Mr. Corris Jenkins and Mrs. Francis Bell in Martin County
A Leader in Conservation
From the Battlefield to the Streets of DC to Farming...A True Leader
Mr. Corris Jenkins
It can be tough for anyone to examine their life and make a drastic switch. However, when you have a calling to follow a new path, hard work and determination will make it a success.
Two stellar examples of successfully changing paths can be seen in two different poultry producers in Martin County: Mr. Corris Jenkins and Mrs. Francis Bell. Both were on very different career paths, but with faith, determination and hard work both have become well respected in their industry.
Corris Jenkins, though raised on a farm, started working as a school mentor in his local school district, but in 2004 he had the opportunity to do something different.
“This farm was for sale and I wanted to take it and do something with it,” said Corris.
“I knew that this poultry operation had been shut down twice for underperforming, but I didn’t care about what it was, I wanted to do something with it.”
He bought the operation, and between 2004 and 2006 he continued to work in the schools, farm and raise chickens.
“I had no equipment when I started other than a 1979 Chevrolet Truck,” said Corris. “I didn’t have a tractor, and didn’t know anything about the chicken business -- or cleaning out a poultry house. There were big litter piles behind both houses and both houses needed upgrades. I didn’t know about the rules or regulations, but none of that stopped me.”
His determination led to success. To move forward, he worked hard. Corris worked with the integrator to learn about the rules and regulations for the business, and the upgrades that needed to be made to the houses. He also worked with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Martin County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
“I had gone to Farm Service Agency for loans and they told me about NRCS and the District,” said Corris. “And they’ve treated me well.”
With the help of NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Corris was able to develop a conservation plan and install a dry waste storage facility, which prevents nutrients and pathogens from entering surface water.
“After I made changes, upgrades and got technical assistance, my first flock was the largest ever produced on the operation,” said Corris. “My next flock made me Purdue’s number one producer, and I’ve done it five or six times since then.”
“It is hard work, but it is worth it if you don’t mind the work,” said Corris.
Mrs. Francis Bell, a poultry producer in Martin County was working in a sewing factory.
“I knew how to punch a clock, but I didn’t know anything about the poultry business,” said Francis.
In the late 1980s, Francis’ husband Sterling came to her with an interesting proposition that led her away from the dreaded “time clock” and towards becoming a respected poultry producer.
“We bought this farm, and my husband said that he would remodel the one chicken house on the farm if I would agree to run the farm,” said Francis. “I said go ahead and remodel it.”
Mrs. and Mr. Bell
Francis did not let the prospects of venturing into the poultry business stand in her way. “I had no fear at all getting into this. I had a service man that gave me advice and a really good neighbor who showed me what to do,” said Francis. “And my neighbor only had to tell me once what to do, and before long I was producing more than him.”
Working with people in the poultry industry was not the only resource she sought out for advice. Francis also worked with her local NRCS field office and the Martin County SWCD. Through technical assistance from NRCS and participating in Ag-Cost Share through the SWCD, Francis was able to install a dry waste storage facility and a composter.
When asked about working with the local USDA Field Office and the Martin SWCD, she quickly stated, “I would tell, and recommend them to, everyone–they’ve always come through for me.”
Both Mr. Corris Jenkins and Mrs. Francis Bell are stellar examples of what you can accomplish when you’ve set your goals, have determination and are not afraid of following a new path.