Saving the Family Farm
Marking the 20th anniversary of the first scholarships awarded to promising young students, the Carson Scholars Fund has inducted 20 former scholarship recipients into its inaugural Hall of Fame. Among them is Lindsay Dodd Thompson ’12, a Washington College alumna who received her Carson Scholarship in 2005 as a student at Centreville Middle School.
Growing up on her family’s grain farm in Queen Anne’s County, Thompson was the typical farm girl: she joined 4-H and the Future Farmers of America, and as a high school student was named Miss Queen Anne’s County Farm Bureau. But her love of the land ran even deeper: determined to protect the rural landscape where she grew up, she was inspired to pursue a career in agricultural environmental policy.
Washington College helped her put her dream into focus. During a semester spent interning with the Maryland General Assembly, the political science major worked with a delegate on the Environmental Matters Committee. Graduating from Washington College in three years, Thompson began graduate studies in public policy at the University of Maryland and was offered a job doing government relations for the Maryland Farm Bureau; when that contract ended she approached by the head of the Maryland Agriculture Associates, where she is now employed as a policy and programs assistant.
“I firmly believe I would not be where I am without the Maryland General Assembly internship,” Thompson notes. “Professor Melissa Deckman believed in me enough to let me do that program in my second year. That’s where I got my exposure and made contacts with the people I work for now.”
At Maryland Agriculture Associates, Thompson handles government and public relations for eight agricultural nonprofit organizations. She monitors any potential regulatory changes for the agricultural industry and represents the best interests of her clients on legislative issues, particularly relating to protecting farmland and the viability of Maryland farms.
As part of her work with the Soil Conservation District, Thompson is keenly involved in the Chesapeake Bay Program, working with farmers to implement best practices and have those practices counted in the program’s Chesapeake Bay Model.
“No two days are the same,” says Thompson, who was recently appointed to the Governor’s Pesticide Committee and to the Agriculture Workgroup of Chesapeake Bay Program. This January, she will take part in a stakeholders meeting examining threats to Maryland’s honeybees.
“One out of every three bites of food we eat comes from pollinated crops, so I’m particularly concerned with the pressures facing both managed and wild bee populations. But the issue that speaks to me most is the idea of sustainability—sustainability is not just environmental but also but economic. If farmers can’t make a living, their land will end up being sold off to developers.”
Thompson, who still lives on the family farm and who married the boy from the farm next door (her husband, Jared, is a wildlife biologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources) is working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.
As an inaugural inductee in the Carson Scholars Fund Hall of Fame, Thompon will be honored at the regional awards banquet in Baltimore this coming April.
About the Carson Scholars Fund
The Carson Scholars Fund is dedicated to impacting the nation in a positive way by cultivating future leaders who are academically talented and socially conscious. CSF is independent of any political affiliation and is committed to the non-partisan work of improving education, promoting literacy, and rewarding academic excellence.