Farmer, hunter, and Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society president Brian Athearn is the 2021 Spirit of the Vineyard award recipient.
The award is given each year to someone who has served on at least one Vineyard nonprofit, and whose work has made a difference.
“The criteria for selection include selflessness, the range and depth of service performed, the length of volunteer service, and the effect on the quality of life of the individuals who received the benefit of his or her services,” a release states.
Among other things, the release cites Athearn’s leadership at the Ag Society, including rejuvenation of the 4-H program and horse council, the establishment of the deer program in conjunction with Island Grown Initiative, the goose program in conjunction with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and the Food Pantry donation drive.
“Known to officials in the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection as a ‘straight shooter,’ Brian was given a moose that had been killed off-Island,” a release states, “and he and the M.V. Hunt Club prepared and donated hundreds of pounds of moose meat to the Wampanoag Tribal Food Pantry — another first on the Island!”
The release quotes Athearn as saying,“Farming doesn’t end at the high tide mark, and we
wanted to solidify aquaculture as a predominant resource on the Island.” In cooperation with Dan Martino, the release also cites Athearn’s history-making establishment of the Martha’s Vineyard Farm Bureau.
“In addition to his work with the Ag Society,” the release states. “Brian has served the town
of West Tisbury on the committee on paths in that town, the planning committee for the new police station, the finance committee, the veterans committee, and the cemetery commission, and has served on the Martha’s Vineyard Derby Committee. Following in his uncle’s footsteps as veterans’ graves officer, Brian, his sons, and others go to the graves of all [West Tisbury] veterans each Memorial Day to pay their respects and plant a flag. As the owner of MV Tech, Inc., Brian has donated both services and computer equipment to many island nonprofit organizations.”
On Tuesday, in a text message to The Times, Athearn wrote, “To be frank, it feels too soon to receive this. I have much more to accomplish and much more to do here. None of which I could have done without the help of my friends, family, and community. I accept this award for all of them.”
Athearn’s award ceremony is slated for August 22 at 10 am at the Agricultural Fair.