Special to the Journal
MACON, Ga. – The Georgia Farm Bureau Federation recognized the best of the organization’s volunteers and county chapters during an awards program held Dec. 8 at the GFB 76th annual convention on Jekyll Island. The state award winners were honored for the programs they conducted this past year to promote agriculture.
“Recognizing our individual and county award winners is a highlight of our convention for me each year. Our county Farm Bureau volunteers have worked hard to educate their communities about Georgia agriculture by hosting farm tours, legislative events, and Ag in the Classroom activities to highlight the contribution farming makes to Georgia’s economy and in their communities,” GFB President Zippy Duvall said. “I’d like to thank all of our volunteers for 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. Screven County Farm Bureau, whose president is Joe Boddiford, received the McKemie Award for the 0 to 1,330-member division. Cook County Farm Bureau, whose president is Derry Bennett, won the McKemie Award for the 1,331 to 2,230-member division. Newton County Farm Bureau, whose president is Keith Mitcham, received the award in the 2,231plus-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 1,330-member division were: Bacon, Crawford, Jasper, Macon, Upson and Wilcox counties. Finalists for the 1,331 to 2,230-member division were: Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Greene, Jeff Davis, Monroe, Pike, Polk, and Tift counties. Finalists in the 2,231plus-member division were: Cherokee, Coffee, Colquitt, Elbert, Habersham, Henry, McDuffie, Madison, Stephens and White counties.
James and Brooke Hitchcock of Washington County were named the GFB Young Farmer Achievement winners. The Hitchcocks grow corn, peanuts, soybeans and hay on 1,800 acres and have a herd of more than 300 cattle. They farm with James’ father, James Sr., his brother Jonathan and sister Jennifer. James Jr. served on the GFB Young Farmer Committee in 2005 and 2006 and received the Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer from the Georgia Peanut Commission earlier this year. The Hitchcocks live in Tennille with their daughter Moriah and son J.W.
The Hitchcocks received a $500 cash prize, courtesy of Georgia Farm Bureau, and an Arctic Cat 500 all-terrain-vehicle, courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance, for being named the state winner. They also won an expense-paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention Jan. 12-15 in San Antonio, Texas, to compete for national honors.
The finalists in the GFB Young Farmer Achievement Contest were Russ and Mandy Moon of Madison County and Charlie and Nancie Sanders of Greene County. The Moons raise broilers and operate a pick-your-own strawberry farm, and Russ farms in partnership with his father, Dennis, to grow soybeans, wheat and canola. The Sanderses are active partners in their family dairy farm for which Charlie is the calf and heifer manager. The two finalist couples each received a $500 cash award, courtesy of GFB.
Trisha Lastly of Madison County won the Young Farmer Discussion Meet and will enjoy an expense-paid trip to the AFBF Convention in San Antonio to compete for national honors. Finalists included Kyle Dekle of Habersham County, Ali Merk of Jackson County and Constance Reid of Greene County.
During the discussion meet, the contestants discussed how young farmers can be encouraged to be involved with Farm Bureau.
Lastly received a $500 cash award, courtesy of Georgia Farm Bureau, and an Arctic Cat 500 all-terrain-vehicle courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance. The three finalists each received a $350 cash award from SunTrust Bank.
Clay Talton of Elbert County won the Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award. GFB presented this award for the first time this year to recognize young farmers who earn the majority of their income from something other than production agriculture. Talton is the Elbert County Extension Coordinator and is involved with every facet of agriculture in the county. Talton won $4,000, courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance, and an expense-paid trip to the AFBF Convention in San Antonio to compete for national honors.
The finalists for the Excellence in Agriculture Award were Lauren Boykin of Screven County and Paul Harris of Pierce County. Boykin is the Screven County Extension Agent for 4-H and Youth. Harris works as a soil conservation technician with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. 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. Terrell County Farm Bureau, whose president is Kirk Law, received the GFB Membership Award for the 0 to 1,330-member division. Cook County Farm Bureau, whose president is Derry Bennett, won the award for the 1,331 to 2,230-member division. Henry County Farm Bureau, whose president is Ross McQueen, received the award in the 2,231plus-member division.
Other state awards presented included: Outstanding Promotion & Education Award received by Chattooga County Farm Bureau; Outstanding Women’s Leadership Committee Award received by Bacon County Farm Bureau; Outstanding Legislative Award received by Cherokee County Farm Bureau; and Outstanding Young Farmer Committee Award received by Newton County Farm Bureau.
Rebecca Rolling, Pike 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. Rolling has been employed with Pike County Farm Bureau for 16 years. She and her husband, Dennis, have five children and six grandchildren.
>Crawford County Farm Bureau member Dennis Peavy received GFB’s Georgia Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Educator Award. Peavy, a fourth-grade gifted teacher at Lake Joy Elementary School in Warner Robins, was recognized for incorporating information and activities in his classroom curriculum that teaches his students about agriculture and how it impacts their daily lives. He received a $500 award and an expense-paid trip to the National Ag in the Classroom Conference in Hershey, Pa., in June 2014.
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.