PGSCD celebrates 75th anniversary

Managing Editor

BRANDYWINE, Md. (May 2, 2016) — On March 8, 1941, farmers in Prince George’s County voted to establish the Prince George’s Soil Conservation District, and it would be approved by the state a month later as the seventh of its kind in Maryland.
Celebrating the district’s 75th anniversary last week, local, state and federal agriculture conservation officials praised its commitment to managing and preserving the area’s natural resources.
“You have a great history. You have such a fantastic story,” said Jeremy Peters, CEO of the National Association of Soil Conservation Districts. “I look forward to working together and working with you on the next 75 years.”
Kent County claims the oldest soil conservation district and while Prince George’s was the seventh district created, it’s the fourth to reach the 75-year mark as other districts based on watershed boundaries merged into county-based districts, according to Lee McDaniel, a Harford County farmer and current president of the NACD.
The district maintains offices in Upper Marlboro and Largo with at total staff of about 20 employees, said Cal Steuart, chairman of the district’s supervisors, who emceed the event. He added in 1941 the county had 2,158 farms occupying 144,390 acres and now there are about 1,200 farms on 60,000 acres.
“That’s where we stated,” he told the crowd of about 200 gathered at Robin Hill Farm. “Much has changed.”
With much focus on soil and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Steuart said the role of conservation districts is never more important and their independence of government “has certainly led to the preservation of soil conservation districts in the United States.”
But, he added, “we can’t do this by ourselves and we haven’t done this by ourselves. We have partners.” Those partners, from County Executive Rushern Baker III to the Maryland Department of Agriculture to the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and more brought citations and accolades marking the 75th anniversary.
Jason Weller, NRCS chief, said the district’s work at the local level is emblematic of what needs to happen around the world to help meed the food demands of anticipated population boom in the next 40 years.
“This is fundamental stuff, folks,” Weller said. “This is about being able to secure our food and protect our water.”