Tom Knecht was born March 6, 1941, in Elgin, Ill. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 1963 and 1965, respectively, and a doctorate in adult and community college education from North Carolina State University (NCSU) in 1994.
Knecht began his communications career as publications director with the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Illinois from 1974 to 1978. He was appointed head of the office of publications in the UIUC College of Agriculture in 1978. He moved to the department of agricultural communications at North Carolina State University in 1985, serving as leader of the publications section from 1985 to 1994, production and special projects coordinator from 1994 to 1996, and department head from 1996 to 1998. He was appointed head of the office of agricultural communications at Mississippi State University in August 1998.
Knecht has been active in ACE since 1980. He served as chair of the marketing SIG from 1996-97. He chaired the Strategic Planning Committee from 1998 to 2000. In 2000-01 he was ACE state representative for Mississippi. He served on the Planning Committee for the 1999 ACE international meeting and was co-chair of the Planning Committee for the Risk Communication Superworkshop held in Orlando in May 2000.