Powers, Cook honored by NCCFB at fall banquet

Staff Writer

TOWNSEND, Del. (Oct. 20, 2015) — Stewart Ramsey, president of the New Castle County Farm Bureau, opened the group’s annual fall banquet at the town’s firehall Oct. 12 with a request for prayer for State Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, whose father died that morning, and for Wills Passmore, who had been badly burned in an accident hours earlier that day.
Passmore died Wednesday, Oct. 14 at Crozer Medical Center.
The Powers family of Townsend was named New Castle Farm Family of the Year, and ag educator Stephen E. Cook of Newark was honored for Distinguished Service to Agriculture.
Bill Powers Sr. and his wife, Karol Powers-Case, moved from New York to Delaware with their three sons, Bill Jr., Brendan and Joe, in 1968. They purchased a farm in Townsend in 1977 after Bill Jr. graduated from Newark High School.
Ten years later, after his father passed away, Bill Jr. purchased the farm from his mother. He married Joan in 1989, and they had two children, Katie and Will. This third generation has been actively involved in agriculture from a young age.
Katie stayed in Oklahoma after receiving her bachelor’s degree in animal science and master’s in agricultural communications.
She works full time at Oklahoma State University and is a member of the Young Farmers and Ranchers and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and serves as public relations coordinator of the Oklahoma Agri-Women. She is engaged to an ag teacher who is also a hog producer.
Will, who serves as NCC YF&R chairman completed diesel and auto mechanic school and works with his father on the farm, where he is setting up a mechanics shop.
The Powers Farm used to be known for its fresh turkeys. Currently the farm raises sheep, beef cattle, hogs and eggs for local markets and restaurants.
The Powers are all “tireless proponents of Delaware agriculture,” Ramsey said. “The whole family is making a difference in agriculture.”
Bill Jr. and Joan both have been active members of Farm Bureau. Bill served as NCCFB president from 1996 to 2004, while Joan served as NCC Women’s Committee Chair “and the children did their homework in the corner,” Ramsey said. Karol also has been involved with the Women’s Committee and the Ag in the Classroom committee.
Bill Jr. has been a member of several other ag organizations. He was elected New Castle County councilman in 2006 and sits on the County Farmland Preservation Advisory Committee. He was awarded an Honorary State FFA Degree and won the NCC and Delaware Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture Awards in 2006.
The winner of the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award was introduced by Travis Voshell, state YF&R chairman. A graduate of the University of Delaware and former Delaware FFA president, Stephen Cook has taught at Caesar Rodney High School for 18 years, where he also serves as an FFA advisor. He has previously been named Delaware Agriculture Educator of the Year.
Cook has coached numerous state champion teams and individuals in dairy, livestock and meats judging, dairy handling, dairy products, public speaking and more. Several of his former students are now ag education teachers themselves.
In 1993, Cook started the 4-H/FFA Dairy Leasing program in Delaware with the Glasgow 4-H Dairy Club on his family’s dairy farm in Newark. The farm was designated a Century Family Farm last fall.
He developed a swine breeding program that produces feeder pigs for area youth. With his wife, Rhonda, and daughters, Mindy and Madison, Cook continues to produce quality pigs so students have livestock projects for competing at regional and national levels.
Cook inspires students to be passionate about agriculture.
He tells them, “Keep up the good work, but know, there is always better work to be done.”
Cook commented on the importance of telling the ag story. “If you don’t tell it, someone will tell it for you,” he said, and the resulting story may be twisted.
Ashley Gouge, daughter of Ron and Karen Gouge of Newark, won in two categories of the rate-of-gain contest, 4-H sheep and goat. She tied with Miranda Hunter to one-thousandth of a pound per day in the sheep category. Miranda, also from Newark, is daughter of Robyn Hunter. FFA sheep winner was Kelsie Arisman of Newark, daughter of Lora Geist.
Ryan VanSant received a $1,000 NCC Women’s Committee scholarship. Son of Shawn and Denise VanSant of Middletown, he was also chosen NCCFB Youth Ambassador. Scholarships also were awarded to Macie Willoughby, Carl Ramsey, Emily Kelley, Christopher Smith, Amand Peralta and Eric Westbrook.