Young farmers from throughout the state were honored during a special graduation ceremony Dec. 6 at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 90th Annual Meeting in Mobile.
Participants of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Agricultural Leaders For Alabama (A.L.F.A.) class – which places an emphasis on personal development, political involvement, effective communication and other skills necessary to become a better leader – were the second group to complete the intensive program.
Over the course of two years, participants attended sessions on media training and emerging technology; toured farms; met with state legislators and collaborated with Kentucky Farm Bureau’s Leadership Enhancement for Agricultural Development (LEAD) class. They also attended two state annual meetings of the Alabama Farmers Federation.
“Agriculture is Alabama’s largest industry, and it’s important for farmers and producers to have a strong voice,” said Young Farmers Division Director Brandon Moore, who coordinates the A.L.F.A. Leaders program with National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker. “We want these young leaders to be active in strengthening the mission of our organization, but we also want them to be successful in strengthening agriculture on local, state and national levels.”
Designed to provide a structured training program for Alabama residents between the ages of 25 and 45, the A.L.F.A. program offers participants the opportunity to increase their leadership effectiveness and involvement while enhancing their personal and professional development in agricultural policy, industry leadership and organizational involvement.
Recognizing that strong communication skills are essential tools for establishing and retaining legislative support, Walker noted the benefits behind the program’s structure.
“Graduates of the A.L.F.A. program gain the ability to utilize the grassroots structure of the Federation, which is crucial to promoting and protecting Alabama agriculture,” said Walker. “Having the ability to utilize the legislative and political process gives these young leaders the ability to ensure that farmers remain a priority, especially in terms of policy development and other legislative concerns.”
Hassey Brooks, Class II graduate and assistant to Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan, said he was pleased by how much information he learned from the seminars and farm visits.
“One of the most beneficial tools I learned from the A.L.F.A. program was how to develop better time management skills,” said Brooks. “Media training also was very helpful, as it provided tools I can use to help explain agriculture’s story to the majority of the public who are several generations removed from the farm.”
Brooks noted that while the training he received is something he can continue to use, the relationships formed during the program had the greatest impact on him.
“The best part of the A.L.F.A. program is the collaboration and bonding of classmates throughout the two-year period,” said Brooks. “I believe everyone who was a part of this class can pick up the phone in the future and exchange ideas or thoughts concerning his or her operation. With many young adults seeking careers in agriculture, it’s great to have the chance to meet new friends and gain leadership skills that can be carried on for many years.”
Graduates from the second A.L.F.A. class were: Kevin and Rachel Holland, Baldwin County; Clay Scofield, Blount County; Troy Tindal, Butler County; Jon Hegeman, Calhoun County; Bradley Stewart, Clay County; Monica Carroll, Dale County; Jay Minter IV, Dallas County; Toby McCormick, DeKalb County; Scott Poague, Elmore County; Deana Sublett, Madison County; Corey Hill, Marshall County; Hassey Brooks and Trey Flowers, Montgomery County; Kelly Pritchett, Pike County; and Jeremie Redden, Russell County.