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New Jersey Agricultural Society names new executive director

By
Gordon M. Hochberg, editor emeritus and vice president

The New Jersey Agricultural Society has announced the appointment of a new executive director, Brooke McMinn. Al Murray, who has served in that position since 2017, is stepping down.

"I've enjoyed my tenure with the New Jersey Agricultural Society and considered it a privilege to serve as the executive director," said Murray, a resident of Audubon, NJ. "However, I've reached a point in my life where I'd like to pursue new endeavors." Murray also serves as a policy consultant to the New Jersey Farm Bureau, and indicated that he intends to remain in that position.

Brooke McMinn
Brooke McMinn

But Murray is probably best known for his 33-year career with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, where he served in a number of roles, including assistant secretary of agriculture when he left the department at the end of 2016.

"Al came to us at a critical time and helped manage the society as we expanded our Farmers Against Hunger program to meet unprecedented demand due to the COVID pandemic. Al also was instrumental in graduating Class Ten of our leadership program and keeping Class Eleven operational during these difficult times," said society President Richard Norz of Norz Hill Farm in Hillsborough, NJ. "Al has an amazing network within the industry, and these contacts have been very beneficial to our operations. Even though Al will not be our executive director, we plan to continue to rely on his insight and expertise."

Al Murray
Al Murray

Murray first approached the society's Board of Trustees in September to inform them of his plans. He offered to stay on until the society appointed a new executive director. The board underwent a search process to select Murray's replacement.

"I am pleased to announce that Ms. Brooke McMinn has accepted our offer to be the new executive director of the New Jersey Agricultural Society, effective February 1," said Norz. "Brooke has a vast agricultural background and is familiar with New Jersey's agricultural industry. We expect the transition to be seamless."

McMinn, a Rutgers University graduate, most recently served as director of education and visitor experience at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Birmingham, Alabama. Before that, she worked for the Burlington County (NJ) Resource Conservation Center, where she provided general horticultural and agricultural advice to gardeners and growers. McMinn also was a research assistant in the Plant Biology Department at Rutgers University.

"As a former resident and extension agent in New Jersey, I am familiar with the New Jersey Agricultural Society, the organization's long history and its outstanding reputation," said McMinn. "I welcome the opportunity to build on the society's existing successes and work to meet the organization's objectives of creating an understanding of, and educating the public on, the importance of agriculture."

Founded in 1781, the New Jersey Agricultural Society is one of the nation's oldest organizations, whose purpose is to educate and promote New Jersey's agricultural industry to the public. The society is a non-profit organization and sponsors three programs: Farmers Against Hunger, Learning Through Gardening, and the New Jersey Agricultural Leadership Development Program.

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