The Georgia Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award was presented posthumously to Jack Elkins of Henry County. This award is the highest honor Georgia Farm Bureau gives to a volunteer leader and is designed to recognize Farm Bureau leaders who have made an outstanding contribution to Farm Bureau and agriculture over a long period of time.

Elkins served as a director on the Henry County Farm Bureau Board of Directors from 1990 to 1997 and as HCFB president from 1998until his death Feb. 1, 2010.

He led HCFB through a period of change during the 1990s when the county was one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties. Though the county’s transition from rural to suburban was swift, Elkins was instrumental in HCFB continuing as an active county Farm Bureau chapter. Elkins grew horse-quality hybrid bermudagrass hay with his wife, Dianne, on their family farm.

“Georgia Farm Bureau prides itself on being a grassroots organization that serves as the voice of Georgia agriculture. Jack embraced our mission statement with his whole heart and worked passionately as an advocate for agriculture not only in Henry County, but on the state and national level, too,” Duvall said.

Elkins served on numerous Henry County government committees, including the Long Range Planning Committee for Comprehensive Land Use. As a member of this committee, he successfully secured provisions in the master plan that provide for the transfer of development rights of farmland to preserve green space in Henry County.

As the Georgia Water Council worked to develop a statewide water plan from 2006 to 2008, Elkins faithfully attended the council’s public meetings to represent agriculture. In June 2009 then-Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson appointed Elkins to serve on the Metro North Georgia Water Planning District Governing Board (MNGWPD), which oversees regional water issues for 15 counties in the metro-Atlanta area.

As HCFB president, Elkins traveled to Washington, D.C., each year with other county Farm Bureau leaders to meet with Georgia’s Congressional delegation and was an active participant in the American Farm Bureau’s Action Group — always responding to calls to contact national legislators about farm issues.

In addition to his wife, Dianne, threeadult daughters, two adult sons, 10 grandchildren and onegreat-grandchild survive Elkins.

Chad and Julie Carlton of Polk County were named the Young Farmer Achievement winners. The Carltons raise free-range laying hens, which produce edible eggs that they sell directly to consumers and restaurants in the Atlanta area.

The hens, a cross between Rhode Island reds and white laying hens, live in henhouses with retractable sides and produce 700 dozen eggs a week. The Carltons use portable fencing to rotate the ground the birds roam and to protect them from predators. 

The Carltons also raise grass-fed beef and free-range turkeys.

The Carltons received a $500 cash prize and a year’s use of a Kubota tractor for being named the state winner. They also won an expense-paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention Jan. 8-10 in Honolulu, Hawaii, to compete for national honors.