Four Mississippi aerial applicators have been recognized for exemplary environmental stewardship. The selected pilots were ranked highest among their peers based on criteria established through the Applicators Conserving the Environment Pilot Program.

Pilots selected for recognition are Ellis Russell of Planters Air Service, Inc., in Alligator, Miss., Kelly Peeler of Producers Flying, Inc., in Yazoo City, Miss., Matt Brignac of Brignac Flying Service, LLC, in Columbus, Miss., and Jimmy Duke of Sunflower Flying Service in Sunflower, Miss.

Bob Provine, president of the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association, said “it was my pleasure to present the A.C.E. pilot awards at our annual convention. Many aerial applicators in Mississippi deserve this award for the outstanding work they do, and it was a pleasure to recognize these gentlemen who are truly setting the highest standards that are required to be eligible to receive this environmental stewardship award.”

The A.C.E. Pilot Program was developed to recognize top environmental stewards in the ag aviation industry and to encourage other pilots to become better stewards.

Organizations involved in developing and administering the program include Delta Council, Delta F.A.R.M., Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association, Mississippi Ag Industry Council, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Monsanto, Syngenta, USDA Agricultural Research Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

All licensed aerial applicators in Mississippi who were members of the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association in 2012 and had no proven drift violations within the past 24 months were eligible to participate in the A.C.E. Pilot Program. Each participant completed a questionnaire that documented his experience, track record and voluntary environmental stewardship efforts.

Provine presented each A.C.E. Pilot with a cash award for $1,500 at the recent Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association’s annual meeting at the IP Casino in Biloxi, Miss. Each pilot will also receive a plaque and a sign for his place of business, recognizing his achievement.

trey@deltawildlife.org