Catawba County News

Dyson Named Extension Director

Dyson Named Extension Director

Published: July 14, 2022

Thomas L. Dyson has been named director of the Catawba County Cooperative Extension, effective July 18, 2022. Dyson comes to Catawba County from Lincoln County Cooperative Extension, where he served as Extension director since 2014.

Catawba County Cooperative Extension is a research-based educational outreach organization affiliated with N.C. State University. Aimed at empowering communities, Catawba County Cooperative Extension provides programming and consultation in the areas of gardening and urban agriculture, row crops and traditional agriculture, livestock and pasture management, 4-H and youth development, academic achievement and healthy living, small farm management and food systems, and family and consumer science programs for healthy and safe eating.

As director, Dyson will lead a staff of six in the implementation of a collaborative plan to maximize community engagement in Extension programming. Extension programs and services are currently offered at Extension offices in the Agriculture Resources Center (ARC) in Newton and at various locations throughout the county, often in partnership with other community organizations.

Dyson brings relevant agricultural and community experience to his role. Early in his career, he spent nearly ten years serving as an area Extension agent for the N.C. Cooperative Extension offices in Chowan, Perquimans and Gates counties. Dyson also lived abroad, serving with the International Mission Board as an agricultural consultant and educator in Merida, Venezuela. Prior to directing the Lincoln County Extension office, Dyson served for eight years as a professor of cross-cultural studies, practice and missions for the G.H. Lacy Baptist Theological Seminary in Oaxaca, Mexico.

“We are excited to welcome Tom to our Catawba County team,” said County Manager Mary Furtado. “His unique blend of leadership experience and technical expertise are a great fit for our Extension office and our community. We believe his collaborative mindset will help grow local Extension programs and partnerships in ways that will impact even more residents in Catawba County.”

“I have had the opportunity to collaborate with the Catawba County Extension team in the past and know of their reputation for excellence in Extension work,” said Dyson. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join the team and contribute to the continuation of that great tradition. There is still much to be done, and I am looking forward to being part of it.”

Dyson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, a Master of Intercultural Studies degree from The College at Southeastern in Wake Forest, N.C., and a Spanish Language diploma from the Spanish Language Institute in San Jose, Costa Rica. He was awarded a 2002 Agent Achievement Award from the North Carolina Association of County Agricultural Agents and served on the NC State Extension Engage Leadership Committee from 2018-2020.

Dyson resides in Lincolnton with his wife Lorenda and youngest daughter, Daphca. His family includes four older children – a full-time missionary living in the Dominican Republic, a Chesapeake, VA, firefighter, a Wingate women’s basketball player, and a karate instructor in Matthews, NC – and an 8-month-old granddaughter.