A friendly smile and genuine love of farming make Cheryl Lassiter of Choctaw County the perfect ambassador for agriculture. She enjoys sharing information about her family, her farm and the Alabama Farmers Federation, which she will have even more opportunities to do as the newly elected chairman of the organization’s State Women’s Leadership Committee.
Cheryl’s ascent to the chairman’s role follows nearly two decades of involvement with the Choctaw County Farmers Federation, including 10 years with the county Women’s Leadership Committee, three of which she served on the state committee. She said she loves working on the farm with her husband, Jeff, when she’s not at her day job as office manager for South Alabama Land and Timber Co. in Silas. Even with substantial demands on her time, she finds opportunities to be active in Federation programs and events.
“I’m very excited and humbled by the opportunity to serve as state chairman,” Cheryl said. “Being involved in the Women’s Leadership Committee has opened a lot of doors for me, and I’ve met people from all across our state who are now my friends because of our involvement with the Farmers Federation.”
The Lassiters raise beef cattle, hay and timber on their farm near the Cullomburg community where Jeff grew up. Cheryl was raised in the nearby community of Toxey. They’ve been married 35 years and have a special love for cattle and wildlife that’s been passed on to their three daughters who grew up attending Federation events.
“The Federation Commodity Conference was our vacation every year,” Cheryl said, laughing. “Our girls went to every conference with us until they were grown. I think being raised on a farm and involvement with the Federation had a positive impact on them. All three of them are involved in agriculture now.”
Their daughter, Jada, and her husband, Kenley Harrison, have a farm where they are raising two of the Lassiters’ five grandchildren. Another daughter, Jena Perry, a mother of three, is a local ag teacher. Their youngest daughter, Kellee, is a county Extension agent in Mississippi.
“We’re very proud that our daughters are involved in agriculture,” Cheryl said. “Growing up on a farm has taught them responsibility, values and what it’s like to be their own boss. What I like most about farming is that you feel like you’re doing something for other people. Producing food is a pretty important job when you think about it.”
Sharing her passion for agriculture with others and inspiring more Federation members to be outspoken advocates for agriculture are among the goals Cheryl has set for her tenure as chairman.
“I also want to get more young women involved in the Women’s Leadership Committee,” she said. “And, I especially want to increase participation in Ag In The Classroom. It’s one of the best programs anywhere.”
Cheryl follows a long line of distinguished leaders who served as chairman of the State Women’s Leadership Committee, said Federation Women’s Leadership Division Director Kim Ramsey.
“The Women’s Division is excited to have Cheryl as our chairman for 2015,” Ramsey added. “Her dedication and love for agriculture, along with her sweet and genuine spirit, are some of the qualities that make her a natural-born leader. Our State Women’s Leadership Committee and women across the state are looking forward to her direction this year.”
Cheryl said Women’s Leadership Committees were formed to be an “arm” of the Federation, but to her, they’re more like the “legs.”
“Members of the Women’s Leadership Committee do the running around, from collecting pop tabs to distributing information on Farm-City events and Ag in the Classroom,” she said. “We organize Ag Days and Farm Safety Days, help with customer appreciation days at Alfa service centers and help organize county Federation events. Women do the behind-the-scenes work to promote agriculture.”
In addition to the satisfaction she gets from promoting agriculture, Cheryl said friendships she’s made over the years, particularly with other members of the State Women’s Leadership Committee, are extra special.
“I really enjoy being part of the state Women’s Leadership Committee,” she said. “We all work together well and genuinely care about each other. We’re like sisters. Kim Ramsey is the most organized person I know and makes our jobs so much easier. She is truly a gem.”