February is celebrated as Black History Month. As an industry, agriculture owes a lot to inventions and leadership of African-Americans. From nationally recognized leaders such as George Washington Carver, Booker T. Whaley, Henry Blair and Booker T. Washington to local influencers such as James Oliver Crosby, first president of N.C. A&T University, and Neil Alexander Bailey, first African-American cooperative extension agent. The N.C. Agricultural Hall of Fame has honored two African-Americans since it’s inception in 1953. Aaron W. Solomon, Sr. and Robert Earle Jones Sr.
This month is also a time to celebrate and spotlight individuals currently who are supporting, promoting or growing North Carolina agriculture.
In honor of February being Black History Month, we want to recognize the first African American president of the N.C. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Dietrich Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick was the president of the NCASWCD from Jan. 2018 through Jan. 2019 and has quite the background in Soil and Water Conservation.
As someone that enjoys giving back to the community, Kilpatrick serves as Chairman of the Craven Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors, having served as a board member since 2004. He also served as Area 6 Chairman of the N.C. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. He has been a part of his local County Committee for the Farm Service Agency for nine years and is currently serving on the Voluntary Agriculture District Board, the Soil and Water Conservation District Local Advisory Board and the Cooperative Extension Advisory Board.
“I knew I wanted to hold a leadership position with something I had grown to love,” Kilpatrick said. “My time as president kept me very active and I learned a lot through this experience.”
Kilpatrick worked with the Commissioner and others in the Soil and Water Conservation districts throughout his term, but especially when it came to the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. To help with recovery across the state, Kilpatrick worked with many to ensure that the loss and devastation from Florence was handled. “I met with Commissioner Troxler a few times to plan out relief efforts and work towards restoring what was lost,” Kilpatrick said.
Kilpatrick regularly attended training at the UNC School of Government as he learned more about Soil and Water Conservation and became inspired. Through his background and training, he understood that he wanted to further his experience in the field and take on the position as president of the N.C. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
Kilpatrick is the third-generation owner and operator of his family farm, producing tobacco, corn and soybeans.