During the National Agriculture in the Classroom conference last week at the Hershey Lodge, National Grange Board of Directors Chairwoman Betsy Huber presented the annual National Ag Advocate of the Year Award to Evelyn Wilcom of Frederick, Md.
Wilcom, who was not raised in a rural environment, became a champion of agriculture and ag education after marrying and moving to a dairy farm where she and her husband, Mike, raised their three sons.
Wilcom is a retired nurse and has spent countless hours volunteering for organizations that introduce the general public and students to agriculture at shopping centers, fairs, festivals and in schools.
She worked to get children's books about agriculture into Maryland schools, created and fundraised for Frederick's "City Streets, Country Roads" fair, and assisted with teacher training for agriculture in the classroom. She is past chair of both the Frederick County and Maryland Farm Bureau Women's Committees, past board member of the Frederick County Farm Bureau, and current chair of its Education Committee. She also serves as chair of the Elementary Education Committee for the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation. She was also recently recognized for her work with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Maryland Farm Bureau.
"Think of rural America in the 1860s. Farm families were spread over the wide open spaces, with little or no opportunity for educational advancement or even social interaction," Huber said. "The Grange founders recognized this need and created the Grange to serve as the social center of rural communities and source of information about happenings in the outside world. The Grange also was a forum for discussions and learning about scientific advancements and new farming methods."
Huber said this focus on education remains a cornerstone of the organization, introducing those who do not come from farms to agriculture in many ways. The National Ag Advocate Award, she said, allows the Grange to recognized individuals like Wilcom, who inspire children and adults alike and bring to them information and awareness about agriculture.
Huber said she was especially proud to present the award to a fellow Grange member. Wilcom is a member of New Market Grange #362, New Market, Md.
"She is a model for our members who have dedicated themselves to our educational principles," Huber said after she learned Wilcom would be the award recipient. "I couldn't be more thrilled to present her with this very fitting tribute."