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Vernon “Chip” Baker Jr. accepts the Farm Family of the Year Award presented to him and his wife, Judy
LIFELONG FARMER: Vernon “Chip” Baker Jr. accepts the Farm Family of the Year Award presented to him and his wife, Judy.

Changes are happening in 2019 at Delaware Farm Bureau

Richard Wilkins was unanimously elected Delaware Farm Bureau president.

The new year means new changes for Delaware Farm Bureau. The organization is moving forward with a new executive director and a new president in 2019.

Joseph Poppiti, a Delaware native living in Kennett Square, Pa., has been named executive director, replacing Pam Bakerian, who retired after 10 years in the position.

Poppiti has been an agricultural consultant in mushroom production with a side business in landscape design and implementation. He has volunteered for the American Mushroom Institute since 2000 and served as chairman of the board from 2010 to 2014. Poppiti and his wife, Beth, have one grown daughter, Kathryn.

Joseph Poppiti, executive director of Delaware Farm BureauNEW LEADER: Joseph Poppiti, who was chairman of the American Mushroom Institute board from 2010 to 2014, has been named executive director of Delaware Farm Bureau.

Meanwhile, Richard Wilkins, who farms in Greenwood, was unanimously elected Delaware Farm Bureau president. He is a former president of the American Soybean Association and has been president of Kent County Farm Bureau since 2017.

Wilkins and his wife, Donna, purchased their first farm in 1992. He grows soybeans, corn, wheat, barley, hay and vegetables, in addition to raising beef.

He is also the owner of a full-service machinery and equipment dealership, B&W Farm Supply.

Laura Hill was re-elected first vice president of the organization. In 2012, Hill became the first woman to be elected as a Delaware Farm Bureau officer.

William Powers Jr. of Townsend has been elected second vice president. He raises beef, hogs, sheep, goats, turkeys and chickens, and grows hay and corn.

Farm Family of the Year
At the organization’s annual banquet, Vernon “Chip” Baker Jr. and his wife, Judy, of H&V Farms Inc. in Millsboro were introduced as the Farm Family of the Year.

Chip Baker has been involved in agriculture all his life. He was an employee of H.E. Williams & Co. feed mill in Millsboro. He later took over his family’s farm.

He currently farms 621 acres of corn and soybeans and has a 50,000-broiler operation. He’s been farming no-till for 25 years and also plants cover crops.

Baker has been a proponent of conservation practices. In 2017 he was awarded the Governor’s Conservation Award for Agriculture.

Honored for service
The Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award was presented to Ruthie Franczek of Kent County.

Franczek earned her Ph.D in veterinary medicine from the University of Florida and opened her own practice in Newark. She met her husband, Dr. Rich Barczewski, an associate professor at Delaware State University, on a farm. After they married she moved her veterinary practice to Kent County.

Ruthie Franczek was the driving force behind the Birthing Center at the Delaware State Fair. While raising three children and maintaining her busy practice she also found time to be involved in several agricultural associations.

Ruthie Franczek was presented the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award by Delaware Farm BureauDEVOTED VET: Retired veterinarian Ruthie Franczek (right) was presented the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award by Bruce Dempsey of the Delaware Farm Bureau. She ran her own veterinary practices in Newark and Kent County.

In 2017, she retired to spend more time horseback riding and traveling.

Young farmers
The Young Farmer & Rancher Supporter of the Year Award went to Dave and Kitty Holtz.

The YF&R Committee Supporter of the Year Award went to Jonathan Moore, chairman of Kent County YF&R.

The 2018-19 State Youth Ambassador Award winner is Helena Kirk, a senior at Middletown High School. She is active in FFA, 4-H, church, wildlife and deer management groups, and the National Rifle Association.

She served as 2017-18 New Castle County Youth Ambassador.

Source: Delaware Farm Bureau

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