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February 02, 2013   Email to Friend 

AGRICULTURE LEADERS NAMED TO HALL OF HONOR
Jeff Helms
334-613-4212
February 02, 2013

Auburn University College of Agriculture Dean Bill Batchelor, left, and AU Ag Alumni Association 2012 President Bill Gilley, right, congratulate inductees into the Hall of Honor. From left are Batchelor, Tommy Paulk, Philip Martin, Dr. Robert Brewer and Gilley.
AUBURN, Ala.-- Agricultural leaders in farming, agribusiness and education were honored Thursday night in Auburn as five inductees were added to the Alabama Agriculture Hall of Honor.

Coffee County farmer Philip Martin, former Auburn University Poultry Sciences Department Head Robert Brewer and retired Alabama Farmers Cooperative CEO Tommy Paulk joined 85 men and women who been honored since 1985. Former Delta Pride Catfish CEO and President Samuel Hinote and former Alabama Power Co. Executive Vice President Everett Easter were honored posthumously with the Pioneer Award.

Sponsored by the Auburn University Agricultural Alumni Association, the Hall of Honor recognizes Alabama residents who have contributed to the state’s farming industry.

Martin, who served as president of the Coffee County Farmers Federation from 1967 to 1998, took over day-to-day operation of his family’s dairy farm in 1956 after graduating from the University of Tennessee.

Under his leadership, the dairy operation grew exponentially, earning Martin seven Alabama Master Dairyman Awards. Martin later diversified into peanuts and corn, however, his contributions to Alabama agriculture were not confined to his farm. Martin helped inspire young people by coaching judging teams, hosting interns and sponsoring exchange students. He also served on the boards of directors of both the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Federal Land Bank.

A native of Phil Campbell, Brewer earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Auburn University. After working as a poultry specialist for Pillsbury Co. and earning a doctorate from the University of Georgia, Brewer returned to Auburn in 1968 as an assistant professor of poultry science. He was named department head in 1987, a position he held until his retirement in 2001.

During Brewer’s tenure, student enrollment in poultry sciences at Auburn quadrupled. He also is credited with envisioning and securing funding for the 85,000-square-foot Poultry Science Building.

Paulk grew up at his family’s business, Bonnie Plants, in Union Springs and working as a crop duster in the off season. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University at Montgomery and a law degree from Jones School of Law in Montgomery.

In 1975, Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC) bought Bonnie Plants, and Paulk was named sales manager in 1977. He was later promoted to general manager before being named CEO in 1994. Paulk developed a new marketing strategy for Bonnie Plants that led to the development of 75 growing and distribution sites. He also expanded AFC’s investment in the catfish industry, including pioneering work in a system developed by Auburn that allows farmers to grow more fish in less space.

Hinote graduated from Auburn in 1965 and earned his master’s degree in agricultural economics in 1967. He began his career with Nebraska Consolidated Mills, which later became ConAgra Inc., and eventually became general manager of fish products operations for the company.

In 1980, Hinote moved to Indianola, Miss., as manager and founding president and CEO of Delta Pride Catfish. Hinote returned to Alabama in 1990 where he purchased Blue Waters Catfish Processing in Demopolis.

During his career, Hinote received the Catfish Farmers Marketing Association Award and the Governor’s Bronze Glove Award for contributions to the Mississippi economy. He served two terms as president of the American Catfish Marketing Association and was a featured speaker at aquaculture conferences around the world until his death in 2010.

A Limestone County native, Easter earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University). He then joined the agricultural engineering faculty as an associate professor charged with supervising research about the use of electricity on farms and in rural communities.

After completing his research, Easter was hired by Alabama Power Co. as chief agricultural engineer to supervise expansion of electricity into rural areas of the state. By the time he became executive vice president in 1958, Alabama Power had run 25,000 miles of rural lines, bringing electricity to 200,000 customers.

Known as the pioneer of rural electrification in Alabama, Easter established a department within Alabama Power that focused on rural issues and staffed it with agricultural engineers. Easter remained involved in rural development and agriculture until his death in 1979. He was recognized by both the Alabama 4-H Club and Future Farmers of America for his leadership in making farm life more productive and convenient.

Since 1996, the Alabama Agriculture Hall of Honor has presented the Pioneer Award to the families of 36 individuals whose contributions had a positive impact on farming in the state.

For more information about the AU Ag Alumni Association and the Hall of Honor, visit http://www.ag.auburn.edu/alumni/.



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