Ag News

Ropers finish in top 10 for AFBF Award

by Jay Stone

Posted on Feb 02, 2024 at 6:47 AM

Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Cole and Nicole Roper, Andy Paul, and David and Lindsey Morgan put Georgia Farm Bureau’s (GFB) best foot forward in national competitions during the American Farm Bureau Convention in Salt Lake City.

“Cole and Nicole, Andy, and David and Lindsey set great examples for what we want our next generation of leaders to be,” said GFB President Tom McCall. “We’re proud of them for their outstanding representation of Georgia Farm Bureau, and I look forward to seeing them in leadership positions whether with GFB or local and state government using the skills they have learned through our Young Farmers & Ranchers program.”

The Ropers, from Franklin County, finished in the top 10 for the AFBF Excellence in Agriculture Award, given to recognize young farmers and ranchers who make most of their income from something other than self-owned production agriculture. Cole is a broiler supervisor for Fieldale Farms; Nicole is an ag teacher. Together they operate Cole’ Sweet Corn, selling their corn and beef to drive-up customers.

“Our big message [in our presentation to the judges] was the impact. No matter what we’re doing, whether it’s on our farm, or me in the classroom, or with our daughter, being able to leave that lasting impact [about agriculture] on the next generation is what we wanted to get across, no matter what we do,” Nicole said.

Cole added, “We are super proud to be able to represent not only our county, but our state as well. We’ve practiced hard and we’ve put in a lot of time and effort. We just left it all on the table here.”

The Ropers, who won the GFB YF&R Excellence in Agriculture Award last July, were one of 37 state winners who gave presentations before judges on Jan. 20. The top 10 made additional presentations on Jan. 21. The top 10 were recognized during the AFBF closing general session on Jan. 22, when national winner Justin Hargrove of Tennessee was announced.

Oglethorpe County Farm Bureau member Paul, a public relations representative with Georgia EMC, advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the AFBF Discussion Meet, where groups of four or five contestants talk over issues facing agriculture and potential solutions. The first two rounds on Jan. 20 centered on diversity and inclusion in agriculture and sustainability in farming.  The Sweet 16 round on Jan. 21 focused on young farmers’ access to capital.

“Everybody was so passionate, and everybody was so talented,” said Paul. “The thing about it was, we sit down at the table, we do our opening statements and then it’s time to discuss it for 25 minutes, and everybody cares about the agriculture industry, and I think that’s really cool to be a part of that.”

Matthew McClanahan of Tennessee won the national competition.

The Morgans, from Pierce County, gave their presentation on Jan. 20 for the AFBF Achievement Award, which recognizes young farmers and ranchers who earn most of their income from production agriculture.

Lindsey said she would recommend young farmers and ranchers try their hand in the Farm Bureau competitions.

“What do you have to lose?” Lindsey said. “You have nothing to lose to sign up and at least try. You know, the younger you start, you can kind of build your resume up and get more experience.”

The benefits, David said, make the effort worthwhile.

“We got to further our networking with people, not just in our state, but nationwide,” David said. “It was good to see everybody that had an operation and see things they do on their operations. Maybe it’s something we can bring back and utilize on our farm.”

The Morgans run a diversified operation. David is a third-generation farmer who grows cotton, peanuts, vegetables and a variety of grains as cover crops. He also owns timber land and provides land-clearing services. Lindsey teaches social studies at Ware County High School.

Daniel and Megan Roberts of Minnesota won the Achievement Award.

Young farmers and ranchers interested in competing in 2024 should contact their county Farm Bureau office manager or district federation manager for more information. Entries will be accepted beginning in April.

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