Andrew Wargo III looked over the podium and with a wry smile said, “As you have undoubtedly figured out, my boss is surely telling the truth when he says I’ll do anything to get out of the office.”
Wargo had just listened to Kevin Cochran, district conservationist for the USDA-NRCS in Lonoke County, Ark., read a long list of Wargo’s activities on behalf of soil and water conservation efforts in Arkansas and the nation.
To Wargo’s many friends, his comment was typical of the self-deprecating humor he has shown over the years as he quietly worked to help Baxter Land Co., tenants and other farmers increase their profitability while improving the environmental stewardship on their farms.
In recognition of those efforts, Wargo received the Outstanding Conservationist Award presented annually by the Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Ark.
Wargo, who has served as business agent for Baxter Land Co., in Watson, Ark., for 50 years, said the award is not his alone.
“I have been mentored and supported by literally hundreds of people,” he said. This award is not for me. It’s for a team that reaches from Washington, D.C., to the tenants on our farm.
“I could not be more pleased with the support I’ve had from the head of NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), the office of the national agronomist, Mike Sullivan, who just came in as the state conservationist for Arkansas, and so many others. My family has also been very supportive of my work.”
As business manager at Baxter Land Co., Wargo has been responsible for 15,000 acres of row crop land over those 50 years.
“In this role, he has coordinated with tenants on crop rotations, variety selection, weed and insect control strategies, irrigation planning and implementation of conservation activities,” said Cochran.
“He has also found time to serve off the farm on various boards, including the Bayou Tensas Regional Irrigation Water Distribution Board, the Delta Conservation Demonstration Center, the Arkansas Watershed Coalition, the Arkansas City Drainage District, Desha County Conservation District Board, the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts and the National Association of Conservation Districts.”
Cochran said Wargo was also instrumental in helping Arkansas become a national leader in addressing pigweed herbicide resistance.
“Because of his leadership, the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts facilitated a conference to qualify technical service providers to assist farmers with pest and nutrient management, write conservation activity plans, address herbicide resistant weeds and more,” he noted.
“As a result, Arkansas is now the leading state in respect to the number of TSPs who are certified to assist with the issues.”