2010 Employees of the Month

by | Feb 7, 2011

Each month, Commissioner Troxler recognizes an NCDA&CS employee of the month. Employees are peer-nominated and can be nominated for their contributions in the office or in the community. Recipients receive a shirt and a plaque for the honor. Of these nominees, Debbie Robertson was selected as the Employee of the Year.

Here’s a list of 2010 recipients. Their name, title and division are listed, along with a brief snippet from their nomination.


  • Cathy Leibensperger, office assistant at the Piedmont Research Station, Research Stations Division … “Cathy is a team player and is always willing and ready to help wherever needed. During the hay relief effort, she assisted with moving cows from station to station. She has also assisted the staff with picking strawberries during their busy season. These are just a couple of examples where she goes above and beyond her everyday duties. Cathy always displays outstanding customer service. She has a pleasant attitude and is able to converse with a broad range of people, making them all feel that they are the most important part of her job. She is very dedicated to her job and the employees at the research station. She became very ill last spring, but still insisted on putting in a few hours each day to keep the station running. Whatever job Cathy undertakes, she gives it 101 percent of her energy.”


  • Debbie Beach, quality control specialist, Food and Drug Protection Division …  “Every Tuesday night you can find Debbie at the USO located at RDU helping out members of our military as they are traveling through this area.  USO volunteers at RDU are expected to give a minimum of eight hours per month at the USO and a certain number of hours per year outside of the USO.  Debbie graciously gives at least twice the amount of time necessary.  You may find Debbie outside of a grocery store or at a major event representing the USO at a booth, trying to get the message out about what the USO does.  Debbie currently has two sons serving in the military, and knows how important it is to show support to those who are protecting our way of life.  If there is an extra need, Debbie is there.  With the last big snow event several volunteers could not make it in to help out.  Debbie braved the elements, made it to the USO and stayed all night to ensure our military had everything they needed.  Thanks Debbie, for your dedication in helping our troops and our community.”


  • Peter Thornton, assistant director of international marketing, Marketing Division … “During a period of great economic challenge, Peter creatively used a variety of resources other than state funds, to put together a tremendously successful trade mission to the People’s Republic of China that otherwise would not have been possible.  The mission served as a platform from which the Commissioner, NCDA&CS staff and various North Carolina industry representatives explored expanded agricultural exports and other trade opportunities between the People’s Republic of China and North Carolina.  The mission also served to communicate goodwill and create a greater understanding between China and North Carolina.  Peter’s efforts resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding between NCDA&CS and the Yunnan Provence Department of Agriculture, signed by Commissioner Troxler and Yunnan officials.  The mission drew positive media coverage, has bolstered the department’s reputation abroad, and increased demand for North Carolina agricultural goods in East Asia.”


  • Jingqing Ren, advanced business and technology application analyst, Agronomic Division …  “Jingqing’s duties encompass a wide range of responsibility and have a tremendous impact on North Carolina’s agriculture system. When asked to do something difficult, he never complains; rather, he simply states, “Let me think about this.”  In a little while, you’re guaranteed he will return with a well thought out solution.  Oftentimes, Jingqing has been able to solve long standing issues.  He has been an invaluable asset to the ITS and NCDA&CS Project Managers assigned to our LIMS Project and has graciously assisted the project developers in answering questions and resolving issues they could not.  One example of this is Jing’s development of a cascading feature for data entry.  When the developers told us they could not create the feature, Jingqing wrote the programming code and presented his tool at the next LIMS project meeting. Jingqing continues to spend his spare time honing his abilities for the department.”


