Soil Conservation District honors Eck
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.
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.
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.