A half century of service: Timothy Batten retires from NCDA&CS

by | May 30, 2024

Reflecting back on 50 years is no easy task. Neither is filling the shoes of an employee that has tirelessly served the livestock industry in the state for a half century. For Timothy Batten with the N.C Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Veterinary Division, retirement is well deserved after a career that saw the eradication of swine pseudorabies and an explosion of technology that made work in 1974 very different than the workplace in 2024.

Batten with his young family at Easter 1974

Batten began his career with the department on June 3, 1974. He spent a decade in the Meat and Poultry Inspection Service Division before transferring to the Veterinary Division where he worked as an Animal Health Technician.

“I was already a husband and a father, fresh out of college and was hurled into the briar patch of life! Little did I know what lay ahead of me,” said Batten.  “My initial six years were spent within the confines of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Service as a Meat and Poultry Inspector I. At barely 20 years of age, I found myself working in a slaughter plant, assuring the public of receiving a wholesome product. I was so young that some of the older ladies employed by the establishment called me “little boy.” During my six-year stint at this facility I attended a Meat Processing School held in Fort Worth, Texas. This trip was my first experience on a jet plane. I felt so out of place one may have likened me to The Beverly Hillbillies! I also attended training for import meat inspection in Charleston, S.C. In 1981, I accepted a promotion as Meat and Poultry Inspector II in charge of a processing-slaughter facility until 1984.”

“In August of 1984, I transferred to the Veterinary Division,” added Batten. “My work had become stagnant in the meatpacking industry and I felt I needed a change. Trading off one for the other, was a breath of fresh air. I now worked with the regulatory side of the livestock industry as an Animal Health Technician. My initial daily tasks with the Veterinary Division involved regulatory inspections in livestock markets five days per week. Other duties included quarantines, issuing movement permits, animal disposal compliance, animal welfare inspections and State Fair activities.”

Batten honored by former Commissioner Jim Graham for 25 years of service

Batten was on the frontline of the  swine pseudorabies eradication, which involved blood sampling thousands of animals to eradicate the disease from North Carolina’s swine industry. He received a Superior Service Award for his contribution towards the eradication program in August 1993.

“I recall numerous changes over the past 50 years,” said Batten. “Ink pens, pencils, and paper forms have fallen victim to technology in the form of computers, tablets and cell phones. My first computer was a Toshiba brand that would freeze in a heartbeat, having to be shut down to resume, and resulting in the loss of accomplished work. A download would tie up my home landline phone for 12 hours or more, and I would pray it was not interrupted with an incoming call, as the download continued to display on the screen “crunching & uncrunching.” Technology continued to unveil answer machines, pagers, bag phones and cell phones.”

In 2005, Batten accepted the position of Technical Trainer with the Veterinary Division. In addition to his Animal Health Technician activities, he assumed responsibility of updating N.C. General Statutes and Administrative Codes pertinent to the Veterinary Division as well as mapping the training for newly hired Animal Health Technicians. He also assists supervisors in locating statutes and codes.

His training with the Veterinary Division led Batten to Ames, Iowa in 2008 for Swine Health Training Programs and again in 2013 for a Program Disease Field Skill Course. In 2011,  he attended Basic Agricultural Emergency Response Training in Anniston, Ala. Since 2000, he has worked extensively with the Benson Chamber of Commerce and the Benson Kiwanis Club regarding Equine Infectious Anemia compliance during the Mule Days event held in late September. In 2002,  Batten composed an article encouraging horse owners to protect their investment by testing the animal for this disease annually. The article was entitled “HORSE $ENSE” and it was published in THE HORSE magazine.

“Tim Batten is a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience for the Veterinary Division,’ said Dr. Catherine Harris, director of livestock health programs. “Not only is he extremely familiar with our NC livestock industry, producers and administrative code. He also happens to grow wonderful cantaloupes!”

“Throughout my career I have answered to seven different immediate supervisors, two Meat and Poultry Directors, one Animal Health Technician Supervisor, six Assistant State Veterinarians–Livestock Health Programs Directors and five State Veterinarians,” said Batten. “My career with NCDA&CS has allowed me to meet and collaborate with the most amazing work force for which I am eternally grateful, however I am now ready to retire, step aside and devote the balance of my life to friends and family!”

Institutional knowledge is irreplaceable and despite how qualified the replacement, a deep void is made when a long time employee chooses to retire. Batten has served the state well past when others choose to retire and he will be missed. Congratulations Timothy for your half century of service!

 

Batten's young family at Easter in 1974
Batten with his kids in 1978
Batten with former Commissioner Jim Graham receiving 25 year service award
Superior Service Award
Batten with first grandchild in 2001
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