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July 02, 2012   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

Alabama students learn valuable lessons at Youth Leadership Conference

Student participants discuss the weekend agenda with chaperons during the opening session of the Youth Leadership Conference at the 4-H Center in Columbiana Friday, June 22. An annual event, the conference strengthens students’ leadership skills and educates them on agricultural issues. From left are State Young Farmers Committee Vice Chairman Clint McElmoyl; Heather Waterhouse, Marshall County; Jovita Perez, Marshall County; Haley Gothard, Bibb County; Keyannah Mays, Bibb County; State Young Farmers Committee member Scott Poague; and Ryan Wood, Coffee County.

Nearly 140 high school students strengthened their leadership skills during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s annual Youth Leadership Conference at the 4-H Center in Columbiana June 22-24.

The conference seeks to develop the students as leaders in their chosen careers while helping them better understand Alabama agriculture.

During the three-day event, 136 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors from 25 counties around the state participated in character-building activities and interactive workshops.

Federation Young Farmers Division Director Brandon Moore said the annual conference is a great way to bring the next generation of Alabama’s leaders together and teach them about the role of agriculture in the state and nation.

“Our focus is to teach them to recognize the responsibilities they have to develop into effective leaders so they can be prepared to give back to their communities, schools and churches,” said Moore, who organizes the annual conference.

According to Moore, the role of the conference is crucial to developing strong leaders not only for the Federation, but for other industry and trade organizations around the globe.

“The Youth Leadership Conference teaches delegates that regardless of which career path they choose, there are industry organizations that depend on members who have developed skills they need to get involved and make a difference.”

State Young Farmers Committee member Scott Poague, who served as a chaperon during the conference, echoed Moore’s remarks, adding that the event is beneficial in establishing a voice for farmers.

“In developing future leaders for this organization, it’s very important for counties to send young people to this conference. I think they take away a lot from the event,” said Poague. “It exposes them to different areas of agriculture they might not otherwise think about, while encouraging them to become service-minded leaders in whatever field they choose.”

Poague also emphasized how important it is to educate high school students about agriculture.

“These students are going to be the future leaders of our state and this organization,” he said. “They are going to be voting age soon, and they need to be educated about agriculture in order to make wise decisions regarding the food they eat and their view toward farming.”

While organizers and conference chaperons recognize the importance of the event, students enjoy the amenities of the 4-H Center and the ability to share their interests with peers from across the state.

Jovita Perez, a student from Asbury High School in Marshall County, said her favorite part of the conference was meeting students from across the state who share similar interests.

“We’re all here to learn,” said Perez. “And if we can have fun together and make new friends in the process, what could be better?”

For more information about the program, visit AlfaYoungFarmers.org.

Poultry Checkoff Committee Meeting

Poultry producers from throughout the state met June 20 at the Alabama Farmers Federation office in Montgomery to learn more about producer-funded checkoff programs and begin discussions about the possibility of a similar program for their industry. From left are Jeremy Brown of Montgomery County; Jan Woodham of Dale County; Garry Staples of St. Clair County; Kenneth Sanders of Coffee County and Committee Chairman Dorman Grace.

Teachers take to the fields during summer institute

Teachers from across Alabama gained first-hand knowledge of farming during the Alabama Ag In the Classroom Summer Institute June 12-14 at the Grand National Marriott in Opelika. Participants spent an entire day touring farms and agricultural education centers in Lee County. Following lunch at Lazenby Farms in Auburn, farmer Mitch Lazenby, center, talks about his corn crop with Helen Keller School teacher and Alabama Young Farmers member Rachel Wright, left, and Piedmont Elementary School teacher Rhonda Kirkpatrick.

Educators from across the state converged in Opelika June 12-14 to learn new and innovative ways to incorporate agriculture into their classrooms. Held at the Grand National Marriott, the Alabama Ag in the Classroom (AITC) Summer Institute is an annual program open to K-6 teachers and administrators.

Jennifer Walker, a kindergarten teacher at Sweet Water High School in Marengo County, said she was surprised by the number of commodities grown in Alabama and is excited to teach her students the importance of agriculture.

“Children these days don’t understand where things come from,” Walker said. “They just assume things come from the grocery store. They don’t know it takes a lot of work and effort from many people.”

Along with conference seminars, participants spent a day visiting local farms in Auburn and agriculture centers at Auburn University.

Randle Farms provided an example of a Community Supported Agriculture program. The Randles supply seasonal fruits and vegetables to patrons each week for a yearly fee. Attendees walked the grounds, munching fresh-picked blueberries and carrots as sheep grazed nearby.

A stop at Lazenby Farms exposed educators to a row-crop farm with an agritourism element. The pavilion offers a site for family gatherings, birthday parties and weddings. In October, the site becomes an autumn wonderland with a pumpkin patch, corn maze and hayrides.

