2018 Cooperator of the Year
At our annual dinner, held on May 22, 2019, the Charles Soil Conservation District recognized James Elmer Hill, Jr. – “Junior” to all who know him – as the Charles Soil Conservation District 2018 Cooperator of the Year.
Junior has worked with the Soil Conservation District over the last 25 years to install many agronomic Best Management Practices. He uses a complete no-till system to plant his crops and plants cover crops on most of his cropland acres, weather permitting. He often plants some of his small grain cover crops before October 1st, maximizing the benefit to the soil and the Chesapeake Bay.
Junior has current conservation plans on 28 tracts in Charles County, covering over 860 acres of farmland. His dedication to a complete no till system has demonstrated its worth by significantly reducing soil erosion. During visits to his farms for cover crop spot checks and conservation plan updates, very little indication of rill erosion is evident, even on highly erodible fields. His work demonstrates the advantages of long term no-till farming and how proper agronomic practices can reduce the need for structural practices on some agricultural land. His cropping system, implementing the big three agronomic conservation practices of residue management, no-till, conservation crop rotation, and nutrient management on over 860 acres of cropland, sets his farming apart.
During the dinner program, numerous other agencies and offices also recognized Junior Hill and presented him with citations and certificates of appreciation. Charles County Commissioners presented him with a Charles County Commissioners Citation and Del. Edith Patterson presented a Maryland General Assembly Citation. Recognitions were also presented on behalf of the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Governor Larry Hogan, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Congressman Steny Hoyer, and Senators Benjamin Cardin and Chris Van Hollen.
Congratulations are again extended to James Elmer Hill, Jr. for being recognized for his lifetime commitment to conservation-minded farming in Charles County through his consistent implementation of conservation tillage and planting of cover crops.
2017 Annual Dinner
The Charles Soil Conservation District hosted Charles County’s 30th Annual Cooperator Dinner held May 30, 2018 at the Charles County Agricultural and Environmental Service Center in Waldorf. Keynote speaker, Dr. Sara Via, gave a presentation on Soil Health; and the Envirothon program and trainers were recognized for celebrating the completion of the program’s 25th year.
Lynne Wheeler of the Southern Maryland Audubon Society was also honored for her outstanding contribution to the District. Ms. Wheeler was a spark, experienced adviser, generous volunteer and critical component in the District’s process of applying for and being awarded Charles County Watershed Protection and Restoration and Chesapeake Bay Trust grant funding for both the design and implementation of several conservation practices on the Charles County Agricultural and Environmental Service Center farm. She assisted in a variety of areas some of which include Zekiah Watershed research; native landscaping and plant expertise; bioretention, native planting and pollinator habitat area design and development; and interpretive signage design. With the District Board and Ms. Wheeler’s direction, expert advice, generosity of time and eye for quality control, the District is well on its way to creating a showcase for future environmental education in Southern Maryland.
The Charles Soil Conservation District Board of Supervisors and its staff are very excited with the urban and agricultural conservation opportunities the Charles County Agricultural and Environmental Service Center presents for the future.
2016 Cooperator of the Year
At our annual dinner held on May 10, 2017, the Charles Soil Conservation District recognized Russell Shlagel and family, owners of Shlagel Farms in Waldorf, as the Charles Soil Conservation District 2016 Cooperator of the Year.
Purchased in 1912 from the German–American Colonization & Land Company of Maryland, Shlagel Farms, like many Southern Maryland farms, primarily grew tobacco until the 1980s. More recently, the Shlagel family has been growing vegetables, strawberries, pumpkins and grains, maintaining livestock and are planning for wildlife and pollinator habitat development on their 301-acre farm.
Since becoming a cooperator with the District in 1998, Mr. Shlagel has implemented numerous best management practices to improve the sustainability of his farm and improve the natural resources in the Zekiah Watershed. The Shlagel family has installed three sediment control ponds, 1.25 acre of grassed waterway, 605 linear feet of grassed diversion, 0.1 acres of heavy use area protection, 70 linear feet of lined outlet, and 882 feet of tile drainage. Some of these practices were installed with financial assistance from the State MACS and the Federal EQIP programs; however, he installed several practices out of his own desire to improve conservation on his farm. Mr. Shlagel also participates in the cover crop program and maintains a current nutrient management plan. Additionally, Mr. Shlagel plans to install several best management practices over the next three years to further protect his soil and water as well as enhance pollinator habitat.
During the dinner program, numerous other agencies also recognized the Shlagel family and presented them with Citations and Certificates of Appreciation. Represented in this group were: the Charles County Commissioners, the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Maryland General Assembly, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Cong. Steny Hoyer’s office. Shlagel Farms had also been recognized by the Maryland Department of Agriculture earlier this year as a Maryland Century Farm in recognition of the farm being owned and operated by the family for more than 100 years.
Congratulations are again extended to Russell Shlagel and his family for their conservation work as demonstrated by their application of best management practices on their family farm – Shlagel Farms.
Cooperator of the Year Past Recipients
- 2018: James Elmer Hill, Jr., “Junior”
- 2017: No Cooperator of the Year – Charles SCD Board Recognition
- 2016: Shlagel Farms – Russel Shlagel and Family (Maryland Century Farm)
- 2015: Persistence Creek Farm – The Warring Family
- 2014: King Edward Stable Inc. – Mary Alice Good (FSCAP Certified)
- 2013: Apple Grove Farms – Peter Weber
- 2012: Rock Hall Farm – Wiliam L. Rice, Sr. and Melinda Rice
- 2011: End of Trail Farm – David and Bertie Spalding
- 2010: Harold Brent Garner, Jr.
- 2009: Old Fields Farm – Hancock Family
- 2008: Michael, Barbara, and Shirley Roberts
- 2007: William Devane
- 2006: Hancock Brothers Partnership – Chester, David, and Wayne Hancock
- 2005: Stephen Hales (posthumous)
- 2004: Thomas Mac Middleton
- 2003: Deanna Bias
- 2002: Clarence Tucker
- 2001: Franklin Robinson
- 2000: Francis V. Wheatley, Jr.
- 1999: Casper Bradbury
- 1998: Tommy Biggs and Leonard Goddard
- 1992-1997: None selected
- 1991: Wathen Brothers
- 1990: Marion and Victoria Cook
- 1989: Joseph and Lana Edelen
- 1988: Chester, Clark, and Henry Bowling