Mark B Darlington
Mark Darlington has been a Technical Specialist, Level II ACES enrollee since April 2009. Mark assists the NRCS Mid-coast Zone offices located in Augusta, Belfast and Warren, Maine. Some of his duties include assisting with layout, design, certification, reporting of conservation practices, and providing conservation planning assistance to staff and producers. Mark also assists in the development of new program contracts as well as with the maintenance of existing contracts.
Born and raised on a farm in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, Mark is a 5th generation cranberry grower. The family farm is part of Ocean Spray Cranberries, an international co-op. His Great-Aunt was a pioneer in the cultivation of high-bush blueberries, and the farm, now under his brother’s control, still produces some of the varieties that she developed. High bush blueberries are cultivated to be bigger and sweeter than other blueberries, and Mark is proud to say that the Elizabeth variety they named for his Great Aunt is the biggest and sweetest blueberry of them all!
Mark has brought to the job a Doctorate in Biology and a Masters in Entomology (insects) and Applied Ecology, which has been of use in educational outreach and in helping the Maine Department of Agriculture with the search for invasive pests like the Asian Longhorn Beetle. He also teaches as an adjunct instructor at a local community college and just taught a “Jan Plan” course at Colby College, a full 3 credit course presented in only 4 weeks during the month of January.
About the ACES Program, Mark says “I was very lucky to get into the ACES Program. For once, being over 55 was a plus! What I love about working for the Natural Resource Conservation Service is that we are the good guys. If a farmer has environmental problems, we give him assistance, not a fine. A good farmer is always trying to protect his land for now and into the future, but often doesn’t have the financial and technical resources to do the job right, so that’s what we do. It’s hands-on, very practical applied ecology.”