NCDA&CS employees recognized for teamwork

by | Feb 16, 2024

Every three months, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recognizes a different team of employees with an award. The “Excellence in Team Accomplishment Award” goes to employees who have shown service-oriented teamwork as they worked together on projects that further efficiency, demonstrate good stewardship of taxpayer dollars and/or benefit the citizens of North Carolina.

Each team is recognized as part of the Department’s regular meeting of division directors. The following is a roundup of the most recent three teams to be honored for each quarter of 2023. (The team recognized for the 1st quarter of 2023 was the Bertie County office of the N.C. Forest Service, featured here.)

Beekeeper/Pesticide Inspector Videos Team (2nd Quarter 2023 Excellence in Team Accomplishment Award Winner)
In the absence of Commissioner Steve Troxler on March 27, 2023, Chief Deputy Commissioner David Smith recognized eight employees in the Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division and the Plant Industry Division. They combined forces to create the Beekeeper/Pesticide Inspector Videos Team.

This team developed two informative and engaging videos that required months of planning, script writing, shooting and editing that spanned over two years from start to finish. One video covers the proper use of pesticides to manage beehive pests, and the other video aims to help pesticide inspectors investigate bee kills.

Employees in the Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division handled much of the early work, which involved contract negotiations for the video production. The folks in the Pesticides Section got apiary inspectors involved from the Plant Industry Division. Together, they planned a “shot list” for the videos and decided on a site in Asheville with several hives in a great location. They came together to record in August of 2022. The inspectors pointed out the best video to show-and-tell important points, and they used their expertise with bees to demonstrate pest detection and identification, as well as proper pest management.

“But telling an educational story didn’t just involve what to show, but also what to say. That was another big team effort,” explained Smith during the award presentation. “Even more employees got involved as the team worked to figure out scripts for the narrations. They needed to be accurate and informative, but also easy to follow with the videos. It was a long and tedious process that sometimes involved day-long meetings.”

The process involved research, re-writing, digging up pictures, sharing files, and a real team effort to bring everything together for the final product. The videos were eventually featured at the annual conference of the American Association of Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO) in Washington, D.C.

Jim Burnette, who has now retired as the director of the Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division, nominated the team.

“Our project has even attracted the attention of our Canadian regulatory partners… expanding the benefits of our work to promote safe, effective and legal hive pest management practices even beyond our nation’s borders,” Burnett said.

  • The team included:
    • Patrick Jones, the deputy director for Pesticide Programs
    • Dwight Seal, an ag program specialist in Structural Pest Control and Pesticides
    • Travis Snodgrass, a pesticide specialist in Structural Pest Control and Pesticides
    • Don Hopkins, the apiary inspection supervisor in Plant Industry
    • Lewis Cauble, an apiary inspector in Plant Industry
    • Sydney Ross, an ag program specialist in Structural Pest Control and Pesticides
    • Jason Williams, an ag program inspector in Structural Pest Control and Pesticides
    • Jamie Frye, the administrative specialist in Structural Pest Control and Pesticides


N.C. Forest Service BRIDGE Leadership Team (3rd Quarter 2023 Excellence in Team Accomplishment Award Winner)
On August 28, 2023, Commissioner Troxler recognized eight individuals representing the B.R.I.D.G.E. program team of the North Carolina Forest Service. The program acronym stands for Building, Rehabilitating, Instructing, Developing, Growing and Employing, and it works with non-violent inmates aged 18-32 who are trained and equipped to serve as forest firefighting crews that are ready at a moment’s notice. The participants have come to help in many other ways also, but none of it would be possible without the team leadership.

This team’s nomination came from several employees in Forest Service Region 3, which is the western third of the state. District Ranger Law Enforcement Benji Reece compiled it on their behalf in large part due to the team’s work in the spring of 2023.

The team led the normal work of prepping for and conducting prescribed burns, and also suppressing wildfires. The prescribed burns alone covered hundreds of acres in some of the most difficult terrain in the region.

The team also led BRIDGE participants in fighting wildfires. In just the first three months of the year, there were close to 90 fires reported, and BRIDGE was the first to be on-call to assist. Their help was especially valuable given the number of vacancies in parts of Region 3. As the Forest Service needed to do more with less, BRIDGE was there to fill the gaps.

