N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--May 1998

New Farm Manager No Stranger to the Farm

TILLERY - The three most important things in Phillip Sykes’ life are farming, family and fishing - but not necessarily in that order.

As the new farm manager of the Caledonia prison work farm, farming definitely takes up most of his time, but Sykes is sure to make time for his constantly-expanding family and for chasing after that prize-winning bass.

A native of Halifax County, Sykes was promoted to farm manager in March. Although new to the farm manager position, Sykes is not new to farming. In fact, Sykes was born on a farm, and before coming to work for the Department of Correction a little more than a year ago, worked his own farm for 21 years.

Sykes’ hands-on farming experience prepared him well for his new position as manager of the 7,300-acre prison work farm. From growing broccoli and breeding cattle to repairing worn-out tractors and implementing inventory control systems, Sykes knows it all.

"Phillip Sykes brings a wealth of knowledge to the department with his strong background in farming," Correction Secretary Mack Jarvis said. "He’ll serve the state and the department well in his new position."

Sykes received his degree in Agricultural Business from Pitt Community College and worked for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture in Morganton for three years before returning to Halifax County to help out on his father’s farm.

"I had only planned to help him finish out the year, but then one year turned into 21," he said.

As much as Sykes enjoyed working on his farm, he decided to give it all up a little more than a year ago, because he could no longer compete with the larger farms. However, it wasn’t long before he was back in the farming business. Months after accepting a job as warehouse supervisor at Caledonia, Sykes was promoted to assistant superintendent, and soon thereafter, secured the farm manager position.

"This is a job people dream about. It’s been a challenge, but I’m enjoying it," he said. "I’ve got some good people on the farm working with me and some fine people in Raleigh to work with." When he’s not farming, Sykes can usually be found bass fishing with his son, Phillip, who is a senior at Enfield High School. The two regularly compete in fishing tournaments across the state, often finishing in the top ten.

Between fishing tournaments, the entire family including Sykes’ wife, Wanda, and his daughter, Laura Ashley, 12, spend their weekends renovating a historic house built in the early 1800s which they plan to use as a vacation home.

In addition to their own two children, the Sykes have also served as parents to numerous children from around the world through the foreign exchange program. Students from Japan, Costa Rico and the Netherlands have all become members of the Sykes family during year-long stays in the United States.

"First there’s my family, then comes fishing," Sykes said with a sly smile. "Fishing is second - and third, and fourth...."

I guess that makes farming a close fifth. u

NC DOC Correction News- May 1998
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