Long Island Farm Bureau awards agricultural honors at gala

The Long Island Farm Bureau issued awards to the late Rodney Anderson and to Dr. Mark Bridgen of Cornell University at its 102nd Annual awards gala Friday at Polish Hall in Riverhead. 

It also issued a special award to longtime State Assemblyman Fred Thiele of Sag Harbor, who is not seeking reelection this year. 

Rodney Anderson was posthumously selected to receive the Amherst Davis Memorial Farmer Citizen of the Year Award. It was awarded to him “in recognition of his lifelong dedication to the agricultural industry and commitment to fostering the next generation of young people in farming through his work with the Young Farmers program through the Farm Bureau,” according to the Farm Bureau press release. 

Mr. Anderson’s parents, Richard and Faye, accepted the award for him Friday. 

Mr. Anderson, was born April 17, 1971 and died at the age of 51 in 2022.

“His passing has left a seat at the Farm Bureau and he is greatly missed by his family, friends and fellow farmers,” the LIFB said in a press release. 

Rodney was a member of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, the Riverhead Town Farmland Preservation Committee, the Long Island Farm Bureau board of directors, the American Conifer Society, the National Young Farmer Committee for American Farm Bureau and the New York Farm Bureau state board of directors. He also belonged to St. Isidore R.C. Church in Riverhead.

Dr. Mark Bridgen was awarded the Long Island Farm Bureau Citizen of the Year award. This award is given to “a person recognized as a positive force in the industry with a proven record of leadership, and outstanding service to farmers and the community.”

Dr. Bridgen is a Professor of Horticulture, Plant Breeding & Genetics at Cornell University. For the past 21 years, he has served as Director of the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead.

While director, he guided the center through its 100th anniversary and has ensured its long-term success by establishing four permanent endowments, the press release said.  

Dr. Bridgen’s areas of expertise include plant breeding, ornamental horticulture, plant propagation, herbaceous ornamental plants, and plant tissue culture and micropropagation. 

 The special award presented to Assemblyman Fred Thiele was called the a “Lifetime Impact Award.” It was given in respect for his years of dedication and service to farming, fishing and aquaculture industries on Long Island and in New York State. 

Assemblyman Thiele, 71, who has spent 19 years in the state assembly, and more than 45 years in government, opted not to seek re-election this year.

Since being elected to the state assembly, Mr. Thiele authored the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund Act, which authorized the five East End towns to enact a 2% real estate transfer tax for use in land preservation and water quality protection. That tax has generated more than $1.4 billion in revenue since it took effect 20 years ago, according to Mr. Thiele, who has said 10,000 acres of sensitive land have been preserved through the program.