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April 10, 2014

Debra Davis
(334) 451-2879

Top photo: Dale County Women's Leadership Committee Chairman Frankie Davis talks to Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan. Center: Candidates endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation met conference attendees following the April 3 breakfast. From left are State Auditor candidate Adam Thompson, Public Service Commission Place 2 candidate Chip Beeker, Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance President Jimmy Parnell, Secretary of State candidate John Merrill and Public Service Commissioner Place 1 incumbent Jeremy Oden. Bottom photo: Conference participants attended workshops on organization, cooking and Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC). From left are Shirley Ezzell, Ann Clark and Marge Pounders, all of Franklin County, in the AITC workshop.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., — Politics, organization skills, cooking and sharing the importance of farming were all part of the annual Alabama Farmers Federation Women's Leadership Conference in Birmingham, April 2-4.

Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska energized the group 230 women from around the state with stories about growing up in a small town where everyone was familiar with agriculture. After being crowned Miss America at 17, the youngest in pageant history, Scanlan said she realized how disconnected from agriculture much of the nation had become.

"I think most Americans are confused about agriculture," she said. "They only know what they see and hear from the news media or social media, and frankly, a lot of that is just wrong. That's why I decided to help share the good story of agriculture during my reign as Miss America. Farmers have a good story to tell; we just have to get better at telling it."

Scanlan's talk was a good segue for the conference programs, including the Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) workshop by Dewandee Neyman, a retired teacher and AITC volunteer, and Monty and Becky Bain of Cotton Inc.

An elementary teacher from Etowah County said the workshop was her favorite part of the conference.

"I've learned a lot of things that I can take back to my classroom," said Katie Sewell, a fourth-grade teacher at Southside Elementary School. "This was my first Women's Conference, and I don't really know what I expected, but it's been fun and interesting. I also liked the workshop on being more organized. I can use that at school and at home. I've enjoyed all of it, and I hope I get to come back."

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell praised the work of county Women's Leadership Committees around the state. He said when the Farmers Federation needs something done; the county Women’s Leadership Committees are the ones to count on.

"The men in our organization are hardworking, but when it comes to taking action and following through, ya'll are the ones we count on," Parnell told the women in attendance.

Governmental and Agricultural Programs Director Brian Hardin reminded members of the important role they play in good government. Several statewide candidates endorsed by the Federation were introduced at the conference including Secretary of State candidate John Merrill, State Auditor candidate Adam Thompson, Public Service Commission Place 1 incumbent Jeremy Oden and Public Service Commission Place 2 candidate Chip Beeker.

The state Farm-City Awards program, including the selection of Alabama's Farm of Distinction, was held in conjunction with the conference. For more on those programs, see pages 6-9 of this issue.

For more conference photos, visit the Federation's Facebook page or Flickrpage.

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