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August 23, 2014

By Jeff Helms

(334) 613-4212

Students and Federation leaders visit following the scholarship luncheon. From left are Federation President Jimmy Parnell, Pickens County senior Judson Smith, Pike County junior Katelyn Johnson, Pike County Farmers Federation President Steve Stroud and Federation Southeast Vice President George Jeffcoat.

AUBURN, Ala., — Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance helped secure a bright future for agriculture and forestry today as 70 Auburn University students received scholarships from the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation (AFAF).

Alfa and Federation President Jimmy Parnell congratulated the students for their academic achievements and challenged them to use their leadership skills to benefit the industry and their communities.

"This is an exciting day," Parnell said. "I look at this as an investment in the future of Alabama, the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama agriculture. These students will be key players in our future."

Among those recognized were 52 students who received $1,750 scholarships through a new program, whereby the Foundation provides $1,250 in matching funds for every county Federation that contributes $500 toward a scholarship.

Pike County junior Katelyn Johnson transferred to Auburn from Troy University this fall and is one of the first recipients of the new scholarship.

"I've grown up around agriculture and really love it, so I wanted to stay involved," said Johnson, who is majoring in agricultural communications. "I'm so grateful for the scholarship. It's going to help me get where I'm supposed to be. I really just want to be an advocate for agriculture."

Pike County Farmers Federation President Steve Stroud attended the recognition luncheon, where Johnson and other recipients received certificates and Alfa Farmers backpacks.

"With agriculture the way it is today, and with the world population increasing daily, we need more kids involved in agriculture," Stroud said. "These scholarships are just one of the avenues to attract those students."

Federation Southeast Vice President George Jeffcoat of Houston County chairs the organization's scholarship committee. He said the goal is to have at least one scholarship recipient from each of Alabama's 67 counties.

"I'm excited to see this many young people planning on going into the agriculture field," Jeffcoat said. "This program is a way we can help them continue their education."

Although the AFAF matching contribution applies to only one student per county, some county Federations awarded multiple scholarships. Other counties gave scholarships directly to students or through the College of Agriculture. Those students were recognized at other events, but all tolled, about 100 scholarship recipients will attend an Alabama college or technical school this fall with help from AFAF or a county Farmers Federation.

Rising tuition makes that investment more important than ever, said Tuscaloosa County Farmers Federation President Joe Anders.

"Anytime we can promote agriculture and get our youth involved in agriculture it is worth investing in," Anders said. "He who controls the food, controls the world, and we need keep encouraging young people to get involved in farming. They may have a dream to be involved in agriculture and can't afford it. But if they can get this scholarship, maybe they'll be able to achieve their dream."

Pickens County senior Judson Smith is living his dream thanks, in part, to an AFAF scholarship. He will graduate in May with a degree in animal sciences-muscle foods production. 

"My short-term plans are to work in a food facility, particularly a beef facility, doing food safety and quality assurance," Smith said. "My long-range plans would be to come back to Alabama and start a vertically integrated beef operation to provide jobs, economic stability and a sense of pride for this area."

Smith said the scholarship gave him financial security to pursue internships and other leadership development opportunities while in college. 

"I believe it's important as we look to the future and a growing population that we have a means to feed that population and we have a means to feed it domestically," Smith said. "Domestic production is the key to our independence and our prosperity as a country. To be on the forefront of the curve excites me."

In addition to 60 county scholarship recipients honored at the luncheon, 10 students were recognized for continuing their AFAF scholarships under the previous statewide program.

Scholarship recipients recognized, by county and major, were:

Matthew Golson, Autauga, Plant Sciences-Agronomy

Zachary Lee, Autauga, Biosystems Engineering

Megan Gibbs, Baldwin, Agricultural Communications

Jasmine Morris, Baldwin, Veterinary Medicine

Mallory Burch, Baldwin, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

Annelise Salzmann, Baldwin, Biosystems Engineering

Catherine Taylor, Baldwin, Science and Mathematics

John Jones, Barbour, Agricultural Business and Economics

Karri Fievet, Blount, Poultry Science-Pre-Vet

William Burns, Butler, Forestry

Andrew Newell, Calhoun, Poultry Science-Production

Zachary Slay, Chambers, Natural Resources Management

Darbie Rosser, Cherokee, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

Morgan Short, Cherokee, Poultry Science-Production

Ariana Parsons, Chilton, Horticulture

Marlee Moore, Clarke, Agricultural Communications

Savannah Duke, Clay, Horticulture

Abby Ledbetter, Cleburne, Agricultural Business and Economics

Megan Hataway, Coffee, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

Robin Aldridge, Colbert, Pre-Agriscience Education

Kelly Goneke, Conecuh, Poultry Science-Production

Brandon Buckelew, Covington, Wildlife Ecology and Management

Sherry Thomas, Crenshaw, Food Science Option-Poultry Science

Hannah Donaldson, Cullman, Agricultural Communications

Christopher Thomas, Dale, Agronomy and Soils (Production)

Lauren Yeldell, Dallas, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

Peyton Gilbert, DeKalb, Poultry Science-Production

Jonathan Roberts, DeKalb, Poultry Science-Production

Sarah Jackson, Elmore, Agricultural Communications

Raven Beasley, Escambia, Agricultural Communications

Kennedy Vice, Etowah, Agricultural Business and Economics

Alexandria Norris, Fayette, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

Allison Sauders, Geneva, Agricultural Business and Economics

Leigh Money, Henry, Pre-Agriscience Education

Joshua Starling, Houston, Biosystems Engineering

Kileigh Speed, Houston, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

Tristan Yates, Jackson, Horticulture

Austin Duran, Lamar, Pre-Biosystems Engineering

Robert Cornelius, Lauderdale, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

Kaitlin Green, Lawrence, Horticulture

Ivy Sibley, Lee, Agricultural Communications

Presley Townsend, Limestone, Agricultural Communications

Adam Callis, Lowndes, Agricultural Business and Economics

Jacob Kendall, Madison, Horticulture

Jeremy Comer, Madison, Horticulture

Sonja Cox, Madison, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

Michael Torres, Madison, Agricultural Business and Economics

John Stuedeman, Marengo, Pre-Ecological-Biosystems Engineering

Auston Holland, Marion, Horticulture

Joshua Williams, Marshall, Pre-Agriscience Education

Jaida West, Mobile, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

Jake Tucker, Monroe, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

Mallory Boyd, Montgomery, Agricultural Business and Economics

Mitchell Henry, Montgomery, Animal Sciences-Production Management

Kayla Sellers, Montgomery, Agricultural Communications

Lilly Oaks, Morgan, Horticulture

Judson Smith, Pickens, Animal Sciences-Muscle Foods

Katelyn Johnson, Pike, Agricultural Communications

William Knight, Randolph, Agricultural Communications

Stewart Teal, Randolph, Pre-Biosystems Engineering

Ronald Beck, Russell, Animals Sciences-Pre-Vet

Kasey Blore, St. Clair, Poultry Science-Production

Patrick Dreher, Shelby, Horticulture

Mary Holder, Shelby, Poultry Science-Pre-Vet

Catherine Rasco, Talladega, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

Rebecca Oliver, Tallapoosa, Agricultural Communications

Robert Hemphill, Tuscaloosa, Agricultural Business and Economics

Hannah Kittrell, Washington, Horticulture

Peyton Burford, Wilcox, Agricultural Business and Economics

Claudia Harper, Wilcox, Animal Sciences-Pre-Vet

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