The county’s CSU extension director is leaving his job |

The county’s CSU extension director is leaving his job

SUMMIT COUNTY – One might say that Brian McAleer is a human encyclopedia.

As Summit County’s Colorado State University (CSU) extension director for more than seven years, McAleer has answered more than 25,000 questions for the community. He retired from the position Friday.

The mission of CSU’s Cooperative Extension program is to provide information and education to the community on a wide range of subjects. Hundreds of Summit County residents have contacted McAleer over the years with their queries.

“We try to bring the university to the people,” McAleer said.

Traditionally, the program served rural areas, but it has since expanded to serve urban, rural and resort areas around the state, including Summit County. Each area has different needs, and each extension program adjusts accordingly.

“The needs here are a little different than on the Eastern plains or the Western (slope),” McAleer said.

Though McAleer has answered questions on an assortment of subjects – including whether cooking on cast iron pans causes sterility – the majority have been about horticulture, gardening, tree diseases and weed control, he said.

McAleer hasn’t been able to answer all the questions off the top of his head.

“There occasionally are questions that take a couple of days or a couple of weeks,” he said.

If he doesn’t know the answer to a question, McAleer does the research. That might mean consulting the Internet, the university library or a professor on campus.

“That has actually been the most gratifying part of the job because that has been a great learning experience for me,” he said, adding that he’s also enjoyed serving the community.

Before coming to Summit County to serve as the CSU extension director, McAleer worked briefly as a grant writer for Larimer County and for 25 years as a parks and recreation official parks planner in New York.

It is his career in New York – and some self-directed retirement programs – that is allowing McAleer to retire at 55. In October, he and his wife, Carol, will move to Costa Rica for a year.

For McAleer, living in Costa Rica will allow him to immerse himself in Spanish, with the goal of becoming fluent.

“It’s kind of a lifelong goal of mine,” he said.

Carol also wants to become fluent in Spanish, but her primary interest is in working as a volunteer in the country’s rain or cloud forests, McAleer said.

The couple plans to return to Colorado after their year in Costa Rica.

“I’m going to keep all my snow toys. … I’ll be back,” Brian McAleer said. “This is my home.”


Colorado State University (CSU) and Summit County have not yet hired a replacement for Brian McAleer, the county’s Director of CSU’s Cooperative Extension office, who retires Friday.

Until someone is hired to fill the position, public questions will be handled differently than usual.

For questions regarding:

n Gardening and horticulture – contact Michael Bauer in Eagle County at (970) 328-8633.

n Tree disease – contact the Mike Harvey at the Colorado State Forest Service office in Granby at (970) 887-3121.

n Weed control information – Paul Schreiner at Summit County Weed Control at (970) 668-4252.

Please be advised that these calls will not be the priority for these offices.

Queries on topics such as entomology and related insect control, wildlife impacts, pest control, and more should be directed to neighboring Cooperative Extension offices at

People with Internet access may also wish to use or dial (888) 666-3063 to receive 24-hour answers for Colorado gardeners as well as for answers to frequently asked questions on line.

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or

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