Keith Smith was born and raised on a farm in the Oak Lake area of Manitoba. Following high school Keith attended the University of Manitoba from which he graduated with a B.S.A. in 1955. Three years later he graduated from the University of Wisconsin with an MSc. in Extension Education. In 1958, Keith married Joy Harris. Together they raised four children: Richard, Janet, Brian and Murray.
Keith began his 33 year career with the Manitoba Department of Agriculture in 1955—beginning as the Agricultural Representative at Holland, then moving to Winnipeg and later to Brandon as a Communications Specialist. He finished his distinguished career as the Principal of the Agricultural Extension Center in Brandon. Encouraging farmers to adopt modern production technology, Keith was recognized by both colleagues and farmers as an outstanding extension communicator. In following the 4-H motto of “Learn to Do by Doing,” Keith devoted his life’s work to helping others help themselves. Zero-till was just one of the many new production practices Keith promoted across the province.
Over his long career with the Province, Keith took several leaves to serve other organizations. In 1970, he served as Director of Communications for Manitoba’s Centennial celebrations. In 1972, he participated in a three-week Commonwealth Foundation Exchange trip to Kenya to study agriculture in a developing country. In 1978-79, he served as a Senior Information Advisor in the United Nation’s office in Washington, D.C. Here he was responsible for developing contacts and programs to tell the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) story to the USA and Canadian media. In 1988, Keith served as a Senior Advisor to the World Bank-funded Nigeria Agriculture and Rural Management Training Institute. He also helped to introduce zero-till farming in Zimbabwe. Working in cooperation with the Marquis Project, Keith was active in the Uganda-Canada Sustainable Agriculture Exchange program aimed at improving farm practices and rural life for Ugandan farm families.
In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the development of agriculture in the Third World, Keith was nominated by his peers to receive the International Recognition Award from the Agricultural Institute of Canada. The citation read: Throughout his career Keith Smith, P.Ag., has been very involved in the support of international development. His skill as a communicator and educator, in addition to his commitment to development, has earned him the respect and admiration of those with whom he has worked.
Keith is past president, Western Manitoba Branch, Manitoba Institute of Agrologists; past director, Agriculture Institute of Canada; life member, Manitoba Institute of Agrologists; member, Board of Governors, Brandon University; past president, Brandon Marquis Project; past director, Developing Countries Farm Radio Network (now called Farm Radio International); and past chair, Manitoba Rural Leadership Training Committee.