( 1 Vote )

Reception for John ThompsonWhat’s that old saying about looking in a dictionary under (fill in the blank) and you’ll see a picture of (fill in the blank)?
It’s pretty much unanimous among those whose lives he’s touched that John Thompson’s photo can be found under: friendly, approachable, leader, knowledgeable and committed.

Thompson, Fluvanna’s agricultural agent at the Virginia Cooperative Extension office, has all those characteristics and more. Higher ups are rewarding Thompson’s hard work, dedication and diplomacy by promoting him to the position of Northern District director.

On Thursday (June 8) Thompson’s coworkers celebrated him with a reception. Scores went to the extension office in Fork Union to say goodbye and to enjoy refreshments.

Kim Mayo is Fluvanna’s 4-H agent. She has worked with Thompson since he first came to Fluvanna in 2005.

“I was a 4-H volunteer and he was the 4-H agent,” Mayo said. “What can I say? He has been wonderful to work with. It’s been real nice to have a partner who understands how important it is to involve children and how to get things done.”

Brittney Redmon just started working at the extension office a year ago. Redmon said Thompson has “great leadership skills” and praised “his guidance. His knowledge. He helps you to learn.”

Faye Anderson heads up the extension’s family nutrition program for adults.

“It has been a true pleasure working with John,” Anderson said. “When he first came, he fit right in. He was a fine young man who grew into a great leader. He truly cares and has a great heart for extension. He’ll make a fabulous district director. I’m sorry to see him go but I know he’ll do well.”

One of Thompson’s roles is to be the liaison to the Master Gardener program. Walter Hussey, the Fluvanna Master Gardener president, said Thompson has been incredibly supportive.

“He’s been helpful in getting to the rural community – getting the word out to them and giving us an opportunity to talk to farmers,” he said.

Hussey said Thompson played a pivotal role in creating the demonstration gardens at Pleasant Grove.

The Fluvanna Review asked Thompson to reflect on his time here:

What will you miss the most about the job you’re leaving in Fluvanna?
The people. Definitely the people. Fluvanna, all parts of it, is full of caring folks who understand the idea of community. Extension is focused through all our program areas, and thus is it was a personal goal of mine to be an asset in community development in every way. Since my role was primarily agriculture programming that was the lens I looked through, but I worked with as many projects as I could, whether that effort was in agriculture or not.

How have you changed since you started working here?
I have grown a lot as a person and as a supervisor. I experienced challenges that caused me to grow as a communicator, a record keeper and a supervisor.

Is there a specific memory that stands out?

That is hard! There are so many. A funny one – we had excitement at 4-H camp one year. It involved an exploding toilet in the boys’ bath house (never to happen again! And this did not involve explosives, it was a plumbing problem), some teens and a summer intern, Will Blanchetti. I can’t tell that story publicly to protect the innocent! Or great volunteers who knew when to have fun, or could step into situations when things went really bad. Talking to and learning from Henry Browning. Traveling with George and Gene Goin to learn about horticulture and eat the best hot dog meal ever. Bill Grigg. I miss him. We served on the Holiday Lake 4-H Board together. He could make solid wisdom fun, and could see through the “bull” faster than any person I have known. That is just a quick list as I sat and pondered the question! There is plenty more.

What are you most proud of having accomplished here?
That is a long list! The county fair, the community garden, extension master gardeners and their large footprint and programs, the growing number of extension master naturalists in the county, our commitment to business entrepreneurship through farm businesses and the commercial kitchen! Positive relationships with Old Farm Day, the Fluvanna Leadership Development Program, numerous farm operations and Fluvanna Farm Bureau.  Helping to ensure an agriculture education program at Fluvanna County High School. The hope of an expansion of the Monticello American Viticulture Area that would include half of Fluvanna County if it ever gets approved in D.C. But the greatest highlight was developing and building an extension team that worked well together, in Faye Anderson and by hiring Kim Mayo, Erin Davis (who has left for another job) and now Brittney Redman!

What are you looking forward to in the new job?
In the new role, I will now be an administrator, working to build the extension team for the Northern District. The opportunity to work with the existing team and being instrumental in developing that team going forward are challenges I have looked forward to for some time.

In what ways will it stretch you?
If you look at the map, this is a huge territory. So traveling will be a stretch. Learning all the human resources policy guidelines will definitely be a stretch. Hiring, and probably some firing. I am sure there are other areas where I will be greatly challenged, but we have a great team in place in the counties and cities, and in Blacksburg to support me and our district as I grow.

Anything else?
To sound corny, I love Fluvanna, and I am proud of the progress the entire county has made over the past 12 years I have been a resident and extension agent here. I am not responsible for that growth, but have been excited to be here through it. As a tax-paying citizen, I am proud to see the investment in aging infrastructure, in the physical evidence of commitment to business development of projects such as the community kitchen and water infrastructure. Extension has played a small, but I believe important, role in some parts of that development. In my biased eyes, we are one of the best investments a locality can make in its citizens. In Fluvanna we return around $4 of service for every Fluvanna tax dollar invested.