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February 03, 2007   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
February 03, 2007

Current Young Farmers leaders honor the pioneers of the program. From left are, Young Farmers Director Brandon Moore; John Dorrill, who was the first staff director of the program; Marvin Kelley, the first Young Farmers chairman; and Steve Stroud, current chairman of the State Young Farmers Committee.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala.,Feb. 3 -- Eleven successful farm families were honored today as the Alabama Farmers Federation gathered in Huntsville to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Young Farmers program.

More than 400 Federation members were on hand for the Young Farmers Leadership Conference, which included educational seminars, the Outstanding Young Farm Family and Collegiate Discussion Meet contests, and a special recognition of the first leaders of the Young Farmers division.

"You, your organization and others like you are the hope of this country," said Marvin Kelley of Etowah County, who was honored as the first chairman of the Young Farmers program.

In returning to the Federation a silver bowl he won at the first Young Farmers Talk Meet (now Discussion Meet), Kelley asked the next generation of farmers to proudly display his prize as a reminder of the tradition it represents.

"There are people in this room tonight who will be here for the centennial (of the Young Farmers). My challenge to you is to keep the tradition going," Kelley said.

John Dorrill, the first staff director of the Young Farmers division, also was recognized during the closing banquet.

"I had no idea that the Young Farmers would evolve into what it is today," Dorrill said. I did not dream of the progress you have made. It's just amazing."

Following the commemoration of the 50th anniversary, current Young Farmers Director Brandon Moore joined State Young Farmers Chairman Steve Stroud of Pike County and Federation President Jerry A. Newby of Limestone County in presenting plaques to 11 commodity division winners in the Outstanding Young Farm Family competition.

The winners, by division, are: Beef, Chad and Stacy Tribble of Limestone County; Cotton, Gaylan and Angie Shelly of Escambia County; Forestry, Chip Stacey of Conecuh County; Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod, Rob and Angie McHugh of St. Clair County; Hay and Forage, Brad and Jennifer Bradley of Jefferson County; Horticulture, Chris and Monica Carroll of Dale County; Peanut, Andy and Dixie Lavender of Coffee County; Poultry, Jonathan and Laura Burge of Randolph County; Soybean, Ben Raby of Limestone County; Wheat and Feed Grains, Benjamin and Miranda Looney of Limestone County; and Wildlife, Will and Kendall Ainsworth of Marshall County.

From the commodity division winners, six young farm families were selected as finalists. They will go on to compete for the title of 2007 Outstanding Young Farm Family, to be named at the Federation's 86th Annual Meeting in December.

This year's finalists are: Chad and Stacy Tribble of Limestone County, Gaylan and Angie Shelly of Escambia County, Chip Stacey of Conecuh County, Rob and Angie McHugh of St. Clair County, Chris and Monica Carroll of Dale County and Will and Kendall Ainsworth of Marshall County.

Alabama's 2007 Outstanding Young Farm Family will receive a John Deere Gator sponsored by the Federal Land Bank Associations of Alabama, the use of a 2007 Dodge vehicle sponsored by the state's county Farmers Federations, a computer system from ValCom Business Centers, $500 cash from Dodge and a one-year free membership in the Alabama Farm Analysis Association. The winner will serve as an ex-officio member of the State Young Farmers Committee and will win a trip to the 2008 American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La., to compete with other farmers from around the nation for the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award.

Also during the conference, students had a chance to compete in the Collegiate Discussion Meet, an interactive public speaking event that tests the participants' knowledge of agriculture issues and their ability to find solutions and build consensus.

The first-place winner in the Collegiate Discussion Meet was Katlin Mulvaney of Opelika, and Blake McGilberry of Childersburg was runner-up. Both are students in Auburn University's College of Agriculture.

Educational programs during the two-day conference included a presentation by Bruce Vincent, a third-generation Montana timber grower, who urged Alabama's young farmers to help shape a new environmental vision for agriculture.

Shelaine Wise of the Mississippi Agro-Tourism Association discussed how farmers can incorporate agro-tourism into their farming operations. Federation National Affairs Director Keith Gray provided an update on the Farm Bill and other national issues.

During his closing remarks, Federation President Jerry A. Newby, who is a former state Young Farmers chairman, praised the leaders of the past for their vision and today's young farmers for their perseverance.

"You not only planted the seed, but you watered it -- and just look at what it has produced tonight," said Newby to the Young Farmers pioneers as he gestured to the crowd. He followed that by challenging the young people in attendance, "You are our future. You are what this organization is all about. We thank you for choosing to make the Alabama Farmers Federation part of your lives. We challenge you to stay involved and to look for ways to make this organization better."

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