Barbara Thompson worked approximately 37 years helping Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) scientists publish manuscripts that aided growers and others in Florida’s citrus industry. For the last several years, she also took over the CREC reception area. She greeted visitors, answered phones and helped growers locate the proper researcher or other agency that could answer their questions. She retired at the end of 2019.
Thompson started work at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences CREC in 1973 after passing a typing test. “I got lucky,” she recalled. “I went to the employment office in Winter Haven and they sent me here for an interview. I not only got a job; I got a career helping the most delightful people in doing what I love.”
Thompson worked a few different stints for several years, taking time off to return to her native Arkansas and to be a stay-at-home mom. Her last stint began in January 1987 and lasted 33 years. During that stretch, she was a word processing operator and supervisor and an editorial assistant.
“I still do manuscripts for those few who still require my assistance,” Thompson reported shortly before turning off her computer for the last time. She formatted researchers’ papers to match university requirements, ran spell-check and edited copy to ensure everything was properly punctuated and grammatically correct.
“English has always been my passion, so I enjoy absorbing myself into an article of science, and even though I may not completely understand the science, I can take my knowledge of the English language and make this science article emerge into something for which the center can be proud,” Thompson said. “That has always been my goal with every project.”
“The faculty I have worked with along the way have become like family,” Thompson said. “They have made this an awesome place to work and made it feel more like my second home.”
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