By Maggie Edwards
Sixteen years spent managing cattle operations led Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) Regional Agent Gerry Thompson to his current passion — serving Alabama farmers.
“A lot of my success with Extension comes from my background as a farmer,” Thompson said. “When I was in production ag, I had great relationships with my Extension agents. When the opportunity to join ACES came in 2000, I was delighted for the chance to help farmers.”
Thompson’s program areas include animal science and forages in Blount, Cullman, Limestone, Madison and Morgan counties. He’s based at the Tennessee Valley Regional Research & Extension Center.
His hard work earned Thompson the Duncan Award for Excellence in Production Agriculture & Forestry Extension, plus $5,000 for programming costs from the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation.
This is the fifth annual Duncan Award, coordinated by the Alabama Farmers Federation to reward Auburn University (AU) and ACES professionals for helping Alabama farmers.
Thompson received the award during the organization’s Farm & Land Expo in Mobile Aug. 10.
“I am proud of this award because one of my best friends and clients, Jaffe Paysinger, nominated me for the honor,” said Thompson, a two-time graduate of AU. “It is so meaningful to be in the same category as past animal science winners like Dr. Kent Stanford and Dr. Kim Mullenix.”
Thompson’s commitment to and knowledge of production agriculture drive his ability to help farmers, Paysinger said. Paysinger was one of several farmers who nominated Thompson for the Duncan Award.
“It’s agents like him who help producers become successful,” said Paysinger, whose farm includes hay, forages, cattle and poultry. “Extension has helped me improve my bottom line and saved me thousands of dollars.”
Thompson, along with other Extension professionals, implemented the innovative “Alfalfa in the South” grant on Paysinger’s farm in Elkmont.
“I wanted to grow the high end of horse hay,” said Paysinger, who serves on the Limestone County Farmers Federation board. “Gerry helped with land selection, soil sampling, soil preparation, seeding and drill calibration to make my alfalfa a success. We harvested it to make cattle feed in a ration for preconditioning calves. He also helped implement my cattle-working facility.”
Whether checking forages in the field, helping work cattle or answering calls about weeds, Thompson is always there for his farmers, Paysinger said.
Chris Prevatt, the Federation’s Beef and Hay & Forage divisions director, agreed.
“Gerry and I collaborated during my time working for Florida Extension and now with the Federation,” Prevatt said. “His dedication to the agricultural industry and service to his clientele will leave Alabama agriculture better than he found it.”
Thompson’s heart for people, service and good cattle have left hoof prints on numerous Alabama farmers, Prevatt continued with a smile.
Creating that positive change is a highlight of his career, Thompson said.
“One of the great things about being an Extension agent is helping people who ask for it,” Thompson said. “I’m grateful my clients became my friends, and I am blessed to have this job.”