University of Maryland Extension

A Dean's Eye View of the Lower Eastern Shore

The plane provided for the Dean's Aerial tour.

When Dr. Beyrouty came onboard with the University of Maryland Extension as the new Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) in November 2015, Maryland’s landscape compared to be much different from his previous time spent at Colorado State University serving as the Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences.  With a change in the landscape, it would only be expected that the natural resources Maryland is home to would be much different than the dry, water-challenged state of Colorado.


Serving as AGNR’s new Dean, Dr. Beyrouty wanted to have a full understanding of the benefits, uniqueness, and challenges of the state’s natural resources that Maryland farmers and producers have to work with.  It’s always been said – Maryland is as diverse as America is as a whole.  From the mountains to the ocean, Maryland is home to just about every sector of farming. One of the strongest agriculture sectors is the poultry industry, which has not been left without recent challenges from special interest groups who do not understand the importance of Maryland’s role in 1.) providing affordable food to local communities as well as the nation, 2.) providing employment to many citizens of the state, and 3.) that farmers are stewards of the land. 


The Dean in the planeMany farmers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore are often involved in more than one sector of agriculture such as grain crops, vegetables, cattle, and poultry. To gain the best understanding of the current atmosphere of agriculture on the Eastern Shore, Dr. Beyrouty wanted to have the best view on the current infrastructure of farms as well of the lay of the land across the region. Here posed the challenge – to observe that landscape, which Maryland farmers have a hand in allowing to flourish and prosper, in the span of a few hours.


What better way than taking to the skies to observe from a bird’s eye view.


Special thanks to Corman Airport out of Greenwood, Delaware for offering an aerial tour to Dr. Beyrouty.  Flying with him were UME Poultry Specialist, Jon Moyle, and UME Senior Agent Associate, Jessica Flores.  Together, they took flight over the Lower Eastern Shore to highlight the importance of how integrated agriculture is into the culture, landscape and history of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. 


While in the sky, it was very clear as to the breadth of waterways that carve through the landscape.  It was discussed how these waterways influence the health of both land and waters of the state.


An aerial view of a farmGrowing suburban areas were distinguishable on what was once open land.  The reason for this growth is not surprising as the landscape and natural resources of the Eastern Shore are beautiful.  The Shore is home to many forms of wildlife which current residents and those migrating to Maryland long to enjoy.


As the flight continued, different types of farms were pointed out – vegetable farms, grain crop farms, farms that pastured livestock, and most easy to distinguish poultry farms.  The flight allowed for how the poultry industry has changed over time to be observed. Old poultry houses, smaller in size, lacked the new construction storm water management features.  Newly constructed poultry houses, easy to spot with their metal roofs shining, truly showed how farms have a tremendous footprint within the communities.   As the pilot headed southeast, we flew over the town of Crisfield in Somerset County. In its glory days, Crisfield was the crab capital of the world.  The flight then took a turn north, taking those in the plane over Snow Hill where the Worcester County Extension Office could be seen before traveling toward Assateague Island.  It was eye opening to see how quickly and easily it was to travel from the bay to the beach.


In flying across the lower shore counties of Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, and Worcester it was visible in how rural our communities are with the many acres of open crop fields and evident woodlands.  The Lower Eastern Shore continues to maintain a strong relationship with the land, natural resources, and waterways which allow communities within to flourish. 


Gaining perspective from a bird’s eye view seemed rather fitting as Maryland’s Eastern Shore is home to the #1 economic driving force of Maryland’s agriculture industry – poultry farming. 


An aerial view of a farmToday’s challenge abroad is finding a balance.  Agriculture should have the ability to be productive and flourish.  Communities should have the ability to prosper by having access to affordable food and clean water.  Enjoyment of Maryland's bountiful natural resources for all residing within the state should be had for all living and working in those communities. The University of Maryland Extension is “Solutions within our Communities.”  With his new perspective and knowledge of agriculture on the Eastern Shore, Dr. Beyrouty will be directing efforts and program initiatives to strengthen and encourage the future growth of Maryland farming while responsibly managing Maryland’s natural resources.


 

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