Dragonfly Cove Farm’s Kilkelly wins Agricultural Adventurers Award.

Thu, 06/13/2024 - 12:30pm

    The New England Fellowship of Agricultural Adventurers presented Marge L. Kilkelly, of Dresden, Maine with the 2024 Agricultural Adventurers Award.

    The award, sponsored by Eastern States Exposition (ESE), is given annually to individuals or families on the basis of innovation, pioneering and lifetime dedication to the betterment of agriculture. ESE officials visited both recipients in Maine to present the distinction on June 11.

    Marge L. Kilkelly

    Marge Kilkelly is recognized for her local, national and international work in agriculture, ag education and agritourism.

    Kilkelly, and her husband Joseph Murray, own and operate Dragonfly Cove Farm, where they raise cashmere goats, poultry, and pigs providing meat, eggs and fiber to local restaurants and consumers. The farm has a commercial kitchen, which they use for cooking classes and the filming of “Nourishing Maine,” a culinary show designed to enhance knowledge of Maine products and home cooking.

    Kilkelly holds a masters of science degree in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University. She has always focused her work on rural economic development and creating opportunities for a robust rural economy. Agritourism is an integral part of her farm’s activities, and she believes that Agritourism is education of the public about agriculture and essential to understanding the need for a robust ag policy.

    She has served as the School Nutrition Director for the Boothbay Region Schools and has traveled the world as an Eisenhower Fellow, a Fleming Fellow, a New England Rural Leaders Fellow and a Brooks Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, and completed a two-year leadership academy with the New England Farm Bureau.

    Kilkelly served in the Maine Legislature for 16 years, ten in the House and six in the Senate, and chaired the standing committees on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; Inland Fish and Wildlife and numerous study committees. She authored the law creating the Maine meat inspection program, as well as co-sponsoring the bill that created the Maine Board of Ag.

    She left the legislature in 2002 to take a position with the Council of State Governments – Eastern Region, which serves state elected officials in ten northeast states, six Eastern Canadian provinces, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Her position was Director of the Northeast States Association for Agricultural Stewardship (NSAAS) – a group that she co-founded to give a stronger voice to the Northeast on federal agricultural policy.

    She led a Dairy Trade Mission to Inner Mongolia in 2005. The team consisted of three legislators who were also dairy farmers, from Maine, New York and Pennsylvania.

    In anticipation of the 2008 Farm Bill, she spent a week in Puerto Rico in 2007 with the House Ag Chair learning about tropical agriculture and unique issues facing their growers. She also assisted in staffing the State Ag and Rural Leaders (SARL) Ag Chairs Summits for many years.

    She was promoted to Deputy Director of the regional office in 2009, overseeing all policy areas in ten northeast states, six Eastern Canadian provinces, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

    In 2011, she was elected President of the newly formed New England Farmers Union, a position she held briefly before being recruited by then Governor Angus King as his Policy Director for his 2012 US Senate Campaign. After the election, she spent six years as his Senior Policy Advisor in Washington, D.C.

    From 2019 to 2021, through the height of the pandemic, she was the Policy Director of the Maine Primary Care Association which serves all of Maine’s Community Health Centers.

    She is the Northeast Regional Representative for the National Pet Food Institute. Currently, she is a member of the Maine Council of Churches Board of Directors, Global Agritourism Network serving on the Policy Committee, College Advisory Board (CAB), University of Maine College of Earth, Life, and Health Sciences.

    She was appointed to the Maine Board of Agriculture by Governor Janet Mills in 2019 and was elected Chair in 2024.