PSU Extension office manager retires after 47 years

Christopher Dornblaser

After 47 years of working at the Penn State Extension in York, Carla Shermeyer is retiring.

Shermeyer, 65, of Dover, has been working with the extension since she graduated from high school in 1968. On Dec. 30, she will retire as manager of the county office.

The Penn State Extension provides agricultural outreach education to Pennsylvania, with the York office offering its services to the county.

Shermeyer said she had been thinking about retiring for the past year or so.

"I never thought I'd be there for 47 years," she said. "It just seemed like the right time."

Carla Shermeyer, of Dover Borough, is shown in Dover, Pa. on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. Shermeyer will be retiring from Penn State Agricultural Extension, where she has worked for 47 years, on Dec. 30. (Dawn J. Sagert - The York Dispatch)

The people: Despite being a self-proclaimed "black thumb" and not much of a fan of bugs, Shermeyer  remained with the Penn State Extension, an agricultural extension of the university.

"It wasn't the job so much but the interaction with the people," she said. "That's probably the piece I'll miss the most."

Shermeyer mentioned her first boss, John Smith, as having a particular impact on her.

"He's the one who taught me how to be in an office setting," she said, adding he was a very kind man who wasn't judgmental.

Shermeyer said at the time she didn't appreciate what he did for her, but she does now.

Years of experience: During her nearly 50 years at the job, she saw her fair share of interesting moments.

Shermeyer said once someone called in asking how to get the "dead" smell out of their house when someone had recently died there.

"That was a one in a million phone call," she said, laughing.

She said one time someone brought in a praying mantis nest in a jar, and over a weekend they got out of the jar and into the office.

"They were all over the place," she said.

Shermeyer said she had to alert someone, as they were all over her desk.

"If you want them to live, you come get them now," she recalled joking during the incident.

She has been there so long she remembers that the extension used to teach people how to use a microwave when it first came out.

Carla Shermeyer, of Dover Borough, dries glass globes as she and others decorate for the upcoming Christmas service at Salem Lutheran Church in Dover, Pa. on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. Shermeyer will be retiring from Penn State Agricultural Extension, where she has worked for 47 years, on Dec. 30. (Dawn J. Sagert - The York Dispatch)

What's next?: Shermeyer doesn't have any concrete plans for her post-retirement life. She said she'd like to spend some time with her 89-year-old mother by going on small day trips with her.

As for the immediate future, she is looking forward to not having to get up at 6:30 a.m. to go to work as well as not having to make the 40-minute drive to the office five days a week.

While she hasn't made many plans for herself, she does plan on volunteering in some capacity, such as at a soup kitchen.

"I have to do it at an age that I'm capable," she said, adding she thinks she only has around 10 to 15 years left to do so.

Big shoes to fill: Nina Redding, district director of the extension, said with Shermeyer's retirement, they have some big shoes to fill.

“Well, Carla’s been there so long, she’s a wealth of institutional knowledge,” Redding said. Redding said Shermeyer has knowledge on both county government and how the Penn State extension works, adding that Shermeyer's job was complex.

"She's had to navigate between both worlds." she said.

In the 47 years Shermeyer has been there, she has seen a lot of changes. Redding said Shermeyer had no problem with facing new things.

"She was always right there to step up and try something new," she said.

Redding said it is difficult for her to imagine the office without Shermeyer.

"It's almost like an end of an era," she said.

She said Shermeyer's retirement is well deserved.

“She’s been a joy to have as a co-worker, and we’re really going to miss her,” she said.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at