Four Northern California women were recognized for their contributions to agriculture on Thursday. The Common Threads North award chooses four to six women who are committed to philanthropy above and beyond their contributions to agriculture.
“It’s really special that we’re honoring women who have done so much for their community and in agriculture,” said Helene Dillard, the first female dean of UC Davis’ College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Representing Yolo County, 83-year-old Twyla Thompson was recognized for her 60-plus years of service. Most prominently, she served on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors from 1975 to 1985, the first woman to represent the rural 5th District and the second to sit on the board.
Thompson grew up in Yolo, a small town north of Woodland. She graduated from UCD with a degree in English in the 1950s before settling down on her family’s farm, the H.H. Richter Ranch. After recovering from breast cancer in 2006, she hasn’t slowed down much.
“I still enjoy doing volunteer work that my arthritis will let me do,” she said.
She volunteers at the Woodland Chamber of Commerce, and remains especially focused on water issues as co-chair of its water advisory committee.
“I don’t think there is a solution out there, or a substitute for water,” she said. “The folks that want to go on like they’ve gone on before, with a ‘well it will rain tomorrow’ sort of attitude, you’ve got to plan for maybe what you haven’t planned on.”
The three other women recognized were Jennifer Ryder Fox, Chico State University’s dean of agriculture; Shelley Macdonald, an agriculture lender and appraiser in Tehama County; and Toni Scully of Scully Packing Company in Lake County.
The Common Threads award started in Fresno County, and now recognizes women throughout Southern California.