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August 24, 2013   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
334 613-4212
August 24, 2013

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell, second from left, and College of Agriculture Dean Bill Batchelor, right, visit with scholarship recipients Mitchell Henry of Montgomery County, left, and Kayla Sellers of Elmore County outside the Alabama Farmers Pavilion at Ag Heritage Park.
AUBURN, Ala., Aug. 24 -- Students majoring in agriculture and forestry at Auburn University were presented scholarships from the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance today during a luncheon at Ag Heritage Park.

Kayla Sellers of Elmore County was among 23 students who received scholarships from the state organization.

"This scholarship gives me motivation to want to do better, because I'm not only held up to my parents' expectations, but I'm also representing Alfa and the Alabama Farmers Federation," said Sellers, who turns 20 next week and is majoring in agricultural communications. "I've grown up around agriculture my entire life, and I've always had a heart for it. I'm not much of a science-oriented person; I'm a people person. So, agricultural communications was the best of both worlds."

In addition to those receiving state scholarships, 12 students from Baldwin, Dale, Etowah, Houston and Madison counties were honored at the luncheon with county scholarships. Another 30 students from around the state received help with tuition directly from county Federations. In all, 65 students from 29 counties received scholarships. Federation President Jimmy Parnell hopes to see the program grow.

"Our goal, next year, is to have 67 counties with scholarship winners," said Parnell, 49. "The state organization is going to put up $1,250 for every county that puts $500 toward a scholarship. We are looking forward to growing this relationship with Auburn and the students across the state because we want to develop more leaders."

Randolph County Farmers Federation President Jimmy Fetner, 61, said scholarships make a difference in the lives of students and rural communities.

"If I had an opportunity for a scholarship when I was younger, my life would have probably been different," Fetner said. "I've worked twice as hard as I would had I known how to do things to start with. If we can teach these students how to do things right the first time, it will cut costs. I think all counties need to support scholarships and create a place for these students to come back with the know-how to help agriculture and the community."

Mitchell Henry, 19, of Montgomery County said the Alfa Farmers scholarship already is helping him establish a beef cattle business.

"By providing this scholarship, you are helping me start my business because you are allowing me to put money into my business that I would normally be using for tuition," Henry said. "Once I get my undergrad in animal science, I hope to take over my granddad's farm. It's a stocker or backgrounding operation in Moulton, Ala."

During his time at Auburn, Henry is focused on learning about the latest advancements in technology, nutrition and medicine, so he can improve the profitability of the beef cattle farm. The Hope Hull native also is making connections with professors, scientists and other students that will last a lifetime, he said.

Morgan County student and horticulture major David Reeves, 23, received a Federation scholarship multiple years. The financial assistant is helping Reeves realize his dream of working in a nursery or stepping into a leadership role at the family fruit farm in Hartselle.

"The scholarship means a great deal because my parents just got through putting my sister through college, and my brother is just starting college," Reeves said.

Federation Southwest Vice President Jake Harper, 57, graduated from Auburn in 1978 with a degree in agricultural science. At the time, there weren't as many scholarships. His son, Jacob, 26, however, benefited from an Alfa scholarship in forestry engineering. Today, Jacob is finishing law school and hopes to help forest owners by practicing environmental law in Alabama.

"It's very important to give others an opportunity to pursue agriculture and forestry careers," Harper said. "The cost of education has just gone out of sight. Agriculture is important, and we need to encourage students to work in this field."

Auburn University College of Agriculture Dean Bill Batchelor agreed.

"There's more need today than ever before for well-trained agricultural scientists," Batchelor told students gathered for the luncheon. "I tell our professors they have to teach you everything you need to know to solve all the world's problems in 2050 or 2060.

"I want to thank Alfa for all they've done to make this possible for you and to help attract the top kids in the state of Alabama into our majors and into the College of Agriculture," Batchelor added. "They are making this investment because they have a passion for the agriculture and forestry industries and because they believe in you."

Parnell thanked the parents in attendance for their role in preparing students for college, and he challenged the scholarship recipients to develop leadership skills.

"I recognize that it takes great parents to make great kids. Thank you for your contribution to society. It's great to be around people who are working hard to raise great kids," Parnell said.

To the students, Parnell added, "Develop your leadership skills. Learn to think. Learn to work, and then have the courage to stand up for whatever you think is right. That's the difference between a leader and a follower."

Students receiving Alabama Farmers Federation scholarships were: Sara-Abbie Adcock, Randolph County; Peyton Burford, Wilcox County; Dalton Burns, Crenshaw County; Gina Davis, Covington County; Hannah Donaldson, Cullman County; Ashley Durrett, Tuscaloosa County; Peyton Gilbert, DeKalb County; Megan Goldman, Washington County; Darcey Haggan, Chilton County; Chadwick Hamm, Barbour County; Jake Hammond, Lauderdale County; Mitchell Henry, Montgomery County; Mary Pat Holder, Shelby County; Luke Knight, Randolph County; Morgan Lambard, Clarke County; Lauren Lambeth, Escambia County; Zac Lee, Autauga County; David Reeves, Morgan County; Kayla Sellers, Elmore County; Morgan Short, Calhoun County; Ali Sikes, Montgomery County; Louis Stuedeman, Marengo County; and Connor Webster, Madison County.

Baldwin County Farmers Federation scholarship winners were Jasmine Morris, Joseph Palmer and Annelise Salzmann. Tucker Thompson received a scholarship from the Dale County Farmers Federation. Etowah County Farmers Federation awarded scholarships to Allison Biddle, Matthew Roberts and Katelyn Waters. Kileigh Speed and Sally Woods received scholarships from the Houston County Farmers Federation. Madison County Farmers Federation scholarships went to Jeremy Comer, Sonja Cox and Michael Torres.

Students honored at the luncheon also were recognized at the College of Agriculture Scholarship program later Saturday afternoon at the Dixon Conference Center. Scholarship recipients from other county Farmers Federation were among those honored.

The Henry A. Bullard Morgan County Farmers Federation scholarship was awarded to Jacob Williams. Autauga County Farmers Federation gave a scholarship to Jessie Nichols. Hale County Farmers Federation awarded a scholarship to Anna Glover. Jefferson County Farmers Federation scholarships went to Callan Freese, Thomas Lewis, Grayson Owen and William Sharp. Lawrence County Farmers Federation awarded a scholarship to Jose Gardner. Lee County Farmers Federation scholarship recipients were Hannah Lane, Frank Reeves, Nicolas Resa and Evelyn Willmon. 

Montgomery County Farmers Federation scholarship winners were Paul Bartley, Luke Carlson, Elizabeth Funderburk, Martha Funderburk, William Green, Mitchell Henry, John Higgins, Kayla Sellers, Ali Sikes and Carla Weissand. Alabama Catfish Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation, presented a scholarship to Evelyn Willmon.

For photos from the scholarship luncheon and recognition program, visit the Federation's Facebook page.

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