Noreen Jo Thomas
2004 Production Agriculture
“Think globally, act locally” is a fitting adage for 2004 production agriculture laureate Noreen Thomas. A resident of Moorhead, Minnesota, Thomas is a volunteer educator and producer whose work in the community is based on the belief that knowledge shared with others can collectively aid in resolving world hunger.
Since 1997, Thomas and her husband, Lee, have been certified organic producers farming 1200 acres of grains, feed, and beans for domestic as well as foreign markets for use in food. With the goal of applying the dynamics of new technology and scientific research to enhance sustainable and environmentally sound foods, Thomas, who has a bachelor’s of science in Food and Nutrition from North Dakota State University, regularly participates in studies with UMAC /Aerospace and the University of Minnesota. As a result, faculty and researchers have a clearer understanding of the effects of organic farming practices on environmental quality as well as how to improve advanced satellite technology modeling to better meet producers’ needs.
Thomas’ commitment to agricultural education is perhaps most evident in the countless volunteer hours she spends working with children and youth on projects throughout Missouri, Minnesota, and Montana. Whether it be teaching children the Junior Master Gardener program in Spanish, or working with youth and adults to plan, plant, tend and harvest organic vegetables for local buyers, or writing agricultural curriculum. Thomas has developed learning tools for “New Americans” and underserved populations including visual learners and children and adults with physical and learning disabilities. She is an advocate for agriculture, youth, rural life and a healthier world for all peoples.