DFB praised by Markell, Kee for work

Staff Writer

DOVER, Del. (Dec. 13, 2016) — Delaware Farm Bureau itself was the recipient of one of the several awards presented at its 72nd annual banquet held at Modern Maturity on Dec. 1.
Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee was special envoy from Gov. Jack Markell to present a tribute to the grassroots organization that serves as a unified voice of farmers in the First State.
Kee said the tribute was in “gratitude and appreciation not only for what you do for agriculture but for the whole state across the board.”
The award recognizes DFB “for continued representation and tireless efforts on behalf of Delaware farmers.”
Kee called attention to creation of the non-profit Delaware Farm Bureau Foundation and the mobile Ag Lab, which had been a gift from Delaware Department of Agriculture and has already reached thousands of children with lessons on agriculture. “Thanks for your service to the Delaware ag industry,” Kee said.
DFB President Kitty Holtz accepted the award. She had surprised Kee moments earlier with a special gift, an engraved clock, in gratitude for all he has done for Delaware agriculture.
Holtz noted the governor, as he appointed Kee ag secretary in 2009, said he wanted “someone who feels agriculture who feels in their bones and who has walked where farmers have walked.” Holtz added, “Ed Kee certainly fit the bill.”
Jesse Vanderwende, Sussex County Farm Bureau president, presented the 2016 DFB Family of the Year Award to Guy and Nancy Phillips. Vanderwende said Phillips fell in love with agriculture at an early age.
As a teen, he spent weekends working on the Harold Short Family Farm, perhaps as much out of love for Short’s daughter, whom he later married, as for his love of farming.
Phillips studied agriculture education at the University of Delaware and taught one year in New Castle County before moving back to Sussex County.
After 19 years as a poultry supervisor for Townsend Farms, Phillips realized his dream of becoming a full-time farmer in 1995. In 2003, he became responsible for the operation of the Short farm, with the help of Nancy and their three children. He currently farms 300 acres or more and operates two poultry houses.
Son Dale has his own farming business, but he and his father work as partners with and for each other.
Phillips served as SCFB President for six years and is a SCFB director.
He has served on many committees, is involved in DPI and is a member of the National Association of Conservation Districts Soil Health Champion Network.
Dale Ockels of Milton received the 2016 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award in absentia.
Ockels began farming at age 15, and while still in high school, kept the family farm running, with the help of his uncle, when his father was confined to bed for a while.
Ockels and his brothers, Dennis and Gary, till 4,000 acres of grain and have a poultry operation with room for 135,000 birds.
Ockels served on the National Pork Producers Council and the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission.
He is a member of the board of directors of MidAtlantic Farm Credit, the Governor’s Council on Agriculture, the Sussex County Land Trust and the Sussex County Soil Conservation District.
Holtz presented the 2016 Youth Ambassador Award to Ashley Hurd, who enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to represent Delaware Farm Bureau in the coming year.
Stewart Ramsey, New Castle County Farm Bureau president, introduced Emerson Hickey, student at Alfred G. Waters Middle School, who read her winning Ag in the Classroom essay.
Jacob Urian, recently elected chair of the Young Farmers and Ranchers group, announced that YF&R’s Member of the Year, who had served as an officer, chaired the strawberry festival and started a family in 2016, was Rebecca Bobola.
She had left the banquet, however, “to put the youngest YF&R member to bed,” Urian said, referring to Bobola’s 4-month-old son, Brant.
Paul and Jan Cartanza were honored as 2016 YF&R Committee Supporters of the Year.