In addition to working on fires, BRIDGE also helped with lifting, packing and shipping seedlings. The BRIDGE carpentry shop even made a new sign for a county office, while other BRIDGE work has included a new sign for the Duplin Hanger and helping with the cabin restoration at the State Fair’s Heritage Circle.

“All the project leaders are great to work with, always friendly, hardworking and ready to help with just a call,” said one district leader who contributed to the nomination. “I believe BRIDGE is the epitome of a great team. They exhibit extraordinary levels of service-oriented teamwork, complete projects that further efficiency, demonstrate good stewardship of taxpayer dollars and serve the citizens of North Carolina.”

Commissioner Troxler added to the accolades while presenting the award to the leadership team.

“Simply put, BRIDGE has provided the manpower needed to make a lot of Forest Service work safer, more efficient or even possible at all,” Troxler said. “If it was not for BRIDGE, a lot of manual labor would not be completed.”

  • The team included:
    • BRIDGE director Ken Burns
    • assistant directors Jake Martin and David Greathouse
    • project leaders Chris Lister, Landon Yonce, Shane Kirkpatrick, Dennis Marler, Jason Frye, Cody Patton, Derek Yelton, Joel Patrino, Bobby Lister and Jeff Lowman,
    • administrative specialist Deborah Floody.


Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center Maintenance Team (4th Quarter 2023 Excellence in Team Accomplishment Award Winner)
On January 22, 2024, Commissioner Troxler recognized the Maintenance Team of the Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center.

Complex manager Brenda Jackson nominated the team for their hard work.

“This team has been exceeding expectations for several years as they supported up to eight buildings while also learning to operate the most complicated building the department owns,” Jackson wrote in her nomination.

There was much more work that garnered the team’s award though. Jackson pointed out that the team took on a big project and had gone above and beyond the standard of what is asked for employees in their dedication to the building.

Starting in January of 2023, the team facilitated the installation and startup of the facility’s “N+1 project” to install a third chiller, cooling tower and boiler while maintaining normal operations for the laboratories located within the building. The project is still ongoing in early 2024, and all the while, this team has continued to support three Veterinary lab facilities across the state also. That has involved extensive hours of weekend and night-time work in addition to their normal duties.

The past year of this project has required these team members to coordinate with the general contractor and multiple trades workers every step of the way. The installation of the new equipment could have involved shutting down some lab operations, but that wasn’t really an option for the Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center. The labs perform time-sensitive testing to ensure the health and safety of citizens and livestock in the state. So instead, the team worked proactively to find solutions, that involved extra hours on nights and weekends.

“As you can imagine, not everything goes exactly as planned either. So these employees worked together to rearrange schedules and make things work as needed. Sometimes they could plan ahead, and sometimes that involved last-minute adjustments,” Troxler said during the award presentation at the building. “Because of this team’s involvement in work planning for the N+1 project, they saved the department about $75,000 thanks to figuring out an alternate way to accomplish some work. So, we have a team that coordinated work in the building, rearranged schedules to make it happen while keeping our labs running and saving us money in the end. Again, this was all while managing the normal workload, which included daily tasks and renovation projects at three remote Vet labs, plus doing routine maintenance for every system within this building.”

The team’s work has ensured that the “N+1 project” has gone smoothly, but it also made sure the department didn’t have to stop working for the people of North Carolina. Because of their extra hours, the people in the building could continue various tasks such as (1) testing food and feed, (2) providing nutritional information for forage, (3) performing necropsies or diagnostics for livestock, (4) testing poultry for processing, (5) supporting calibrations for commerce and (6) ensuring quality motor fuel and fluids. Those, of course, are just some of the things that continued smoothly while this project has been moving along thanks to the building’s maintenance team.

  • The team included:
    • Billy Tarpey, ASC Maintenance/Construction Manager
    • Joey Stephenson, ASC Maintenance Supervisor
    • Matt Nelson, ASC Maintenance Technician III
    • Dominic Piatek, ASC Maintenance Technician II
    • Angel Irizarry, ASC Maintenance Technician III