The Georgia Farm Bureau Federation recognized the best of the organization’s volunteers and county chapters during an awards program held Dec. 4 at the GFB 73rd annual convention on Jekyll Island.
The state award winners were honored for the programs they conducted this past year to promote agriculture.
“Statewide, our county Farm Bureau volunteers have worked faithfully this year to educate their communities about Georgia agriculture by hosting legislative meetings, Farm-City Week events, farm safety programs, farm tours, and Ag in the Classroom activities along with numerous other events that highlight the contribution farming makes to Georgia’s economy,” GFB President Zippy Duvall said.
“While we appreciate the work all of our volunteers did to promote agriculture this year, our award winners are being recognized for the extraordinary passion they displayed while promoting agriculture and Farm Bureau.”
Georgia Farm Bureau named a McKemie Award winner — the highest honor given to a county in recognition of its outstanding member programs — from each of its three membership categories.
Crawford County Farm Bureau received the McKemie Award for the zero to 1,500-member division.Edd Harris is president of the Crawford County Farm Bureau.
Greene County Farm Bureau won the McKemie Award for the 1,501 to 2,600-member division. Charles Crumbley is president of the Greene County Farm Bureau.
Newton County received the award in the 2,601 plus-member division. Brent Galloway is president of the Newton County Farm Bureau.
The McKemie Award is a memorial to one of the organization’s former presidents, W.J. McKemie.
Finalists in the McKemie competition, listed in alphabetical order, for the zero to 1,500-member division were: Bacon, Heard, Jasper, Meriwether, Upson and Wilcox counties.
Finalists for the 1,501 to 2,600-member division were: Berrien, Bibb, Floyd, Franklin, Harris, Pike, Polk, Spalding and Washington counties.
Finalists in the 2,601 plus-member division were: Barrow, Chattooga, Cherokee, Emanuel, Habersham, Henry, McDuffie, Madison and Stephens counties.
Distinguished Service Award
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.
Other finalists in the GFB Young Farmer Achievement Contest were Chris and Marilynn Hopkins of Toombs County and Cody and Lora Lord of Laurens County.
The Hopkins grow cotton, watermelons, peanuts, wheat, corn and pecans.
The Lords grow cotton, wheat, corn, soybeans, hay, peanuts and canola. The two finalist couples received a $250 cash award.
Sara Ervin of Jackson County won the Young Farmer Discussion Meet and will enjoy an expense-paid trip to the AFBF Convention in Hawaii to compete for national honors. Other finalists included Kyle Dekle of Habersham County, Skye Gess of Oconee County and Troy Windham of Laurens County. During the discussion meet, the contestants discussed the role, if any, agriculture should play in addressing health and obesity issues.
Ervin received a $500 cash award, courtesy of Georgia Farm Bureau, and an Arctic Cat 500 all- terrain-vehicle courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance. The three finalists each received a $350 cash award from SunTrust Bank.
Other state awards presented included: Outstanding Promotion & Education Award and Outstanding Women’s Leadership Award both received by Cherokee County Farm Bureau; Outstanding Legislative Award received by Newton County Farm Bureau; Outstanding Young Farmer Committee Award received by Madison County Farm Bureau; Outstanding Member Services Award received by Clayton County Farm Bureau and New Farmer Member Award received by Johnson County Farm Bureau.
Phyllis Boyd, Berrien County Farm Bureau office manager, received the organization’s Outstanding Secretary Award. Boyd was recognized for her professionalism and for her work to promote agriculture and Farm Bureau in her local community.
A native of Berrien County, Boyd has been employed with Berrien County Farm Bureau since April 2009. Boyd, who has always lived on a farm, says her involvement with the community and working with farmers to keep them informed of what Farm Bureau offers them through their membership are her favorite aspects of her job. She and her late husband, Martie, have two children, Jennifer and Levi.
Founded in 1937, the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization. The organization has 158 county chapters. Its volunteer members actively participate in local, district and state activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors. GFB also has 20 commodity advisory committees that give the organization input on issues pertinent to the major commodities grown in Georgia.