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OCEAN CITY - The Carroll County Farm Bureau and its Women's Group were named best in Maryland at the organization's annual meeting here.

The Farm Bureau received the "Award of Excellence" for overall achievement in the past year.

"In other words, they are the best," said John F. Butler, field services director for the Maryland Farm Bureau.

The Carroll Women's Group was named "Outstanding County Farm Bureau Women's Group" for its activities.

For the overall award, the Carroll bureau competed with five other counties, Butler said.

Each county had received "Gold Star" awards in eight program areas, and Carroll was selected by four judges for overall excellence, he said.

Frederick and Anne Arundel counties have dominated the competition in recent years, with Frederick winning the award in 1989.

Harford, Queen Anne's and Worcester counties also competed for the award this year.

Carroll President C. William Knill of Mount Airy said hard work by all members of the bureau, especially leaders in the eight program areas, made the win possible.

"It shows a lot of work in all areas," he said.

The award was announced at a banquet last night during the annual Farm Bureau meeting at the Sheraton Ocean City Resort and Conference Center.

Farm Bureau members from throughout the state, including about 40 from Carroll, attended the three-day meeting, which included business sessions and a speech by Maryland Agriculture Secretary Wayne A. Cawley Jr.

The greatest strength of Carroll's Farm Bureau is the cooperation Knill receives from members and the group's teamwork, Butler said.

Carroll, with 1,298 members, has the largest membership of any Farm Bureau in the state.

The achievements of the Women's Group also played an integral part in the overall win, Butler said.

The eight program areas in which Carroll excelled were: membership, public affairs, national affairs, discussion groups, information, women, young farmers and service to members.

The Farm Bureau received a silver bowl inscribed with its name.

The Women's Group received a $25 prize for its win, which was announced Monday at the Farm Bureau women's meeting.

The group competed with all 23 counties in the state for the honor, Butler said.

The group's strengths were its educational programs, including "Ag in the Classroom" and "Ag Week at the Mall," he said.

Carroll's group succeeded in involving all Farm Bureau members in its programs, not just women, Butler said.

Holly Fleming of Hampstead, Women's Group chairwoman for the last 2 years, said, "It's confirmation we've been doing a good job. We're recognized as a leader."

She said she's most proud of the group's work to promote agriculture in education.

"The agriculture community reaps benefits from that work that we're not aware of. We teach children and consumers," she said.

Margaret Schneider of Sykesville, elected in October as chairwoman of the Women's Group, said the group also sponsors blood drives twice a year and visits Annapolis to lobby state legislators.

"We try to be interested in what's going on in the Legislature and the people that affect us," she said.

Wilma Mallow of Allegany County, state women's chairwoman, praised Carroll's group.

"We're just real proud of them. We had to have one winner, and they were the best," she said.

Anne Arundel County won the Women's Group award last year.

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