Geared Up To Grow Agricultural Literacy
Ask Kathy Gordon about the Alabama Farmers Federation, and it’s guaranteed her answer, always given with a smile, will center on agricultural literacy.
That’s what Gordon, 66, is focusing on as the 2020 Federation State Women’s Leadership Committee (WLC) chair. As chair, she serves a one-year, ex-officio term on the Federation board of directors.
“For decades, I’ve worked with the Women’s Leadership Committee as an ambassador for agriculture,” said Gordon, who helped found the Montgomery County WLC in the 1980s. “Through the years, the Federation has become geared more toward women, and it’s been wonderful to see ladies support the state’s No. 1 industry. Our resources can revitalize communities and classrooms, giving educators confidence to teach agriculture.”
Gordon’s appreciation for the outdoors stems from her childhood on a small farm in Grady. As a teenager, her farm-focused lifestyle was cemented after meeting Monty, her husband of 48 years.
“I wanted to marry a farmer, and my sister told me not to marry a man with a dairy. Then I met Monty, and his family had two dairies,” Gordon said with a smile. “Before we married, his family made sure I learned how to rake hay and milk cows.”
The Gordons’ farm evolved through the years, concentrating on crops such as wheat, soybeans and grain sorghum before converting to a quail preserve. In 1979, the couple’s hard work and enthusiasm earned them, and sons Paul and Justin, the title of Alabama’s Outstanding Young Farm Family.
“Kathy was the most important part of the hunting business; she was the bookkeeper,” said Monty, 70, a former State Young Farmers Committee chair.
Raking hay, making reservations for sportsmen and overseeing quail incubators were her other roles. She also cultivated a 36-year career working in the Finance Department for the Montgomery County School District. Gordon, who plans to retire this year, is past president of the Alabama Association of School Office Personnel.
Working in schools provided her an outlet to grow others’ appreciation for agriculture by promoting Alabama Farm-City contests and distributing agriculture coloring books and soy crayons, Gordon said.
Through the local WLC and Montgomery’s Daffodil Garden Club, she helped teachers who attended Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute establish campus vegetable gardens. Once students harvested their crop — which included tomatoes, peppers and herbs — they sampled the garden’s bounty through a simple salsa recipe.
“It’s amazing to see agriculture come full circle for those students,” she said.
Federation Women’s Division Director Kim Earwood praised Gordon for her giving spirit and enthusiasm.
“I don’t think you could find anyone who is more passionate than Kathy about promoting agriculture, especially with today’s educators and in Alabama’s school systems. She is always willing to give of her time and talents to help others,” Earwood said. “We’re excited to see her leadership in action as she encourages county WLCs to help their communities, grow interest in the Federation, engage in the legislative process and educate future generations about agriculture.”
Gordon said some of her earliest WLC memories include modeling homemade cotton clothes during sewing contests at the Women’s Leadership Conference in Birmingham. As State WLC chair, she and other WLC members play a pivotal role in organizing the annual April conference.
Though the Gordons moved to Lake Martin when Monty retired, agriculture remains an active aspect of their lives. They routinely check fences and help manage wildlife on son Paul’s Coosa County property. Monty serves on the Federation’s State Wildlife Committee and Montgomery County Farmers Federation board.
“Being involved in the Federation helps develop leadership skills,” Monty said. “Farming is such a great lifestyle to raise a family. I wish everyone could do it.”
With years of agricultural experience, the Gordons said they’re optimistic about the future of agriculture but caution producers to exercise wisdom.
“In today’s society, it’s hard to start farming from scratch,” Gordon said. “I recommend people start small and build a farm.”
The Gordons enjoy spending time with their grandchildren — Jacob, Emma, Paxton, Powell and Mary Jack. They are members of Hope Hull United Methodist Church.