NEWTON — Thomas L. Dyson has been named director of Catawba County Cooperative Extension, effective July 18. Dyson comes to Catawba County from the Lincoln County Cooperative Extension, where he served as extension director since 2014.
Catawba County Cooperative Extension is a research-based educational outreach organization affiliated with NC State University. Aimed at empowering communities, Catawba County Cooperative Extension offers programs and consultation in the areas of gardening and urban agriculture, row crops and traditional agriculture, livestock and pasture management, development 4-H and youth, academic achievement and healthy living, small farm management and food systems and family and consumer science programs for healthy and safe food .
As Director, Dyson will lead a team of six people in implementing a collaborative plan to maximize community engagement in outreach programs. Extension programs and services are currently offered at Newton Agricultural Resource Center (ARC) extension offices and various locations around the county, often in partnership with other community organizations.
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Early in his career, Dyson spent nearly 10 years as an area extension agent for NC Cooperative Extension offices in Chowan, Perquimans and Gates counties. Dyson has also lived overseas, serving the International Mission Board as an agricultural consultant and educator in Merida, Venezuela. Prior to leading the Lincoln County Extension Office, Dyson spent eight years as a professor of cross-cultural studies, practices and missions for GH Lacy Baptist Theological Seminary in Oaxaca, Mexico.
“We are thrilled to welcome Tom to our Catawba County team,” said County Manager Mary Furtado. “His unique blend of leadership experience and technical expertise is a perfect fit for our extension office and our community. We believe his collaborative mindset will help grow local outreach programs and partnerships in a way that will impact even more Catawba County residents.
“I have had the opportunity to work with the Catawba County Extension Team in the past and know their reputation for excellence in extension work,” Dyson said. “I am delighted to have the opportunity to join the team and help continue this great tradition. There is still a lot to do and I look forward to being part of it. »
Dyson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, a master’s degree in cross-cultural studies from Southeastern College of Wake Forest, and a degree in Spanish from the Institute of Spanish language from San Jose, Costa Rica. He received a 2002 Agent Achievement Award from the North Carolina Association of County Agricultural Agents and served on the NC State Extension Engage Steering Committee from 2018-2020.
Dyson lives in Lincolnton with his wife Lorenda and youngest daughter, Daphca. His family includes four older children: a full-time missionary living in the Dominican Republic, a firefighter from Chesapeake, Va., a basketball player Wingate, and a karate instructor in Matthews; and an 8 month old granddaughter.