Tribute to a Forage Legend: Warren Thompson

May 31, 1918 – September 17, 2016

Mr. Warren Thompson was born in Fulton County, Kentucky.  He grew up on a grain and livestock family farm established in 1899.  He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Kentucky.  He began his professional career in 1942 as Assistant County Agent in Hickman County, Kentucky and became County Agent in 1943.  In 1958, he accepted the position as Extension Forage Specialist at the University of Kentucky and retired in 1973.  Following his first retirement, he worked as Forage Consultant, Agriculture Journalist and was in great demand as a speaker on many forage topics throughout warren-1the USA.  In 1975, he accepted the position as Manager, Forage Marketing Programs with North American Plant Breeders and became National Forage Specialist with ABI in 1987, where he retired for the second time in 2004.  Since 2004 Warren “Mr. Alfalfa”, “Mr. Forage” continued to travel, speak and mentor so many “Forage Workers” across the USA and abroad.

Warren was the most recognized forage worker in the USA.  He received every state and national award in Forages including:  AFGC Merit and Medallion, Progressive Farmer Man of the Year, Alfalfa Extension Award, KFGC Public Service Award, Alfalfa Industry Award, Department of Agriculture Distinguished Service Award and was inducted as an International Honorary Member of the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference.  He organized the Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council and was a driving forced in the development of the American Forage and Grassland Council.  Warren contributed to all areas of forage; however, his signature programs included:  Pasture Renovation, Alfalfa, Alfalfa Grazing, Forage Quality and Role of Forages in Soil Conservation.  He was a loyal and active member of The Episcopal Church, a dedicated U.K. Wildcat fan, and an avid golfer.warren2

Warren was preceded in death by Betty, his wife of 64 years.  He is survived by a daughter, two sons, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Warren Thompson made a difference!!!  He was a dedicated, experienced, passionate national forage leader.  I was honored to have him as my mentor, colleague, supporter, encourager and dear friend.  I can say without hesitation he had more positive impact on me and my forage knowledge and programs than anyone throughout my 41 year career as Extension Forage Specialist at the University of Kentucky.  ~ Garry D. Lacefield, Professor Emeritus, University of Kentucky