Did you know that there's a Maryland Senator that has hands-on experience working in the woods?
Updated: May 23
Meet Maryland Senator Jack Bailey
Family, farm, forest…for Senator Jack Bailey, these three things are at the center of it all and have made him who he is today. His connection to the land and our state's natural resources has been a lifetime in the making. It started with his grandparents and their farm on the water in Southern Maryland and was followed by his parents raising him on a 120-acre farm. "It was just how we grew up," he says.
From the crops, to horses, to time spent with his grandfather and father hunting and fishing, farm and forest land shaped Bailey's formative years and his conservationist mindset. He eventually purchased the 60-acre farm that adjoins his parents', making the family-farm connection even stronger by building the next generation of stewards and conservationists with his children.
His goal of sharing these natural resource wonders with his son and daughter and walking in the woods with them, comes as no surprise when considering how he grew up. The senator's father was an agronomist who went to the University of Maryland, while his mother was a 4H agent in Cecil County. Being connected to the soil beneath our feet and the farms and forest that spring from it is just part of the Bailey DNA.
Whether it was growing everything from Christmas trees to corn to strawberries, helping on his grandparents' tobacco farm, or crabbing and fishing, Bailey had an instant love and passion for the outdoors and natural resources in his early years. "As soon as he was old enough," he began working for St. Mary's County forester John Houser, marking timber and learning about the sustainable management of forests through timber harvest.
"I felt at home" working in forestry, says Bailey, thoroughly enjoying the work of woodland management and seeing all the different parts of Maryland while meeting the hardworking loggers, foresters, and landowners across the varied terrain of the state. Working with property owners to improve their woodlands through a harvest and showing value to proper forest management was one of many rewarding parts of the senator's time in forestry. Helping a farmer with forest land know that they can have a harvest and that letting trees grow is "like having money in the bank" just re-enforced the idea of sustainable, regenerative land management and conservation for the future senator.
There were bigger things ahead for Bailey to make an even broader impact on our natural resources and protecting and conserving those resources. Beginning in 1987, the Department of Natural Resources Police became his home for 30 years, where he rose from cadet to supervisor of the Covert Operations Unit in 2007. During his time there, Bailey led game warden training for Maryland, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Virginia wardens. He trained his fellow officers in waterfowl ID and shared his insider tip of carrying the beans of the Kentucky coffeetree for good luck. Wouldn't you know it, he and his father — with coffeetree beans in their pockets — went on a turkey hunt, and both came home with a turkey.
Extending beyond the Natural Resources Police, that education and advocacy for protecting our land and its resources continued through his efforts with the International Conservation Chiefs Academy starting in 2017. "We all have a goal of protecting these resources and passing them on to the next generation," says Bailey. He passes those lessons on to natural resource officers from across the globe through the academy, working to educate and direct the funding and required action for depleted or endangered resources in the right way.
Bailey's advocacy work involves working with Hunters of MD and Maryland Legislative's Sportsmen Caucus much closer to home. He has been a member of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) since 2019, advocating for farmers and agriculture. Going from the natural resources realm to the General Assembly, Officer Bailey became Senator Bailey, representing District 29 for Calvert & St. Mary's Counties.
As the only senator with a hunting license out of 47, he knows it is essential for him to share his experiences and exposure to natural resources. It is the idea of conservation vs. preservation, and Senator Bailey is always seeking to help other legislators understand the recreational benefits of our land and the symbolic relationship hunters and outdoors people have with it. "These people are the true stewards of our natural resources, not the enemy," he says. That is what drove him to work to pass the bipartisan Right to Hunt & Fish Bill, a bill backed by the Maryland Forests Association.
Looking at the state seal of Maryland with a farmer and fisherman on the logo, Senator Bailey recognizes the need to use our resources wisely. His thoughts always come back to the land, even when buried in legislative paperwork. Managing forests to benefit landowners, our farms, and the Bay are always at the forefront of his mind.
"There is no doubt about it" that he thought about staying in the field of forestry, says Bailey. To this day, he continues to manage Quail Field Farm in Mechanicsville, using timber stand improvements to demonstrate woodlands' value to his son and daughter. It's about "what's best for the trees," says Bailey, adding that our forests should be seen as a resource and recreational opportunity for future generations.
Senator Bailey shown pictured with his father, son, and John Houser at his family farm in Mechanicsville.
Photo Credit: EDWIN REMSBERG PHOTOGRAPHS
Project Support: RURAL MARYLAND COUNCIL
Want to learn more about the Senator? He sat down for an interview with Candra Burns from the Talking Forests Podcast. CLICK HERE to listen to Episode 70- Maryland Forests Association Faces of Forestry: Senator Bailey. Find out what makes him #forestproud!
LINKS TO LEARN MORE:
Improving Maryland Together-Senator Jack Bailey
Natural Resources- Fishing and Hunting Rights SB318
Hunters of Maryland
Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission
SMADC- Farms in Focus, Forestry Edition