New UNL Crops Specialist Appointed
A familiar face will be become an extension educator for the University of Nebraska. UNL Director of the Panhandle Extension District Dr. Linda Boeckner has appointed John Thomas as a cropping systems specialist, based in the Box Butte County extension office in Alliance.
Thomas will replace Bill Booker, who retired last year. Thomas will work other cropping system educators throughout the Panhandle District, including Jim Schild at Scottsbluff and Karen DeBoer at Sidney.
For the past 20 years, Thomas has worked as a research coordinator and technician at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center. He has spent the past five years working in dry bean breeding, both in greenhouses and field research. Prior to that, he spent 15 years in entomology as it applies to production agriculture.
In that time Thomas got to know a number of Box Butte County ag producers, especially wheat, sunflowers and dry beans. Thomas said he plans to get better acquainted with the county, work through his connections to assess the local needs, and develop programs to address the pertinent needs.
One issue at the forefront, Thomas says is water, especially irrigation efficiency and crop production. Groundwater levels have been declining in Box Butte County for years, and drought amplifies the importance of the issue.
Thomas has a master's degree in entomology from UNL, and a bachelor of science degree in forestry and range management from Colorado State University. In his research experience, he was worked with a variety of crops and systems.
Thomas has lived in the area for 21 years, but his family roots go deeper. His great-grandfather, Valentine Thomas, homesteaded north of Morrill. The sod house at North Platte Valley Museum in Gering originally sat on Valentine Thomas' homestead, according to John Thomas.
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