We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Tommy Woodard, Manager of the NCDA&CS Print Shop, is one of those employees. Stay tuned each Wednesday here on the blog or any of our social media accounts and join us in honoring those who continue to drive our state’s agriculture industry forward each day!
The agriculture industry encompasses many job responsibilities and reaches far beyond a tractor in the field. In fact, Tommy Woodard, Manager of our NCDA&CS Print Shop, has been representing N.C. Agriculture through graphics and printing for over twenty years!
Growing up in Johnston County, Tommy started working in agriculture at a very young age. “I was introduced to agriculture when I started working for a local farmer digging potatoes and pickling cucumbers,” he said.” Then when I was old enough to work in the tobacco fields I transitioned to those fields.” Falling in love with the life of agriculture immediately, Tommy started his first garden when he was just 20 years old and still manages and harvests one at his home today. He grows a variety of products for him and his family to enjoy, including peas and watermelon.
Prior to his job at the NCDA&CS, Tommy worked for a local newspaper. “When the job at the print shop became available in 1996, I knew that it would be a great opportunity for me to showcase my printing skills while supporting N.C. Agriculture,” he said. Tommy originally started as a Printing Equipment Operator with our Statistics Division and, through the years, worked his way up to Print Shop Manager.
As a manager, Tommy is responsible for all things that go on inside the NCDA&CS Print Shop, from the Census of Agriculture to N.C. State Fair materials and tickets to working with the USDA National Ag Statistics Service. “On top of the projects that we have running for the NCDA&CS, our shop also serves as the print/mail center for the USDA National Ag Stats Service, so we have a lot of responsibilities ensuring that they have everything they need,” he said.
Although he truly enjoys the pride that comes from working on projects for the N.C. State Fair each year or the Census of Agriculture, Tommy’s favorite part of the job is the opportunity he has to touch many different aspects of the department and N.C. Agriculture industry as a whole. “The print shop touches nearly every division of the NCDA&CS in some capacity, which is kind of like having my own personal window to view the department,” he said. “I get to see agriculture in a way that many don’t. I’m not sure how many people are aware of just how vast agriculture is with all of its branches across the state, but it’s an honor to be a part of it and get to have a hand in its tremendous impact.”
Throughout his 26 years, Tommy has had the opportunity to work on many amazing projects, but the one he is most proud of is helping lend a hand in establishing the departments four color printing program. “This project was a collaborative effort with two graphic design groups,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without them or the co-operator agreement we have with the USDA.” Up until the late 1990’s, the NCDA&CS print shop was unable to offer in-house color printing, which spurred the start of this project in 1998. “From 1998 to 2001, the print shop purchased two true color presses that were capable of producing perfect registration printing,” Tommy explained. “Process printing is very complex and requires perfect registration of the paper and ink colors. There are many steps within the process to achieve a high-quality product, so it was a very challenging time for all of us but very rewarding in the end.”
Tommy is proud not only of his patience, hard-work and determination in completing this project, but also the perseverance and collaboration efforts of his team. “I am proud of all the amazing work we have been able to accomplish with this new process,” Tommy said. “It took a lot of work and a lot of patience collectively for this to be a success, but I am blessed to work with the most amazing staff in the world who pull together every day to get the job done.”
When he is not working in the print shop, Tommy can be found travelling with his family, collecting antique pieces of history, hunting, fishing or gardening. He has a wife of 26 years that he loves to travel with, along with a son who will be starting college at the University of Mount Olive in the fall with a major in Agriculture Education. “When we are not travelling, I really enjoy collecting local antiques like bottles, thermometers, signs and other items,” he said. “With each piece I collect, I feel like I am saving a small piece of history and I often wonder what those pieces would tell us if they could.” Tommy also has four dogs and a few chickens that keep him busy. Join us in thanking Tommy for all of his hard work with the NCDA&CS!