Hobarts presented with Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District Lifetime Achievement Award
BLANCHARD — In recognition of their decades of being land stewards through forestry and farming at Breakneck Ridge Farm and efforts to educate young and old about conservation management at the local, state and national level, Steve and Diana Hobart were recognized by the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District (PCSWCD) by receiving the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award during a presentation at their farm on Sept. 16.
Following a morning hayride tour, in which attendees saw the acreage that over the years has been used to raise Hereford beef, fallow deer and American buffalo, continue a tree farm with the original farm started by Steve Hobart’s paternal grandparents as well as to produce maple syrup, and luncheon the Hobarts were formally presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Hobarts, who have lived on the farm property for four decades, were first presented with a Senatorial Statement from the office of U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.
“This is a real honor to be here,” said Rep. Paul Stearns, R-Guilford, who worked with Diana Hobart when they both were in SAD 4. In 2013 Hobart was awarded the PCSWCD Outstanding Educator of the Year honor for fostering exemplary natural resource education in her students and teaching peers.
“It is extremely important to remember what the concept of conservation is all about,” Stearns said. He said running a business and “conserving the natural resources that we have can go hand in hand and this entrepreneurship is a classic example of that.”
Stearns, who retired as SAD 4 superintendent several years ago, jokingly told the the audience gathered outside with the view of the farm namesake Breakneck Ridge behind them that not only did he and Hobart work together at the schools in Guilford but they both are also maple syrup producers. Stearns then clarified that he is only able to end up with five gallons of the syrup per season, far less than the commercial syrup Hobart produces. She is a fifth generation maple syrup producer, and she and her husband have been selling Breakneck Ridge Farm syrup since 1987.
Stearns had a Legislative Sentiment for the PCSWCD Lifetime Achievement recipients, which was also signed by Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, and Rep. Norm Higgins, R-Dover-Foxcroft.
“Teaching has given us an avenue to bring students to the farm,” Diana Hobart said, mentioning her pupils, PCSWCD conservation camp attendees, 4-H and Scouting groups have been visiting the Breakneck Ridge Farm for many years. “We give them syrup and ice cream, and many of them talk about getting Mrs. Hobart’s maple syrup,” when at the grocery store with their parents.
Hobart said several of these young farm visitors have grown up to become maple syrup producers.
Steve Hobart, who is known as “Farmer Steve” to the students, said it is important to show children the Breakneck Ridge Farm because many of them have not grown up around farming and forestry as was true for previous generations. “I felt very possessed to educate more people,” Hobart said, saying students are more likely to remember their visit to the farm long after than how to conjugate a verb for the SAT.
The honorees were then presented with congratulations letters from both the Maine Association of Conservation Districts — Steve Hobart is a former member of the organization’s executive board and served as president from 2002-28 and he also chaired the PCSWCD for many years — and the National Association of Conservation Districts.
PCSWCD Board of Directors Chair Gordon Moore said the Hobarts, “Have just proven themselves to be totally dedicated to conservation. They have put Piscataquis County on the map and we need to be on the map.”
“I have heard a lot of good things about today, but we could not do it without help from people like you,” Steve Hobart said. “It’s the people who are behind you, it’s the staff that’s behind you.”
“Bringing kids out here for education has been huge for us,” Diana Hobart said. “We have had a lot of joy here.”
“I cannot tell you how much this means to us,” Steve Hobart said.
Photo courtesy of PCSWCD
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD — Steve and Diana Hobart, holding the sign bearing their name, of the Breakneck Ridge Farm in Blanchard were honored with the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District’s (PCSWCD) Lifetime Achievement Award on Sept. 16 for their decades of being land stewards through forestry and efforts to educate young and old about conservation management. Pictured are, from left, PCSWCD Board of Directors Vice Chair Toby Hall, Chair Gordon Moore, Diana Hobart, Director Sam Brown, Steve Hobart, Treasurer Janet Sawyer and Director Donna Coffin.
Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
LEGISLATIVE SENTIMENT — Rep. Paul Stearns, R-Guilford, left, presented a Legislative Sentiment to Diana and Steve Hobart of Breakneck Ridge Farm in Blanchard in honor of their receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District.