Meet the Director with UF/IFAS Extension Flagler County
Hi there! My name is Melanie Thomas and I have the honor to serve as your UF/IFAS Extension Flagler County’s new County Extension Director and Family and Consumer Sciences Agent. I’ve wanted to meet you all for a while. I have officially been in this role for almost six months now, starting on January 24, 2020. Unfortunately, I had a good month and a half under my belt before COVID-19 significantly affected our lives. We here are the Extension office certainly have felt those effects as well. Mainly, it’s kept me from being able to get out of the office and meet you all face to face.
Was It Meant to Be?
Today, I want to take the time to introduce myself. I’m a native Floridian. Something you don’t find a whole lot of these days. I spent a significant amount of my childhood living right here in Flagler County. I’m very excited to be back! You might say I was destined to pursue a career in Extension. My mother was a Home Economics and 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent and my step-father was a County Extension Director and Agriculture Agent right here in Flagler County.
It’s Nice to Be Home!
To say I spent a significant amount of time as a child at the Flagler County Extension office would be an understatement. I did everything from sitting quietly in the back of County Commission meetings, visiting local farms and ranches while dad made field visits, and spent countless days and nights on the fairgrounds assisting at the Flagler County Fair. It truly was a family affair and those are some of my favorite memories. If you had asked me back then if I wanted a career in Extension I would have adamantly told you NO. That was a job for my parents and I wanted to be “different”. I’m eating my words and have learned to never say never.
Education and Professional Background
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Health Science from the University of North Florida. I then spent several years working in the medical field. After some convincing, and a significant sales pitch from family and friends, I came to the realization that my passion for educating others was a perfect fit for the mission of Extension. I searched for Extension positions in health and began my Extension career in 2007 as a multi-county Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Agent in Baker, Bradford and Union Counties. While there I focused on health and wellness, food safety and preservation, and financial management. During that time, I went back to school and earned my Master’s degree in Agriculture Education and Communication from the University of Florida. I transferred to the Duval County Extension office in 2013 where I served as a FCS Agent and later Interim County Extension Director.
My role here is to lead the UF/IFAS Extension Flagler County office on the total county Extension program. While my teaching efforts are focused on Family and Consumer Science we have a team of professional educators who focus their efforts on Agriculture, Horticulture, Sea Grant (Marine and Coastal), and 4-H Youth Development. The mission of our office is to address the needs of the community by providing practical, research-based education and services to all Flagler County residents.
Thanks for reading! I am very excited to be working with everyone in Flagler County. Lastly, please feel free to reach out to me whenever you need. You can contact me by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our office (386-437-7464) and ask for me. I can’t wait to hear from you.