2007 Distinguished Service Award Recipients
Stephen V. Lee IIISteve Lee is a New Jersey farmer who is a leader in both his industry and community at the local, state and national levels.
Just mention cranberries in the Garden State and one of the names that immediately come to mind is Lee Brothers, Inc. Stephen’s family built the first cranberry bogs in the Chatsworth area of southern Burlington County which dates back to his great-great grandfather’s era of 1868. Stephen and his brother Abbott continue the family tradition as partners in Lee Brothers, Inc., an 1800-acre cranberry and blueberry farm in the heart of the Pinelands.
Stephen is a Rutgers University graduate with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He also served in the New Jersey Air National Guard and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Even though Stephen’s a committed cranberry grower his leadership presents opportunities for him to wear several hats. He is active with the New Jersey Agricultural Society. He’s been a tireless advocate for Pinelands farmers with more than two decades of membership on the Pinelands Commission. He has served 16 years on the Board of Trustees of Burlington County Community College, is past-president of the American Cranberry Growers Association, and Director of Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.
The Lee’s market their cranberries through Ocean Spray, a cranberry grower only, stock-owned cooperative. Thus, the growers in effect are Ocean Spray. During a critical period of over-supply to the company, Stephen assisted in downsizing and restructuring the Ocean Spray Board to include farm members which saved the company from being sold and reversed the declining income to farmer members.
Stephen and his wife Mary Ann have three children and four grandchildren.
Stephen says, he’s proud of the contribution that his family has made to New Jersey Agriculture but he’s most proud of his long commitment to protecting the interest of the agricultural community through his efforts on the New Jersey Pinelands Commission.