Gov. Jack Markell recognized Delaware’s farming and agricultural leaders as his administration comes to a close, including the awarding of the Order of the First State to two public servants.​

Bob Garey, a Felton-area farmer who chairs the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation, and Bill Vanderwende, a Bridgeville-area farmer who chairs the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission, were received the Order of the First State, the highest honor a Delaware governor can bestow for meritorious service. The men have served since the creation of the foundation and the commission and are noted for their leadership and commitment to advancing agriculture.

"I am proud and pleased to know Bob Garey and Bill Vanderwende and to call them friends," Markell said. “Their courage and hard work have led to improvements in agriculture and to a better quality of life for residents in the First State. They have been dedicated to moving Delaware forward.”

Markell and Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee recently presented tributes from the Markell administration to the members of the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation; the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission; the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission; and the Delaware Harness Racing Commission. Together, they help promote, strengthen and regulate important sectors of Delaware's agricultural industry, made up of 2,400 family farms with an $8 billion economic impact.