Photo of Thomas FernThomas G. Fern was appointed on Nov. 25, 2009, by President Barack Obama to serve as USDA Rural Development State Director for Kentucky.

His background in agriculture dates back to his childhood in rural Fleming County, where he grew up working on his family farm in the Cowan community. He graduated from Morehead State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, Sociology and General Agriculture.

Fern earned his teaching certificate and spent the first two years of his professional career teaching middle school students in a rural school, where he also coached the boys basketball team.

He left teaching and joined USDA to work for the Farmers Home Administration, which was the predecessor to Rural Development. He served 14 years as a county supervisor and another 14 years as an area director for the northeastern and eastern regions of the state.

Fern was first appointed State Director in 1993 during the Clinton Administration and served in that position until 2001. Throughout a career that has spanned more than 40 years, Fern has been involved in issues related to agriculture and rural development.

Fern is married to Lena Rae Gregory Fern, and they have two children and two grandchildren.