MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — “You can’t do any better than Greg.”
That’s what the Knox County Farm Service Agency Executive Director Katie Mills, and several others, said June 18 when they presented coworker Greg Cook with the Distinguished Service to FSA/Agriculture award.
Cook, 58, also won the regional award, and in August, he will receive the national award in North Carolina, at the annual convention of the National Association of FSA County Office Employees.
The award recognizes his commitment to FSA and to Knox County, where he has worked for nearly 24 years. Greg is considered Ohio’s “Key” Program Technician and he helps with programs like Conservation Reserve, Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE), and many other agricultural programs administered by FSA.
The “Key” part of his title designates him as a liaison to program technicians in other counties, where he helps with training and other state issues.
There are about five employees in the Knox County FSA office, and 6,000 in all of the national association. To be named the top person is truly as good as it gets.
“I was shocked (and) overwhelmed,” he said. “It’s an honor.”
But the people Cook works with, including the many farmers, were not shocked. They said he deserved the award and praised him for helping them understand the often complex programs offered by the federal government.
Ed Piar, a grain farmer from southern Knox County, said he’s known Cook since he started at the Knox County FSA in 1994.
Piar described him as “someone who knows what’s going on and how it is every year.”
In the nomination letter, Piar said Cook is “a person of knowledge — understanding the complex farm programs and even more important, being able to explain these programs to me so that I understand them.”
As executive director, Mills oversees the county office and its staff. But she admits, Cook is “by far the most knowledgeable person I know, knowing the procedures” inside and out.
Doug Gifford, district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, has worked with Cook for more than 20 years. In his nomination letter, he said Cook has done a good job helping both FSA and NRCS work together.
“His (Cook’s) concern is that we all work together to give the customer the best product that we can give,” Gifford wrote. “Greg is very deserving of consideration for this award.”
Darrell Kick, a field representative for U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, presented Cook with a congressional certificate commending Cook for his years of service, and for being a good interpreter of farm policy at the farm level.