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February 03, 2003   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
February 03, 2003

2003 division winners in the Outstanding Young Farm Family competition are, from left Meat Goat and Sheep Division winner Jay and Alison Cornelius of Lauderdale County, Peanut Division winner Darrin and Amanda Driskell of Mobile County, Catfish Division winner Travis and Keshia Wilson of Dallas County, Bee and Honey Division winner Barry and Christy Etheridge of Escambia County; Wheat and Feed Grains Division winner Chad and Marie Henderson and their children Jackson and Savannah of Limestone County, Soybean Division winner Jessie and Amanda Hobbs of Limestone County, Cotton Division winner Jay and Julia Anne Menter and their daughter Gilley of Dallas County, Forestry Division winner Larry and Suellen Gibson and their children William and Reagan of Pickens County, Beef Division winner Mike and Shannon Dee and their children Victoria and Isabella of Pickens County, Wildlife Division winner Joe and Amy Mathis of Bibb County, Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Division winner Lance and Dana Byrd of Shelby County, Poultry Division winner Bill and Melissa Walding and their children Bo, Emily Ann and Jacob of Dale County, and Dairy Division winner Will Gilmer of Lamar County.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Alabama's top young farm families in 13 commodity divisions were recognized Feb. 1 at the Alabama Farmers Federation's Young Farmers Leadership Conference in Birmingham. More than 300 farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 attended the annual conference, which is designed to foster leadership skills among young agricultural producers.

Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) division winners included: Barry and Christy Etheridge of Escambia County, bee and honey; Mike and Shannon Dee of Pickens County, beef; Travis and Keisha Wilson of Dallas County, catfish; Jay and Julia Anne Minter of Dallas County, cotton; Will Gilmer of Lamar County, dairy; Larry and Suellen Gibson of Pickens County, forestry; Lance and Dana Byrd of Shelby County, greenhouse, nursery and sod; Jay and Alison Cornelius of Lauderdale County, meat goat and sheep; Darrin and Amanda Driskell of Mobile County, peanuts; Bill and Melissa Walding of Dale County, poultry; Jessie and Amanda Hobbs of Limestone County, soybeans; Chad and Marie Henderson of Limestone County, wheat and feed grains; and Joe and Amy Mathis of Bibb County, wildlife.

"Though 2002 wasn't a banner year for agriculture, these families are positive proof that success in farming is not measured just by how much money is made or by the size of a farm operation," said Young Farmers Director Brandon Moore. "Their success is evident in the way they've handled the challenges posed by markets, the weather and politics, and in the courage they've shown in overcoming the odds."

Each division winner received a plaque and a $200 cash award. The division winners also will serve on their respective state commodity committees during 2003. From the 13 commodity winners, the judges selected six finalists to compete for the title of overall 2003 Outstanding Young Farm Family. The finalists were Mike and Shannon Dee, Jay and Julia Anne Minter, Larry and Suellen Gibson, Lance and Dana Byrd, Darrin and Amanda Driskell and Chad and Marie Henderson. The overall winner will be announced this December at the Alabama Farmers Federation's annual meeting in Mobile.

During the weekend conference, young farmers participated in workshops on a variety of topics including commodity hedging, estate planning and business organization. Participants also had opportunities to exchange ideas and discuss the challenges and opportunities related to agricultural production in the 21st century.

Speakers included Alfa Farmers President Jerry Newby, 2002 Outstanding Young Farm Family David and Wendy Rogers, 1988 Outstanding Young Farm Family Hank and Dianne Gaines, State FFA President Christopher Randolph, Miss Alabama Agriculture Melissa McCord, Pete McCoy of Freedom Forums, Glen Arnold, a commodity hedge consultant, attorney Mitch Henry and Julie Feagin and Alicia Clavell of Southern Living magazine.

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