CJ Mucklow to retire after more than three decades of service to Colorado State University Extension

CJ Mucklow is retiring in December after 35 years with Colorado State University Extension. Mucklow currently serves as the Northwestern Regional Director and Interim Director of Field Operations for CSU Extension. He holds a B.S. in Animal Science and a Master of Agriculture, both from Colorado State University and is also an alumnus of the Colorado Ag Leadership program.

“I had the honor of getting to know CJ while I explored our beautiful state, and I had the privilege of talking to him on several occasions about the Extension mission that makes land grant universities so special,” said President Joyce McConnell. “One of my favorite conversations with him was part of my  Tell Me More . . .  series because along with his humor and compassion, his commitment to Colorado just came through so powerfully. I know I will be just one of many to express my deep gratitude to CJ for his decades of service and unwavering dedication to communities across the state.”

CJ Mucklow headshot
CJ Mucklow currently serves as the CSU Extension Northwestern Regional Director and Interim Director of Field Operations.

A history of service

Mucklow’s status as a trusted leader and advocate for Colorado communities grew through work as a 4-H Agent, Agriculture Agent, County and Regional Director. Mucklow’s longstanding love for Colorado communities, and rural communities in particular, is apparent in all aspects of his work.

“CJ has long served as a leader within CSU Extension,” said Dr. Blake Naughton, Vice President for Engagement and Extension. “He is respected by staff, leaders and communities statewide, and his impact will continue to be seen in our work and programming for years to come. I will miss working with him daily and thank both CJ and his wife Nancy for calling CSU and Colorado home.”

In 1992, Mucklow published A Guide to Rural Living and Small Scale Agriculture. The book is currently in its third printing and is continually updated by Extension staff. The Guide has served as a template for similar publications by other Extension programs in states throughout the West.

In 1994, Mucklow founded the Routt County 4-H Foundation with a $500 donation. Now, the Foundation distributes over $60,000 annually through 9 scholarships for 4-H youth. Since inception, the Foundation has distributed 342 scholarships totaling over $553,500.

Other highlights of Mucklow’s work with Colorado communities include co-developing the guidelines for the Routt County Purchase of Development Rights program, co-authoring a repeat photography book of rangeland and rural areas in Routt and Moffat Counties and leading a broad range of community development projects in Northwestern Colorado. He is also closely intertwined with his community, serving in a variety of volunteer capacities including on the boards of Ski Town Rotary, Routt County Cattlemen’s Association, Routt County Fairboard, Purchase of Development Rights Advisory Committee, Routt County Weed Management Advisory Committee, Yampa Valley Community Foundation and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust.

CJ Mucklow with a young girl at a county fair
Part of Mucklow's legacy includes the Routt County 4-H Foundation, which he founded with a $500 donation in 1994.

A commitment to making a difference

Mucklow’s dedication to CSU Extension and communities across Colorado stems from his commitment to making a difference in peoples’ lives.

“It can be a small difference like helping with a lawn, or it can be a life-changing difference such as explaining how to use a conservation easement to keep a ranch,” said Mucklow. “They both matter to the individuals and people across the state.”

Kellie Clark, a retired Extension staff member, worked closely with Mucklow for thirty years.

“What makes CJ unique is his passion for Extension and the local communities Extension serves,” said Clark. “CJ rarely found a problem he could not solve. He did not accept “no” for an answer and would find a way to make things work.”

“The thing I will miss most about CJ is his desire to make a difference,” Robin Young, CSU Extension Director in Archuleta County. “He has and will continue to impact people’s lives in a way that will always leave a lasting impression.”

From undergraduate intern to respected leader

Mucklow began his career with Extension as an intern during his time as an undergraduate student at CSU and never left.

“When I started with Extension fifteen years ago, my mentor at the time introduced me to CJ,” said Eric McPhail, Gunnison County Extension Director and Interim Southwest Co-Regional Director. “The first time I heard him speak, I knew he was the kind of agent I wanted to be. It was the way he supported his county, prioritized the kids in his programs, shouldered people’s problems, and just helped everyone around him.”

“I’ve modeled how I lead and how I support after CJ,” said Darrin Parmenter, La Plata County Extension Director and Interim Southwest Co-Regional Director alongside McPhail. “He’s honest, he pushes for answers and he’s not afraid to ask questions. He stands up for all of us in the field and I guarantee that is exhausting but you will never see it.”

CJ is also known for his ability to cultivate authentic and lasting relationships. Dr. Ragan Adams, Extension Veterinary Specialist, spoke to his ability to build connections across groups.

“CJ works seamlessly with 4-H youth, master gardener retirees, young and old farmers and ranchers, Extension employees and communities of all shapes and sizes,” said Adams. “He is the glue of kindness and dedication to mission that keeps our organization going in tough times.”

Adams worked alongside Mucklow for over a decade. During that time, she watched him cultivate a sense of community within Extension while providing trusted leadership and mentorship for colleagues and community partners.

“No person meets CJ Mucklow without appreciating his ethical, honest and sincere commitment to establishing a partnership of equals,” said Adams. “He leads with a wide vison, limitless energy and dedicated belief in the mission and possibilities of CSU Extension.”

Landscape photo of Steamboat Springs, CO

Back to the ranch

After retirement, Mucklow looks forward to working on his ranch, chasing cows, fixing fences and rebuilding an old Jeep pickup. At the same time, Mucklow knows he will miss his role with CSU Extension.

“I will miss all the people I’ve worked with across the state and on campus,” said Mucklow. “I consider it a great honor to end my career working for all of them and for the people of Colorado.”