Isaacs, Parkers lauded by Sussex FB

Staff Writer

BRIDGEVILLE, Del. (Oct. 13, 2015) — Mark Isaacs, director of the Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown, Del., since 1991, was surprised and honored, he said, to receive the Sussex County Farm Bureau’s 2015 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award at the bureau’s annual dinner on Oct. 3.
Clifton and Connie Parker of Frankford were honored that evening as SCFB’s Farm Family of the Year.
Isaacs is a lifelong resident of Sussex County. He grew up on the family grain, poultry and hog farm in Georgetown. He studied at Clemson University, earning bachelor and master’s degrees in agronomy and soils there, and a doctorate in weed science from Virginia Tech.
He started working for the University of Delaware in 1986 at what was then the “substation” in Georgetown as an Extension assistant in environmental quality, where he worked with farmers to develop best management practices for nutrient management.
In his remarks after the presentation, Isaacs said, “they may have called it ‘environmental quality assistance,’ but it was calibrating manure spreaders.”
Earlier he greeted Rueben Ockels, who has been farming all of his 90 years, and recalled such calibrations on Ockels’ farm in his earliest working days.
Isaacs became crops research coordinator for the substation, then advanced to director for the research and education center, which includes the Thurman Adams Jr. Agricultural Research Farm, Warrington Research Farm and Lasher Laboratory.
In this role, he has worked with local and state officials on addressing and identifying agricultural needs for the state to ensure Delaware agriculture is strong and prepared for the future.
Isaacs has conducted applied research in crop production in the areas of weed management, nutrient management and irrigation. He has advised graduate students  and worked with high school and undergrad students on special ag projects. He has taught classes at the university in Newark and at Del Tech.
He has worked with state commodity board, served on legislative and governor-appointed task force groups, goards of education and policy and scholarship committees.
He currently serves on the board of directors for the Sussex County Land Trust and is a member of the Weed Science Society of America, Northeastern Society of Agricultural Research Managers and the Delaware Farm Bureau.
Doug Corey, presenting the award, said he himself was one of many farmers whom Isaacs had helped.
Laura Hill, first vice president of Delaware Farm Bureau, presented the SCFB’s Farm Family of the Year Award to Clifton and Constance Parker of Frankford. Hill said those names were unfamiliar to her, she knows the couple as Cliff and Connie.
Clifton Parker quit college to return to his parents’ farm and farm full-time. Hill quoted him saying, “My parents were not pleased. They had me add to the existing operation before I could become a part of it. I rented the neighbor’s chicken houses and never looked back. My father gave me responsibilities and the right to fail and to succeed. For this I am forever grateful.
“I love the land and protect the landowners rights whenever they are threatened,” he said.
Among those threats are the harvest of deer on his own land, the state’s plan to put an unneeded highway through existing farmland, or wetland legislation that threatens land owner rights.
“I stand up for what I believe to be right and fair. I want my children and grandchildren to have the ability to choose what they want to do with the land we own when I am no longer here.”
Parker joined DFB in 1981 and has served as a Sussex County Director and county delegate to the state convention. He is also a past board member of Delaware Farm Credit and MidAtlantic Farm Credit. With Connie’s help, he grows corn, soybeans, wheat and raises broilers for Mountaire. He has been named Delaware Tree Farmer of the Year as well as Grower of the Year for Golden Pride, Hudson Foods, Tyson Foods and Allen Family Foods. He also received the Poultry Environmentalist Award.
Without other help to run the farm operation, Parker has given up serving on boards. “I simply do not have the time or energy after a day’s work to volunteer,” he said. “I thank those who serve. I do and always will, however, make myself available whenever a need arises.
“I love farming and appreciate this award very much,” he concluded.
Brad Ritter and Joe Marine, retiring directors, also were honored. Doug Corey was elected to a three-year term as director.
In the Delaware Farm Bureau Rate-of-Gain Contest, Samantha Kirk was the sole winner, taking prizes for her 4-H hog and 4-H goat. Samantha, daughter of Matt and Michelle Kirk of Laurel, has served the past two years as Sussex County Farm Bureau’s Youth Ambassador.