Soil Con­ser­va­tion District hon­ors Eck

Record Observer - - Front Page - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­times.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Queen Anne’s County Soil Con­ser­va­tion District held its an­nual Co­op­er­a­tor of the Year ban­quet Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Cen­tre­ville Amer­i­can Le­gion, hon­or­ing this year’s out­stand­ing lo­cal farmer Mark Eck and Fam­ily Farm of In­gle­side for set­ting an ex­am­ple of how soil con­ser­va­tion meth­ods can be used and still have a suc­cess­ful agri­cul­ture busi­ness.

Eck, a life­long and diver­si­fied East­ern Shore farmer, was called “the face of to­day’s farm­ing com­mu­nity,” say­ing he goes above and be­yond the call to be a stew­ard of con­ser­va­tion meth­ods in the state of Mary­land.

Raised on his par­ents’ grain and dairy farm, Eck de­cide while still in high school that the fam­ily needed to di­ver­sify. He built his first chicken house on his dad’s farm in 1977. To­day, he has 12 poul­try houses with 325,000 chick­ens, which equates to pro­duc­ing 1.3 mil­lion chick­ens per year. He also raises long-horned cat­tle and con­tin­ues in the grain busi­ness. Mark’s son, Alan, has a hay

and straw busi­ness and has re­cently pur­chased a 160acre farm di­rectly across from his father’s 1,150 acres.

Mark and Alan both earned their Amer­i­can de­gree in Fu­ture Farm­ers of Amer­ica (which is the equiv­a­lent to an Eagle Scout award). Mark’s daugh­ter, Jenelle, the 2015 Miss Mary­land Agri­cul­ture, who also served as State FFA Pres­i­dent, will re­ceive her Amer­i­can de­gree in FFA this fall as she con­tin­ues her col­lege ed­u­ca­tion. Mark, Alan and Jenelle all have ex­ten­sive back­grounds and ex­pe­ri­ences pro­mot­ing FFA and 4-H, all in lead­er­ship po­si­tions, as does Mark’s wife, Vicky, who has also served as a 4-H leader in Queen Anne’s County. Farm­ing is clearly a fam­ily busi­ness with the Ecks.

Old­est son Kenny also grew up in 4-H and FFA, but he was un­able to at­tend the Thursday pro­gram, as he is now study­ing to be­come a doc­tor at the Univer­sity of Delaware.

Speak­ing at the evening pro­gram were QA Soil Con­ser­va­tion Chair­man Robert Wil­son, District Man­ager An­thony Riggi, and QASCD As­sis­tant Donna Lan­dis-Smith.

Wil­son said, “This has been a very good year for Queen Anne’s County farm­ers, and our county is ranked No. 1 in cover crops in the state, to help pre­vent soil ero­sion.”

A long list of of­fi­cials pre­sented the Eck fam­ily with recog­ni­tions dur­ing the pro­gram, in­clud­ing QASCD’s Wil­son and Riggi; Con­gress­man Andy Har­ris’ com­mu­nity li­ai­son Denise Love­lady; Mary­land State Del­e­gates Jay Ja­cobs and Steve Arentz; Dr. Ter­ron L. Hills­man, State Con­ser­va­tion­ist, Mary­land USDA; and Mary­land De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Hans Sch­midt.

Con­clud­ing the pro­gram, Hills­man pre­sented plaques of sig­nif­i­cant recog­ni­tion to Don­ald Dawkins, of Cen­tre­ville, for his more than 60 years of ser­vice, and to Chair­man Robert Wil­son rec­og­niz­ing that the Queen Anne’s County Soil Con­ser­va­tion District has ex­isted for 75 years, 1941-2016.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

The 2015 Co­op­er­a­tor of the Year award for ex­cel­lence in farm­ing and con­ser­va­tion meth­ods was pre­sented to Mark Eck and fam­ily by the Queen Anne’s County Soil Con­ser­va­tion District on Thursday, Sept. 15. From left, Soil Con­ser­va­tion District Man­ager Tony Riggi, Jenell Eck, Alan Eck with son Eas­ton, 6, Vicky Eck, Mark Eck and Soil Con­ser­va­tion District Chair­man Robert Wil­son.

The Mark Eck fam­ily of In­gle­side was rec­og­nized for ex­cel­lence in farm­ing and con­ser­va­tion meth­ods by the Queen Anne’s County Soil Con­ser­va­tion District as 2015 Co­op­er­a­tor of the Year, along with many other recog­ni­tions from state and fed­eral agen­cies. From left, Eck fam­ily mem­bers hold of each of the printed awards, Alan Eck hold­ing the dis­tin­guished QASCD sign; Mark Eck hold­ing the plaque from USDA Nat­u­ral Re­sources Con­ser­va­tion Ser­vice; Eas­ton Eck, 6, hold­ing the plaque from QACSD; Vicky Eck, hold­ing ci­ta­tion from Con­gress­man Andy Har­ris; and Jenell Eck, hold­ing both the Mary­land De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture recog­ni­tion and a ci­ta­tion from the Mary­land House of Del­e­gates. The en­tire Eck fam­ily was rec­og­nized, in­clud­ing son Kenny who was not able to at­tend.

PHO­TOS BY DOUG BISHOP

From the left, Dr. Ter­ron L. Hills­man, State Con­ser­va­tion­ist, Mary­land USDA, Nat­u­ral Re­sources Con­ser­va­tion Ser­vice, presentS Queen Anne’s County Soil Con­ser­va­tion District Chair­man Robert Wil­son with a plaque rec­og­niz­ing that the QACSCD has been in ex­is­tence for 75 years, 1941-2016, pro­mot­ing and im­ple­ment­ing con­ser­va­tion meth­ods in agri­cul­ture.

Queen Anne’s County Soil Con­ser­va­tion District em­ployee David Dawkins of Cen­tre­ville was rec­og­nized for his more than 60 years of ser­vice. He re­ceived his recog­ni­tion from Dr. Ter­ron L. Hills­man, State Con­ser­va­tion­ist, Mary­land USDA, Nat­u­ral Re­sources Con­ser­va­tion Ser­vice.

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