Story by Jay Stone
Photos by Logan Thomas
The Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) Young Farmers & Ranchers Competitive Events highlighted the 2022 YF&R Summer Leadership Conference, held July 13-16 on Jekyll Island. YF&R members competed for state titles in the Achievement Award, Excellence in Agriculture Award and Discussion Meet competitions. All three contests are open to GFB members between the ages of 18 and 35.
Congratulations to state winners Colt and LeAnna Hart, Brian Fleming and Willie Sizemore for taking top honors in the three contests. These state winners will represent Georgia in national competition at the 2023 American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in January in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
YF&R Achievement Award Finalists
Colt and LeAnna Hart (second and third from left) of Franklin County won the GFB Achievement Award, which recognizes young farmers who earn the majority of their income from production agriculture.
Colt is a fourth-generation farmer who farms approximately 1,000 acres. He maintains a herd of approximately 600 cattle and raises broilers and goats. He also grows millet, ryegrass, Bermudagrass and wheat while providing a chicken litter service for other farmers. The Hart farm has hosted the Franklin County Championship Rodeo for 29 years.
Colt is chairman of the Franklin County Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. He and LeAnna represent GFB’s 2nd District on the GFB YF&R Committee. Colt also serves as a volunteer firefighter. LeAnna homeschools the couple’s children and assists with day-to-day farm operations.
The Harts live in Royston and have five children: Jolee, Briar, Sage, Laila and Trace.
As the Achievement Award winners, the Harts received a John Deere ATV with trailer, $500 cash and a farm sign sponsored by Farm Credit Associations of Georgia (represented by Zach Murphy in photo) and Lasseter Tractor.
The other finalist families were Cason and Audrey Anderson (second and third from right) of Houston County and Ilana Richards of Morgan County (left). The runners-up each received $500 cash sponsored by Georgia Farm Bureau. The Andersons grow pecans and sweet corn, and Cason provides custom hire farm work. Richards grows vegetables, flowers and herbs.
YF&R Excellence in Agriculture Award Finalists
Brian Fleming (left) of Hart County won the GFB Excellence in Agriculture Award, which recognizes Farm Bureau members who are agricultural enthusiasts but do not earn a majority of their income as a farm owner.
Fleming, who has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Emmanuel College, works as operations manager for PTL Agriculture, the family farm owned by his father, Bobby. The Flemings produce soybeans, wheat, oats, milo and corn on approximately 1,000 acres, along with maintaining a small herd of brood cows and growing hay. Brian also runs a small seed-cleaning operation that serves area farmers.
Brian has chaired the Hart County Farm Bureau YF&R Committee since 2014 and grew the county’s YF&R program from just himself to its current membership of about 35. He served on the GFB YF&R Committee from 2019 to 2021 and regularly visits local schools to teach students about agriculture.
Brian and his wife, Nicole, live in Canon with their two children, Deklyn and Sloane.
As the state winner, Fleming received $500 from Georgia Farm Bureau and a John Deere ATV, sponsored by Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance and Lasseter Tractor.
The other finalists were Addie Tucker (center) of Wilcox County and Spencer Highsmith of Coffee County. The runners-up each received $500 cash sponsored by Georgia Farm Bureau. Tucker teaches agriculture at Wilcox County Middle/High School. Highsmith is the young farmer advisor at Coffee High School.
YF&R Discussion Meet finalists
Lee County Farm Bureau member Willie Sizemore (left) won the GFB Discussion Meet. As the state winner, Sizemore receives the top prize of $500 from Georgia Farm Bureau and a John Deere ATV, sponsored by Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance and Lasseter Tractor.
Sizemore, who graduated from the University of Georgia in 2021 with a degree in agricultural communication, is a student at the Mercer University Law School.
The other finalists were Ian Bennett (second from left) of Cook County, Josh Daniel (third from left) of Madison County and Whitney Murphy of Bulloch County. The runners-up received $500 cash sponsored by Georgia Farm Bureau.