August 23, 2014
By Jeff Helms
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