It is not uncommon to see Board member Mark Thompson wearing his cowboy hat. This is only fitting considering the number of different hats (not literally) he carries as an active leader and member of the agriculture community.
Despite Thompson’s hard work, he knows when to have fun. He announces horse shows and rodeos all over the western United States. He credits three events that led him to find his spot behind the microphone.
Thompson, of Clovis, was first introduced to announcing when Bob Robinson, an announcer and great friend of Mark’s, needed Thompson to fill in announcing while Robinson competed in one of the cattle events. Mark stepped up and announced his first event.
Thompson got his first major opportunity to announce in 1992 when Jon Semper asked him to announce for three days at a Snaffle Bit Futurity event at Selland Arena when it moved to Fresno. After three days, he had done well enough that Semper asked him to stay two more days, and then asked Thompson to announce the finals.
Thompson’s announcing career took another huge leap when Thompson ran into world-famous rodeo announcer, Bob Tallman, at Bishop Mule Days in Bishop California. After a long talk with Tallman, Mark decided to attend Tallman’s rodeo announcer school in Baker City, Oregon. Thompson has announced ever since.
“I’ve been able to meet a lot of great people and see a lot of great horses at these events,” said Thompson of his announcing.
Thompson’s involvement extensive within ag community
Thompson has been a part of the agricultural community his entire life. He grew up on a farm in Sanger, where he was exposed to grapes, oranges, almonds and field crops. His knowledge of the industry and passion for serving members of the agricultural community continues to grow.
Thompson is a graduate from Sanger High School and Reedley College. After Reedley College, he worked as a fieldman for Ballantine Produce Co., overseeing day-to-day operations, including harvest and cultural practices.
After three years at Ballantine Produce Co., Thompson accepted an offer to work for Fresno-Madera Farm Credit (formerly Federal Land Bank) in 1974, where has worked ever since. His experience with a variety of agricultural commodities made him valuable to Farm Credit, including his experience with tree fruit, row crops, nuts, cattle, sheep and grapes.
Since 1990, Thompson has been a chattel appraiser, which includes appraisal of personal property (non-real estate), livestock and inventory. “It’s really been interesting to see the changes in agriculture and the changes in agriculture technology,” Thompson said. “The best part about my job, though, is the people I work with. Ag people are ‘salt-of-the-earth’ people.”
Since 1992, Thompson has been a member of the FCFB Board of Directors. “Farm Bureau is such a friend of agriculture and our neighbors need to know that,” he said.
When not announcing a Snaffle Bit Futurity, the Clovis Rodeo, the World’s Richest, or other Equine events, Thompson has utilized his public speaking skills to emcee numerous local events, including Fresno County Farm Bureau’s Annual Media Appreciation Night, and the Annual Ag Boosters Barbecue.
Despite his heavy involvement with Farm Bureau and his work at Farm Credit, this is just a fraction of his involvement with the agricultural community.
Thompson has also served on the Clovis Rodeo Association; the Fresno-Kings Cattlemen’s Association; the Friends of Rodeo; the Reedley College Ag Backers Committee and Ag Advisory Council; and a member of the Junior Livestock Auction Committee and the Champions Club at the Big Fresno Fair.
Thompson was named to the first Big Fresno Fair Hall of Fame for his years of service to the Junior Livestock Auction, as well as developing programs like the Champion of Excellence for the Ag Youth.
“I am very fortunate to be on several boards,” Thompson said. “The people on these boards are down-to-earth and level-headed, are stewards of the land, and they all have the same values. They are here to do a job; they are supporting agriculture and trying to feed the world. These are the type of people I want to be around.”
Thompson finds his niche
In addition to his talent as a rodeo announcer, Thompson is very thankful to be part of two very successful mule packing teams, competing at the Annual Bishop Mule Days.
Mule packing is a competition where a string of five mules are packed with various loads, and compete in six different events. It is the center focus of Bishop Mule Days. Mark and the Backcountry Horseman Pack Team have won the world championship 3 times and the reserved world championship several times.
In reference to his success, Thompson said: “Everyone is a world champion; all you have to do find your niche.”
Meet Your Board Members Profile: Ag Today, Nov 07
By: John Migliazzo