After eight years as Douglas County's horticulture agent, Bruce Chladny is ready to tackle a new challenge.
That challenge is his new job as director of the Wyandotte County Extension Service, which begins May 6.
He said Wyandotte County, which includes Kansas City, Kan., area, is more urban than Douglas County and has a diverse population.
"It's got a wide variety and diversity of urban issues, from non-English-speaking clientele to the economically challenged," he said. "It's a diverse population."
Chladny, 39, has been the horticultural extension agent in Douglas County since July 1999. His job has included overseeing horticultural education and outreach programs as well as the Master Gardener Program. He was the county's first full-time horticulture agent.
In Wyandotte County, Chladny will manage the extension office and supervise a staff of about 15 agents, support and program personnel. He was the horticulture agent there for three years before moving to Douglas County.
"It's just amazing how much development is changing in western Wyandotte County," he said.
Chladny, who also writes a column for the Journal-World, which runs in the Pulse section on Thursdays, said he wants to improve the Wyandotte County service's financing and build a good relationship with the county's commissioners and the community.
Chladny's decision to move to Wyandotte County had its personal side, too. His wife, Tammy, teaches at Bonner Springs Elementary School and his 5-year-old son, Evan, will start school next fall.
Chladny said he will miss the people he has worked with and come to know in Douglas County. They will miss him, as well, said Mary Olson, a member of the Master Gardener Program.
"He is just wonderful," Olson said. "He's been an inspiration to me. I'm his No. 1 fan."
Chladny's Douglas County friends and colleagues will have a chance to wish him well and honor him during an open house from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Deal Six Auditorium on the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St.
Kansas State University, which oversees the state's extension service, is accepting applications for Chladny's Douglas County position. K-State Research and Extension will screen applicants and refer those who qualify to the Douglas County Extension Council, which will make the final selection.