  • Christina Waggett, adminstrative officer, Administration Division … “Chrissy is an exceptional employee who employs her diversified professional skills to perform a wide range of assignments with exceptional accuracy, thoroughness and effectiveness.  Above all, she exemplifies a “can-do attitude.”  She is always more than willing to do whatever must be done to help the department and is exceptionally enthusiastic and trustworthy when given any assignment.  This is critical for someone who wears as many professional hats as she, because some jobs that she is called upon to complete are quite visible and rewarding, while others are sometimes menial and routine. Even in less visible, behind-the -scene roles, Christina  leverages  her considerable talents and capabilities to provide critical back-up support; clearly recognizing that  the success of our department’s programs depend upon the synergistic power of team efforts and cooperation at all levels.  The importance of this trait cannot be overstated – when Christina says “I will do whatever you need me to do,” she means it.”


  • Don Hopkins, state apiarist, Plant Industry Division … “Don Hopkins works tirelessly and willingly works flexible hours to reach as many of his beekeeping constituents as possible through evening meetings and weekend field days.  By providing excellent customer service, he and his staff have been successful at achieving cooperation from beekeepers in regulatory matters that few other states have achieved.  Not only does he embody the spirit of customer service that should be a part of every state employee’s job, he also gives willingly of his time to promote beekeeping and the pollination and honey industry in North Carolina. Additionally, Don volunteers during his vacation time with the organization Partners of the Americas to train beekeepers working with Africanized bees in Haiti and Bolivia.”


  • Joy Hicks, policy development analyst, Administration Division “[During the 2010 legislative session,] Joy was able to convince key legislative members to retain the House’s expansion budget items and craft several cuts in ways more favorable to the department. What was unexpected was the last minute decision to transfer $1 million from the State Fair’s reserve account to the general fund. This decision put the State Fair’s year-round operations in jeopardy of running a deficit because the State Fair is self-supported and does not receive taxpayer funding. Joy discussed with the General Assembly leadership how the decision would negatively impact the State Fair. She also advised the Commissioner and the executive staff on who they should contact to convince the legislative leadership to avoid modifying the State Fair budget. Joy had less than one week to lay the groundwork to get the $1 million restored. She worked with legislative leadership and organized outside contacts and in the end, the General Assembly adopted a plan to replace the entire $1 million.”


  • Not awarded


  • Not awarded


  • David Dycus, regional agronomist, Agronomic Division “David is a critical link between the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division’s labs in Raleigh and the growers in Guilford, Randolph, Montgomery, Moore, Lee, Richmond, Anson, Scotland and Hoke counties.  David has been a consistent leader in his section in making new contacts with producers in his region, promoting the services offered by the Agronomic Division, interpretation of test results and recommendations and providing feedback to the Raleigh office on how well our recommendations are working for growers. He has assisted the Agronomic Division in revision of fertility recommendations for numerous crops such as strawberries, tobacco and tomatoes. In addition to serving the growers of his region, David has cross trained other new NCDA&CS Agronomic Division regional agronomists and Raleigh-based agronomists. In recent years, David has helped to train new North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service employees who are new to his region and not familiar with NCDA&CS and its many agronomic services.”


  • Brooke Stephenson, grader, Marketing Division … “Brooke supervises the inspection of Farmers’ Stock Peanuts in Northampton County. Over the past five years, she has transitioned primarily into the role of a Good Agricultural Practices and Handling Practices Auditor. She has had to take extensive training to become qualified. She has participated in a number of workshops and has had formal training at the USDA Training Center in Fredericksburg, Va. to become certified to perform USDA audits. She is ISO (International Standards Organization) certified in audit theory. Good Agricultural Practices and Handling Practices is mostly a volunteer program of food safety systems and record keeping that is designed to be monitored and audited.”


  • Debbie Robertson, assistant director, Research Stations Division … “On a day-to-day basis, Debbie deals with personnel issues, computer glitches, and fiscal situations with aplomb. She gives each challenge her undivided attention, even when she has her own deadlines to meet. Debbie has the ability to apply her knowledge of program policies and procedures regarding HR issues, which impact operations and employees. She is not afraid to get down in the trenches and work with those who support her. Teamwork is a very important ideal. Not only does she communicate this well, but she also demonstrates it.”