The Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District held its annual banquet Thursday night, recognizing various local agricultural enthusiasts.
District Chairman Tommy Houser handed out plaques to the award recipients, following a presentation on North Carolina’s changing farming industry by the state’s Assistant Commissioner for Agricultural Services, Richard Reich.
Reich, who worked in Lincoln County from 1976 to 1978 as an assistant agricultural agent, spoke on the various trends impacting the state’s leading industry today, highlighting an increase in efficiency for many facets of farming.
He additionally touched on the importance of research moving forward to continue to achieve better productivity and sustainability within agriculture, which accounts for 17 percent of North Carolina’s economy.
Next on the program was the awards portion of the evening.
“This banquet is the district’s opportunity to recognize several individuals in our county that are working hard to protect our natural resources,” District Program Coordinator Patty Dellinger said of the event.
Among those recognized were local students, an Envirothon Team advisor and the Conservation Farm Family.
For his writing on “Water — The Cycle of Life,” which he read to banquet attendees, North Lincoln Middle School student Josh Fesmire was named the winner of the sixth-grade essay contest.
Meanwhile, Tim Stilwell, a junior at Lincolnton High School, shared some of his experiences at the Resource Conservation Workshop, conducted in June at N.C. State University. The five-day study focuses on wildlife, soils, forests and water quality.
Lenae Scafidi, advisor for Envirothon, was recognized for her support of Lincoln County’s two teams this year. Both from Lincolnton High School, the groups participated in the area-level competition in March.
Also honored Thursday evening was the recipient of the Blair Goodson Award, named in honor of a 52-year member of the Soil and Water Board. This year, the honor went to Steve Gurley, a retired planner with the city of Lincolnton and a soil scientist.
The 2013 Conservation Farm Family, Gerald and Leslie Frye of Glen Creek Farm, officially accepted their plaque after having been named as the award winners earlier this year. The couple raises beef cattle on Flay Road in western Lincoln County and have secured a conservation easement with the Catawba Lands Conservancy to preserve their land.
“It’s been the finest thing we’ve experienced,” Gerald Frye told the crowd of running the farm.