Stroud Water Research Center congratulates Jamie Hicks — friend, neighbor, and innovative farmer — who is working with our research and restoration teams on water quality and soil health initiatives. In November, the Chester County Commissioners and the Chester County Agricultural Development Council (Ag Council) recognized Jamie with their Farmer of the Year award.
Hicks is the owner-operator of Hicks IV, a cropping business farming over 5,000 leased acres in the region, including many fields within our research watershed surrounding the Stroud Center. Well-managed cropland and pastures are critical to protecting the nearby East branch of White Clay Creek, recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection as an Exceptional Value waterway.
Hicks goes well beyond traditional measures of good stewardship.
“Jamie is constantly pushing the envelope of excellence,” says David Wise, watershed restoration manager. “He welcomes the challenge of finding better and more efficient ways to produce food and fiber that are at once profitable and environmentally sustainable. But what sets him apart is that he asks questions about what’s possible, questions some of us have never contemplated. In this way, Jamie is an active collaborator with us in identifying new areas of scientific inquiry.”
Several of the Stroud Center’s agriculturally related research projects benefit from a direct collaboration with Hicks, including the groundbreaking Watershed Impact Trial at the Stroud Preserve near West Chester, Pennsylvania. He, Cynthia Petrone-Hudock with HempAlternative, and Stroud Center Executive Director David Arscott have designed and undertaken a fiber hemp production and water quality investigation.
At the same time, our watershed restoration team implements a range of conservation projects on lands farmed by Hicks, who personally fosters relationships between our staff and landowners. Some of the forested buffers protecting streams in our research watersheds are a direct result of connections Jamie made.
Stewardship is a core value in his approach to farming. “To be a good steward of the land in all aspects, I work with Stroud to understand what happens under the soil and in the streams to make sure what I’m doing as a farmer is the right thing,” says Hicks.
Many recognize his importance to the community. As reported by Steven Hoffman for Chester County Press, Hicks is widely regarded by his peers in agriculture and by local officials. “Jamie Hicks is a leader in Chester County’s agriculture industry in every sense,” Commissioner Josh Maxwell was quoted as saying. “His business is a great example of how successful farming and environmental stewardship go hand-in-hand.”
The Stroud Center gratefully acknowledges the many contributions Jamie has made to conservation while advancing our understanding of agriculture’s role in freshwater protection.