December 8, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jennifer Whittaker, firstname.lastname@example.org
GEORGIA FARM BUREAU PRESENTS STATE AWARDS
Outstanding county programs, young farmers recognized
JEKYLL ISLAND –The Georgia Farm Bureau Federation recognized the best of the organization’s volunteers and county chapters during an awards program held Dec. 7 at the GFB 77th annual convention on Jekyll Island. The state award winners were honored for the programs they conducted this past year to promote agriculture.
“One of the highlights of Georgia Farm Bureau’s annual convention is recognizing our individual and county award winners. Our county Farm Bureau volunteers have worked hard this year to educate their communities about Georgia agriculture by visiting schools to conduct Ag in the Classroom activities, holding farm tours and legislative events to highlight the contribution agriculture makes to their communities and Georgia’s economy,” GFB President Zippy Duvall said. “I offer my sincere gratitude to all of our county volunteers for generously giving of their time to advocate for Georgia agriculture.”
Georgia Farm Bureau named a McKemie Award winner - the highest honor given to a county in recognition of its overall member programs - from each of its three membership categories. Bacon County Farm Bureau, whose president is David Lee, received the McKemie Award for the 0 to 1,299-member division. Cook County Farm Bureau, whose president is Derry Bennett, won the McKemie Award for the 1,300 to 2,179-member division. Newton County Farm Bureau, whose president is Charles Berry, received the award in the 2,180 plus-member division. The McKemie Award is a memorial to one of the organization’s former presidents, W.J. McKemie.
Finalists in the McKemie competition, listed in alphabetical order, for the 0 to 1,299-member division were: Crawford, Hancock, Jasper, Macon, Screven, Turner, Upson and Wilcox counties. Finalists for the 1,300 to 2,179-member division were: Franklin, Greene, Harris, Monroe, Pike, Polk, Toombs, Troup and Washington counties. Finalists in the 2,180 plus-member division were: Carroll, Cherokee, Elbert, Habersham, Henry, Jackson, Madison, Stephens and Walker counties.
Drew and Shelly Echols of Hall County were named the GFB Young Farmer Achievement winners. The Echolses grow fresh fruit and vegetables with Drew’s grandfather, Jimmy; father, Jarl; and uncle Judah at Jaemor Farms. The family sells their produce at the original Jaemor Farm Market in Alto and at the new Jaemor Market in Commerce. Drew has been instrumental in starting and expanding agritourism activities Jaemor Farm offers at its Alto location, such as the corn maze and farm tours. Drew and Shelly served on the GFB Young Farmer Committee in 2005 and 2006. Drew is a Hall County Farm Bureau director and served as HCFB president from 2009-2013. The Echolses have a daughter, Chloe, and son, Cohen.
The Echolses received a $500 cash prize, courtesy of Georgia Farm Bureau, and an expense-paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention Jan. 10-12 in San Diego, Calif., to compete for national honors. They also received a Polaris rough-terrain-vehicle, courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance.
The finalists in the GFB Young Farmer Achievement Contest were Matt and Melissa Bottoms of Pike County and Chris and Lori Rogers of Jefferson County. The Bottoms family grows fruit-bearing vines, bushes and trees (muscadines, blackberry, blueberry, fig, raspberry, apple, peach and plum) that are sold through Bottoms Nursery. The Bottomses also raise tomatoes, soybeans and wheat. The Rogerses grow corn, peanuts, soybeans, wheat and cotton and offer agritourism activities and fresh produce at their Sunny Day Farms roadside market north of Louisville. The two finalist couples each received a $500 cash award, courtesy of GFB.
Brittany Ivey of Stephens County won the Young Farmer Discussion Meet and will enjoy an expense-paid trip to the AFBF Convention in San Diego to compete for national honors, courtesy of GFB. Finalists included Heather Brannen of Bulloch County, Cleve Jackson of Floyd County and Constance Reid of Greene County.
During the discussion meet, the contestants discussed how U.S. policy should balance concerns about food insecurity against concerns regarding the safety and environmental impact of modern ag technologies along with the role farmers should have in discussing these issues with society and lawmakers.
Ivey also received a $500 cash award, courtesy of Georgia Farm Bureau, and a Polaris all-terrain-vehicle courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance. The three finalists each received a $350 cash award from SunTrust Bank.
