Distinguished service honored at foundations' fall joint meeting

The executive director of one of the most successful and active statewide local government associations in the nation was honored Nov. 13 during the fall joint meeting of the North Carolina Agriculture, Dairy and Tobacco foundations at N.C. State University. David Thompson, executive director and CEO of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, received the Distinguished Service Award presented by the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation Inc. This year’s event also included a special presentation to Sharon Rowland, executive director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Foundation in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who is retiring after 36 years of service.

Dr. Joe Zublena, CALS associate dean and director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, presided during the luncheon awards event at the University Club. Also participating were featured speaker Steve Troxler, commissioner of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Jim Smith, chairman of the N.C. Agricultural Foundation, who presented the award to Thompson; and Dr. Bill Collins, director of the CALS Agricultural Leadership Program, who delivered the invocation.

Thompson received his 1979 bachelor’s degree and 1981 master’s degree from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at N.C. State.

He was recognized for “providing truly outstanding support of the College and university,” said Zublena. “The NCACC serves as the counties’ advocate before the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government, and David’s leadership of the NCACC has been outstanding. He’s been particularly supportive of Cooperative Extension, including Extension leaders as part the environmental and agricultural steering committees.

“As a result of this relationship, one of the NCACC Agricultural Steering Committee legislative goals is to support legislation to increase agricultural research and extension services and maintain existing research stations at current levels.”

Smith then presented Thompson the Distinguished Service Award “for outstanding advocacy efforts promoting the partnership between the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University and all of the citizens of North Carolina.”

Zublena announced that Jimmy Gentry, president of the N.C. State Grange, had also been selected to receive the Distinguished Service Award but was unable to attend the awards event and so would be honored at the group’s spring board meeting.

Sharon Rowland is congratulated by Dr. Joe Zublena, director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

In the special presentation to Rowland, Zublena noted that she “is our first director of the Extension Foundation. She has a personal passion for Extension and for making a difference. She is a giving person who has enriched the lives of citizens of the state.”

In his remarks, the recently re-elected Troxler thanked “the citizens of the state for having the confidence in me to re-elect me” and then focused on what’s ahead.

“The future is bright. I see so much opportunity in agriculture in this state,” he said. “We’re dedicated in North Carolina to agricultural research. When I hear what worldwide demand for food will be in the next 20, 30, 50 years, I know it’s incumbent on us to provide it efficiently and safely.”

Citing the upcoming implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, Troxler said, “We’ve got a lot to do at the state level and national level,”  adding that it’s fortuitous that CALS Dean Rich Linton, a food scientist and food safety specialist, “should come in at this time.”

In closing, Zublena reminded the group that the university is “celebrating our 125th anniversary, as well as the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act that created land-grant institutions such as N.C. State. As a national and international leader in research, teaching and extension, the College looks forward to continuing to work with you, our stakeholders, to address statewide, national and global challenges.”  — Terri Leith

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