By Marlee Moore
Farmer-leaders Jimmy Parnell of Chilton County and Jake Harper of Wilcox County have been appointed to the Forever Wild Land Trust board, where they’ll serve the Central and Southern districts, respectively.
For decades, they’ve brought thoughtful decision-making skills to their family’s cattle and timber operations. Now, they’ll use same skill set and keen eye for detail on the Forever Wild board, Parnell said.
“Forever Wild was originally intended to protect distinctive and environmentally sensitive land in Alabama,” Parnell said. “We want to ensure Forever Wild stays true to its purpose. We take seriously our responsibility to use the land and use it well.”
Forever Wild was established in 1992 and has secured more than 270,000 acres across Alabama for public use. Parnell, Harper and their 13 fellow board members help oversee the trust and its acquisitions.
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth appointed Parnell to the board in early 2023.
“Jimmy Parnell personifies the kind of leaders we need serving on state boards — smart, experienced, selfless and dedicated to facing issues with a commonsense approach,” Ainsworth said. “The Forever Wild board also demands someone who understands and promotes responsible land management, so when you check all of those boxes, it becomes obvious that Jimmy Parnell is uniquely qualified for this position.”
Harper was appointed by former Speaker of the House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon in late 2022.
In addition to key roles on their family farms, Parnell and Harper are leaders in the Alabama Farmers Federation, the state’s largest farm organization with over 345,000 member families. Parnell is president, while Harper is Southwest Area vice president.
Parnell also serves as president of Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation board. He is a native of Stanton in Chilton County, graduated from Auburn University (AU) and has served multiple roles on agricultural and conservation-focused boards. Parnell and wife Robin have two children and two grandchildren.
Harper, who farms near Camden and holds a degree from AU, serves on numerous local and state committees. He and wife Pam have three children and one grandchild.