Get to Know MDA’s 2020 Employee of the Year – Mary Darling
We sat down with Mary Darling, the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA’s) 2020 Employee of the Year, to chat about her experience serving the department and the State of Maryland for the past two decades.
What is your current job role at MDA?
Mary: “I serve as MDA’s Human Resources Deputy Director. I work in close cooperation with the HR Director to plan, direct, supervise, and coordinate the work activities of recruitment and selection, employee relations, reclassifications, compensation, training, employment services and management of positions, and data in the Statewide Personnel System (SPS).”
How long have you been with the department?
Mary: “I have been with the department for 22 years. I started working at MDA in 1999.
A little background, I am an Upstate New York farm girl. I grew up on a 300-acre dairy farm with a herd of purebred Holsteins. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Rural Sociology, I began my government career in 1980 with the New York State Department of Labor developing agricultural employment opportunities and placing workers in available jobs, working closely with fruit and vegetable growers who employed migrant and offshore labor. Following other jobs in state government, I moved to Maryland and was very happy to find my way back to my agricultural roots at MDA. I’ve always had a deep interest in the ‘people’ side of agriculture.”
What’s the best part about working for MDA?
Mary: “Working with so many committed, dedicated employees who are also experts in their fields — they are inspiring and I learn something new every day! On the Human Resources side, the best days are when I can provide clarity to rules and regulations and offer positive solutions to an employee’s issue — making their day a little bit better.”
What’s your favorite memory of MDA?
Mary: “Our employee chicken barbecues and crab feasts of years past. They were a lot of work, but so much fun and a true team effort.”
In a few words, how would you describe MDA?
Mary: “Reputable, responsive, and not your “typical” state agency.”
What was your dream job as a kid?
Mary: “Not sure I had one! I entered college thinking I was going to be a veterinary technician. I started gravitating away from the technical courses and became more interested in the social and economic issues of rural life.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
Mary: “I enjoy getting away from my home in the suburbs to visit area parks, where I walk and take nature photos.”
Advice to any newbies at MDA or future MDA employees?
Mary: “Find a job you love, and pay close attention to your mentors and role models. You may not realize it at first, but these individuals will have a lasting positive impact on your career.”
Fun fact about yourself? (Something your coworkers might not know about you)
Mary: “I love colored glass and used to make stained glass art pieces.”
What’s your favorite quote?
“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.” – Alice Walker