Farm Credit Affiliation
Fresno Madera Farm Credit
Mark Thompson cares about the future of agriculture and understands that it lies with our youth. He’s initiated a unique program to help support that future, as well as being extensively involved in his community and working his long-time job for Fresno Madera Farm Credit.
Last year, Mark recognized that many young people who have aspirations to succeed in agriculture or other fields might not have the financial means to acquire the tools they need. Shortly before the 2015 Fresno District Fair, he started seeking supporters for what he’s since named the “All Around Ag Awards” program. The program provides toolboxes, tailored to individual needs and interests, to deserving area youth. His plan involves engaging local student advisors to identify the recipients and local businesses to sponsor the project. Within two months, in time for the annual fair, Mark had secured 18 toolboxes, each worth $300-$500. As of 2016 National Agriculture Day, he already had 55 toolboxes sponsored for the 2016 Fair with sponsors ranging from local businesses to his barber and, not surprisingly, his employer of 42 years, Fresno Madera Farm Credit.
“Our future is delivered to us in the form of our youth. We can change lives by taking these young minds, bodies and souls, and teaching them responsibility, confidence, strong work ethics, motivation and encouragement,” Mark says. “We need them for our tomorrow. We have the ability to not only help them build, grow and raise projects, but to give them the tools to carry out this very important task.”
Mark is a willing volunteer no matter what the project. He cooks for the young ag students at the fair, serves at the Cattlemen’s fundraiser, and gets his hands dirty out in the field. More, he inspires others to volunteer alongside him, because, as one co-worker said, “his dedication to the community is contagious.”
His work at the fair goes beyond his All Around Ag Awards program; in recognition of his dedication, he was named the Community Champion for Volunteerism by the Fresno District Fair in 2014. In 2007, Mark was one of six inductees into the Fresno Fair Hall of Fame in its inaugural year. He is also the past president for the Clovis Rodeo and of the Cattlemen’s Association, a board member of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, and active in Fresno Fair Champions Club, the Reedley College Ag Backers Council and the Reedley Ag College Curriculum Committee.
With his continued focus on helping youth prepare for success in their futures, Mark says, “The future of agriculture holds not only hard work, new technology, challenging conditions and political tests, but also an agricultural mindset. We understand good choices are needed. We will adapt to any situation. And, we realize the only thing that is permanent, is change.”
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