Other tour stops included the Southeastern Raptor Center, the Horticulture Department and the Fisheries Department at Auburn University’s Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.

Faucett Vestavia Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jacqueline Hope said the entire experience was valuable.

“It has been so enlightening, and it is something authentic that I never would have gotten by just sitting in the classroom,” Hope said.

In addition to an agricultural experience, teachers who graduated from the institute left with supplies including farming books, lesson plans, DVDs and other educational resources.

The AITC program is funded largely from support of the Farming Feeds Alabama ag tags. For more information about the program, visit AlabamaAITC.org.

Alabamians save during sales tax holiday weekend

Alabama residents can save on severe weather preparedness items July 6-8 as part of the state’s first annual sales tax holiday weekends. Certain covered items will be exempt from state sales and use tax.

Exempt items include batteries; weather radios; flashlights; duct tape; non-electric food storage coolers and water storage coolers; non-electric can openers; first aid kits; fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; ground anchor systems including bungee cords, rope and tie-down kits; and gas or diesel fuel tanks and containers.

Plywood and other protective window coverings; tarps and plastic sheeting; and portable generators and power cords priced below $1,000 are also included.

For more information, visit the Alabama Department of Revenue’s website at revenue.alabama.gov.


Johnny Hollis, a Crenshaw County Farmers Federation board member, died June 18. He was 68.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Janice McCartha Hollis; daughter Jae Megan Fox (Ben); granddaughter Manning DeLaney Fox; and three sisters, Tula Bludsworth (Dennie), Mary Sybil Mitchell (Elton) and Margaret Folmar (Walter).

Memorial contributions may be made to Centenary Assembly of God Parsonage, 3414 Centenary Rd., Luverne, AL 36049.

James Howell Peebles, a Dale County Farmers Federation board member, died June 14. He was 88.

Survivors include his wife, Annie Howard Kelley Peebles; daughters Vivia Peebles and Alice Peebles Elliott (George); granddaughter Grace Elliott; sister Doris Peebles Stump; and brother Sam Peebles (Barbara).

Memorial contributions may be made to the Clopton United Methodist Church, the Clopton Methodist Cemetery Fund or the Clopton Community House, all c/o Jackie Blankenship, 2967 County Road 69, Newville, AL 36353.

Home Rule discussed in Constitutional Revision Commission meeting

The Alabama Constitutional Revision Commission resumed work on article-by-article revisions of the state constitution with an informational meeting June 20. By year-end, the commission will review three articles, one of which addresses the contentious issue of Home Rule.

Home Rule, which redistributes certain governmental powers from the state legislature to local control, is favored by groups that support local governments controlling taxation and zoning issues.

In 2005, legislation granted limited Home Rule to county governments, allowing greater control over issues of noise, sewage, litter, over-grown weeds, junk yards and animals outside of cities. Powers involving taxation and zoning remain with the state legislature.

The Alabama Farmers Federation’s policy opposes any attempt to allow the state to give up its responsibilities and powers to county or local units of government. Permitting Home Rule could effectively result in 67 counties operating as individual entities with various laws. Home Rule is included in Article IV of the Constitution.

The commission will also address articles on distribution of powers and representation.

The commission accepted the suggestion of former Alabama Law Institute Secretary Bob McCurley that Article IV be broken into three sections with subcommittees assigned to each. The local government section, which includes Home Rule, will be reviewed in a subcommittee chaired by Greg Butrus, a partner in the Balch & Bingham law firm. The ethics subcommittee will be chaired by Wetumpka Tea Party President Becky Gerritson. Matt Lembke, a partner in the Bradley, Arant, Boult, and Cummings law firm, will chair the legislative department subcommittee.

During the meeting, the commission also discussed ways to educate the public about amendments to the banking and corporations sections of the state constitution, which passed the legislature this session. The public will vote on the changes, known as Amendments 9 and 10 on the ballot, in the Nov. 6 general election.

The next Constitutional Revision Commission meeting is scheduled for Aug. 22.

The commission is chaired by former Alabama Gov. Albert Brewer, who was appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley. State Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, an ex-officio member, serves as vice chair.

Sunbelt Expo Field Day scheduled for July 12

Research, innovation and education are the highlights of the annual Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition’s Field Day, set for July 12 at Spence Field.

Attendees will see the latest seed varieties, chemical applications, irrigation technology and precision ag technology systems during the half-day event.

Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall will host a biscuit breakfast reception at 7:15 a.m., with attendees eligible to win $100 cash. The field tour begins at 8:30 a.m., with a complimentary lunch following at 12:15. There is no cost to attend the event, but early registration is encouraged.

Field Day, a preview to the Sunbelt Ag Expo in October, provides a unique opportunity for farmers to see future trends in agriculture.

Spence Field is located on Highway 133 in Moultrie, Ga., three miles southeast of U.S. Highway 319.

Click HERE for more information. 

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