Langcuster ‘at home’ in career
Editor’s Note: Where are they now? is a regular feature that will catch up with Franklin County natives who may be pursuing opportunites outside of the area.
When Russellville native Jim Langcuster graduated from Russellville High School in 1979, he thought he knew right where he was headed – a path that would lead him through law school and eventually to a career in politics.
Langcuster went on to receive his Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of North Alabama in 1982 but while he was there, he had a change of heart about what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
“While I was at UNA I just developed an interest for different things,” he said. “I really admired President Ronald Reagan’s ability to speak and communicate and I was inspired by him. I was also inspired by professors like Gene Valos who really encouraged me, so I decided on a different path.”
Langcuster came back to the UNA and graduated the following year with a second Bachelor’s degree in radio/television/film and sociology and went on to receive his Master’s of Arts degree from the University of Alabama in broadcast film communications.
Langcuster said he had several job offers once he graduated in 1985, but the one that excited him the most was an offer to become the communications and marketing specialist for news and public affairs for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University, which is the job he currently holds today.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is an organization of educators who take research performed at Alabama’s land-grant colleges, Alabama A&M and Auburn University, and turn that knowledge into practical ways that people across the state can use it. A few of their program areas include financial literacy, workforce development, health and wellness, home gardening, sustainable agriculture and forestry, technology usage and viable small farm businesses.
Langcuster has performed many different duties in the capacity he serves in over the years, but the job he is mainly concerned with now is training others to use the new forms of communication, such as the various social media outlets, in an effort to keep the extension system up-to-date with the most current technologies.
“Our goal is to get people to understand the importance and the relevance the extension system still has today,” Langcuster said. “My office is in a building on the Auburn University campus named after Luther Duncan, who was a Russellville native, and Mr. Duncan is a prime example of what the extension system can do for people.
“Mr. Duncan didn’t have much growing up but he went on to be a beacon for the extension system in Alabama and a beloved president of Auburn University.
“Extension takes kids from remedial backgrounds and gives them the tools to succeed, and part of my job is to make sure the extension system moves into this post-Morrill world and that we make extension programs relevant today.”
Langcuster said the extension system has helped countless numbers of students throughout its existence and he is glad to be a piece of that puzzle.
“I enjoy my job mainly because it takes a certain kind of person to be an ‘extension’ person – someone who is loyal, hardworking and dedicated to what they do – and I get to work with these kinds of people,” he said. “I take joy in helping others and so do many of these people so I feel like I fit in with them.”
Langcuster now lives in Auburn with his wife, Beth, and their two daughters, but said his upbringing by his parents, Cecil and Suzanne Langcuster, in Franklin County was part of what allowed him to mesh into the extension community.
“I was blessed to have parents who brought me up with the same values that I find here in the extension system,” he said. “I grew up in a Norman Rockwell sort of childhood catching crawdad’s in the creek and visiting Bradford’s drug store and these people here had the same kind of upbringing.
“Also, as I mentioned, work in a building named after a man from Russellville that was constructed from Franklin County limestone in his honor, so I feel right at home here.
“I believe this is where I was meant to be and what I was meant to be doing. I’m doing things that I hope are helping people, and that’s very important to me.”