Trisha Lastly of Madison County won the Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award. GFB presents this award to recognize young farmers who earn the majority of their income from something other than production agriculture. Lastly teaches agriculture at Madison County High School. She is a member of the Madison County Cattlemen’s Association and the Madison County Georgia Young Farmers Chapter.
Lastly won $4,000, courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance, and an expense-paid trip to the AFBF Convention in San Diego to compete for national honors, courtesy of GFB.
The other finalists for the Excellence in Agriculture Award were Iris Peeler Barham of Floyd County and Justin Shealey of Cook County. Barham is the dairy supervisor in Berry College’s agricultural operations department. Shealey is the Echols County Extension Coordinator for Agriculture and grows cotton, wheat and Angus beef cattle on 110 acres. The finalists each received a $500 cash award courtesy of AgSouth Farm Credit.
Georgia Farm Bureau presented a Membership Excellence Award to a county from each of its three membership categories in recognition of the counties’ membership campaigns that resulted in membership growth. Turner County Farm Bureau, whose president is Ross Kendrick, received the GFB Membership Award for the 0 to 1,299-member division. Franklin County Farm Bureau, whose president is Michael Thomason, won the award for the 1,300 to 2,179-member division. Newton County Farm Bureau, whose president is Charles Berry, received the award in the 2,180 plus-member division.
Other state awards presented included: Outstanding Promotion & Education Award received by Newton County Farm Bureau; Outstanding Women’s Leadership Committee Award received by Bacon County Farm Bureau; Outstanding Legislative Committee Award received by Henry County Farm Bureau; and Outstanding Young Farmer Committee Award received by Madison County Farm Bureau.
Katy Seagraves, Clarke County Farm Bureau office manager, received the organization’s Outstanding Office Manager Award. She was recognized for her work to promote agriculture and Farm Bureau in her local community. Seagraves has been employed with Clarke County Farm Bureau since 2005.
Carmen Power, a science teacher in Cherokee County, received GFB’s Georgia Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Educator Award. Power, who teaches fourth and fifth-graders at Free Home Elementary School in Canton, was recognized for incorporating information and activities in her classroom curriculum that teach her students about agriculture and how it impacts their daily lives. She received a $500 award and an expense-paid trip to the National Ag in the Classroom Conference in Louisville, Ky., in June 2015.
Founded in 1937, the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization. The organization has 158 county chapters. Its volunteer members actively participate in local, district and state activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors. GFB also has 20 commodity advisory committees that give the organization input on issues pertinent to the major commodities grown in Georgia.
CUTLINE TO ACCOMPANY PHOTO: The Georgia Farm Bureau Federation honored county Farm Bureaus for promoting agriculture and individual members for personal achievement during the organization’s 77th annual convention. Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall (standing, back row, far right) congratulates the 2014 GFB award recipients (front row seated, L-R): GFB Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award winner Trisha Lastly of Madison County; GFB Young Farmer Discussion Meet Award winner Brittany Ivey of Stephens County; Sandi Mitcham accepting the GFB Outstanding Promotion & Education Committee Award on behalf of Newton County; Lori Johnson accepting the GFB Outstanding Women’s Leadership Committee Award on behalf of Bacon County; GFB Young Farmer Achievement Award winners Shelly, Cohen, Drew and Chloe Echols of Hall County and (back row, from left) Clay Wilson accepting the GFB Outstanding Young Farmer Committee Award on behalf of Madison County Farm Bureau; Andy Garland accepting the GFB Outstanding Legislative Committee Award on behalf of Henry County Farm Bureau; Ross Kendrick accepting the GFB Membership Excellence Award for the 0 to 1,299 membership division on behalf of Turner County Farm Bureau; David Lee accepting the GFB McKemie Award for the 0 to 1,299 membership division on behalf of Bacon County Farm Bureau; Derry Bennett accepting the GFB McKemie Award for the 1,300 to 2,179 membership division on behalf of Cook County Farm Bureau; Michael Thomason accepting the GFB Membership Excellence Award for the 1,300 to 2,179 membership division on behalf of Franklin County Farm Bureau and Charles Berry accepting the GFB McKemie Award and the GFB Membership Excellence Award for the 2,180-plus member division on behalf of Newton County Farm Bureau.