Mountaire Farms, the nation’s sixth-largest chicken processor, recently donated $10,000 to the Delaware Agricultural Museum in Dover to help overhaul the poultry exhibit and honor the late James H. Baxter Jr., a well-known farmer in Sussex County.
Baxter was a farmer in Stockley his entire life. During his career, he grew chickens for Mountaire Farms and served in a variety of capacities, including president of the Delaware Farm Bureau for 10 years, and as Sussex County recorder of deeds. He passed away in August at the age of 94.
“Jim Baxter was a great friend to agriculture and to the state of Delaware,” said Paul Downes, former president and CEO of Mountaire Farms, who arranged for the donation. “He was a man of faith, high integrity and well respected by all who knew him. He loved his family, his friends and his community. He had the best handshake in the state of Delaware."
The Delaware Agricultural Museum will use the Mountaire donation to implement phased upgrades to the current poultry exhibit. Once complete, the exhibit will include interactive kiosks, three-dimensional displays, and text and photographic panels focusing on the evolution and importance of the poultry industry in Delaware, past, present and future. Plans for modernizing the exhibit will also facilitate the implementation of educational programs for elementary school children centered on poultry farming. Museum Director Carolyn Claypoole is working closely with the Baxter family on a memorial tribute to James Baxter that will be featured prominently in the new exhibit.
“The museum is grateful for the very generous donation from Mountaire Farms for improvements to our poultry exhibit and for their recognition of James ‘Jim’ Baxter, one known to all in the agricultural community,” said Grier Stayton, president of the Delaware Agricultural Museum Board of Trustees. “This donation will assist us in our mission of educating the public of our agricultural heritage and explaining the vital role that the poultry industry has played in the lives of all Delawareans. It is the goal of the exhibit to underscore the important historical role of the poultry industry in Delaware, and we are excited to begin improvements through this generous gift.”
Baxter’s wife Ruth, to whom he was married to for 69 years, joined grandchildren Jay and Kristy at the museum recently for the check presentation. “Pop-pop would have been very proud,” said Jay Baxter.