News Legendary Leaders Honored for Service to Agriculture

Legendary Leaders Honored for Service to Agriculture

Legendary Leaders Honored for Service to Agriculture
April 2, 2024 |

By Marlee Jackson

Five legendary leaders were honored for their impact on Alabama agriculture Feb. 13 in Auburn. Hollis Isbell, Don Ball and Bill Stallworth were inducted into the Alabama Agriculture Hall of Honor, while families of the late Mark Nichols and Wade Skidmore accepted Pioneer Awards. 

Auburn University Agricultural Alumni Club President Brian Hardin hailed the honorees and their families. The club organizes the annual awards banquet. 

“It’s our honor to recognize these five men for strengthening Alabama agriculture,” said Hardin, also the Alabama Farmers Federation External Affairs Department director. “Speaking with them and their families is a highlight of my year. They are humble, generous people who have made this state and its people better.”

The Hall of Honor was established in 1984. Isbell, Ball and Stallworth join 118 prior inductees.

Isbell of Colbert County is a cotton farmer, nationally known agriculture advocate and this year’s production category honoree. Key contributions to agriculture include supporting the Boll Weevil Eradication Program, which saved Southern fiber production; being at the forefront of irrigation investments in the Tennessee Valley; and establishing two cotton gins and warehouses. Isbell’s past leadership positions include chairing the American Cotton Producers, the Alabama Cotton Commission and the Federation’s State Cotton Committee.

Emceeing the program was the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Brian Hardin (also the Auburn University Ag Alumni Club president).

Ball was honored for work in education and government. A forage expert, Ball impacted countless farmers over his 35-year career as an Alabama Cooperative Extension System agronomist. The Kentucky native co-authored “Southern Forages,” still considered the most important practical forage resource after 31 years in publication. There are more than 50,000 acres of his registered Russell bermudagrass across the Southeast. 

Stallworth of Monroe County was inducted in the agribusiness category. Stallworth founded The Buffalo Co., a large agricultural brokerage firm that impacted livestock and poultry industries across six Southeastern states. Known for his generosity, Stallworth has funded scholarships at three colleges and helped create AU’s Ag International Program, which facilitates global travel for students majoring in agriculture. 

During the banquet, posthumous Pioneer Awards honored Nichols and Skidmore. Fifty-seven Pioneer Awards have been presented since 1996. 

Nichols was an early professor in AU’s College of Agriculture. The namesake of the Nichols Terrace, he was a pioneer in soil erosion control. Nichols is known as the father of agricultural engineering at AU.

Skidmore was a Marshall County cattle and poultry farmer lauded for advocacy on behalf of fellow producers. He was past president of the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association and served as a liaison between city residents and farmers in north Alabama. 

View Related Articles