To those who know Salisbury loan officer Zach Evans, his new title as the 2018 Agriculture Ambassador of the Year likely comes as no surprise - especially if you’ve seen his rap sheet. From discovering his impact in LEAD MD to helping re-create what is today the Wicomico County Fair, and wearing many other hats in between, Zach has definitely earned this award and recognition.
For context, Zach grew up in Linthicum, Maryland, in Anne Arundel County - much further from the farm than he is today. With no background in agriculture, he didn’t know anything about Farm Credit until he started as a marketing intern in April 2009 while completing his Bachelors of Science in Marketing at Salisbury University. In October 2010, Zach began serving our association and the ag community as a loan officer, building relationships with his customers. He elaborates, “My work in the ag community really stems from a deep appreciation and respect for what our farmers do and their commitment to the lifestyle.”
From 2012 until 2014, Zach sat on the board of the Wicomico Farm & Home Show (WFHS), creating the educational programming for kids at the event through partnerships with the local library and groups like “Scales and Tails”. If you ask him why education is important, he’ll be quick to tell you, “Ag advocacy and awareness has to start with children. When you’re raised outside of ag, the idea of having chickens or operating a tractor seems so out of reach.”
The 2014 event brought a new set of challenges to their leadership that the group faced head on, but later caused a lot of discussion about what would come next. Amidst low event attendance, WFHS faced uncertainty with no succession plan or strategy for the future.
Zach and the group at WFHS made the decision to join forces with the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce to merge events that would continue to celebrate the culture of the Eastern Shore and its deep roots in agriculture, creating the first Wicomico County Fair in 2015. Zach and his group of leaders took the fair from 5,000 attendees to over 17,000 in just four years, providing three days of free ag-oriented programming for the local community.
But that’s not all. Zach also holds the Agricultural Banking Seat for Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), in addition to serving on their executive committee and administrative council. He is a LEAD MD Fellow (Class IX), serves on the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce voting council, and helps to plan the National Folk Festival.
We asked Zach how he manages to balance all of this responsibility, and you can tell that he’s truly passionate about the greater mission: “People aren’t aware of all the opportunities that agriculture provides – you don’t have to be a farmer to contribute to this industry. I do this because I believe it’s the right thing. People need food and it’s going to get harder to grow it and meet consumer demands. The doors to this industry can sometimes feel closed, but they’re not. I believe it’s our job to keep them open.”