Dorsett, Thompson honored at NJFB event
PRINCETON — Patrons of the New Jersey Farm Bureau’s 101st annual meeting enjoyed a dinner of locally-sourced food from farmers around the Garden State before the Farm Bureau recognized two distinctive voices in New Jersey agriculture. In keeping with this year’s theme of “women in agriculture,” both award winners are women.
Horse farmer Ann Dorsett of Woolwich Township in Gloucester County received the Distinguished Service to New Jersey Agriculture Award.
The Kansas-raised Dorsett and her husband Larry own and operate Dorsett Farms, a 70-acre horse farm in Woolwich where they host horse shows, raise Arabian breeding horses and maintain a horse-boarding operation.
Through the years, Dorsett Farms has been the site of many tours for equine activities and instruction.
Dorsett was cited for her decades-long input and leadership on equine issues for horse farmers around the state, far beyond the borders of Gloucester County.
After accepting her award, Dorsett told the attentive crowd, “I’m grateful to Farm Bureau for setting up two days of recognition for women in agriculture, because I’ve learned so much and been so well supported by women in agriculture in the county and around the state.”
“We have a strong group of women in leadership in Gloucester County and I’m very proud of Gloucester County,” Dorsett said.
The Arthur West Distinguished Service to New Jersey Farm Bureau Award was presented to longtime Farm Bureau staffer Liz Thompson.
New Jersey Farm Bureau President Ryck Suydam noted that Thompson has been with Farm Bureau for 23 years and is involved in everything from producing and printing the annual calendar to updating the website and coordinating speakers at the annual Farm Bureau meeting, which is held every November.
Thompson, who works closely with the Somerset and Middlesex County boards of agriculture is the mother of three children.
“When Ryck first told me I was getting this, my reaction was like, ‘This is my job, I get paid for this, you all pay me for this.’ It seemed a little strange to get an award. Then Ryck told me it was not up to me, that I should shut up and accept it,” Thompson related.
Her journey with Farm Bureau began about 30 years ago when she was still in college.
She was seated with Steve George at a State Ag Convention and Thompson got up to make a speech about the need for advocacy among the state’s farmers.
“Funny how little has changed in 30 years, but then I graduated from college and got a job as a newspaper reporter,” she said. “Then I got a message from a friend of a friend that this guy Pete Furey wanted to talk to me about a job at Farm Bureau, and I didn’t know Pete from anybody. So I called in and scheduled an interview, and then he called me and rescheduled it.
“Then he called and rescheduled it again, and after a time, I realized that Peter has a very fluid sense of time as far as schedules and deadlines,” she said, again noting her background as a newspaper reporter.
Getting used to his sense of time was an adjustment for her, she acknowledged, “but then I got married and had children after I started working at Farm Bureau, and Pete’s fluid sense of time made it possible for me to have a career and be a mom, the kind that got to bake cookies or be a class mom or a team mom and coach field hockey and whatever. Pete’s fluidness allowed me to do that. That will always be one of the best parts of working at Farm Bureau that family focus matters,” Thompson said, crediting her husband Mike and three children.
“In closing, I was taken aback when I was told I was getting this award, because this is my job, it’s what I do for a living. But this job has also been my pleasure and my absolute privilege.”
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