Special Report

Glenn Thompson’s last show

The end of the 2009 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days on Thursday marked the end of Glenn Thompson’s tenure as General Manager of the show. After 18 years, Thompson is retiring. The former U.W. Extension agent says the thing he treasures most is the people he has come to know, “I’ve been blessed with fine cooperators over the years.”

The shows are bid at least three years in advance and that means Thompson was usually working with three county committees at the same time and each one is at a different stage of the process. He enjoyed watching those committees evolve. “Every county has tremendous teamwork and great leadership that develops over the early months but they never really gel until about a year before the show, then everything seems to come together.” He says when they start to joke and kid each other, that’s when they are a team.

Thompson can’t say enough about the U.W. Extension agents in the counties he has worked with because in each case, they are the Executive Secretary of the show. They must take the lead role and provide the initial leadership. He says the best ones get things going and then let the volunteers take over, “and in most cases, that really happens.” Thompson was the Extension Agent in Sheboygan County when they hosted the show in 1975.

The host families are also a crucial part of this show. “They are very supportive people otherwise they would not have raised their hand and said I’ll do this.” He has seen a lot of changes in the show over the years but the biggest difference he sees is in the host farms. “Going from a one-or-two-person family farm to a multi-family farm and it is still a family farm. The Crave Brothers are a prime example of this.”

On a personal note, I have known Glenn from both the media standpoint and as a member of the Clark County Executive Committee for the 2005 show. From the media standpoint, I remember when he took the job 18 years ago; he has always been straightforward and readily accessible to us. He always made us feel that we are an important part of the success of each show. Glenn always had time to talk to us.

My real appreciation for Glenn came as a member of the Clark County Executive Committee. It was over that three-year period that I came to fully understand just what this guy does, how he is dealing with three different county committees, usually in opposite corners of the state at the same time. In so many ways he was like the father who knew the kids would eventually grow into what was expected of them.

I hope he has many years of enjoyable retirement and I hope to see him many more times in the future. By the way Glenn, I still haven’t seen a picture of you in a Clark County shirt!

AUDIO: Glenn Thompson talks about his years with WFTD 4:55

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