Alabama’s top young farm families in 13 commodity divisions were recognized Feb. 1 at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Young Farmers Leadership Conference in Birmingham. More than 300 farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 attended the annual conference, which is designed to foster leadership skills among young agricultural producers.Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) division winners included: Barry and Christy Etheridge of Escambia County, bee and honey; Mike and Shannon Dee of Pickens County, beef; Travis and Keisha Wilson of Dallas County, catfish; Jay and Julia Anne Minter of Dallas County, cotton; Will Gilmer of Lamar County, dairy; Larry and Suellen Gibson of Pickens County, forestry; Lance and Dana Byrd of Shelby County, greenhouse, nursery and sod; Jay and Alison Cornelius of Lauderdale County, meat goat and sheep; Darrin and Amanda Driskell of Mobile County, peanuts; Bill and Melissa Walding of Dale County, poultry; Jessie and Amanda Hobbs of Limestone County, soybeans; Chad and Marie Henderson of Limestone County, wheat and feed grains; and Joe and Amy Mathis of Bibb County, wildlife.Each division winner received a plaque and a $200 cash award. The division winners also will serve on their respective state commodity committees during 2003. From the 13 commodity winners, the judges selected six finalists to compete for the title of overall 2003 Outstanding Young Farm Family. The finalists were Mike and Shannon Dee, Jay and Julia Anne Minter, Larry and Suellen Gibson, Lance and Dana Byrd, Darrin and Amanda Driskell and Chad and Marie Henderson. The overall winner will be announced this December at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s annual meeting in Mobile.”We had a great group of entrants in 13 commodity divisions,” said State Young Farmers Chairman Jeannie Bragg Harvey. “It was a bold group that put their best foot forward following a year of high hopes dashed by weather,” she added. “We have a strong, competitive final six. The OYFF program in December will certainly highlight bright spots among Alabama’s young farmers.”During the weekend conference, young farmers participated in workshops on a variety of topics including commodity hedging, estate planning and business organization.Speakers included Alfa Farmers President Jerry Newby, 2002 Outstanding Young Farm Family David and Wendy Rogers, 1988 Outstanding Young Farm Family Hank and Dianne Gaines, State FFA President Christopher Randolph, Miss Alabama Agriculture Melissa McCord, Pete McCoy of Freedom Forums, commodity hedge consultant Glen Arnold, attorney Mitch Henry and Julie Feagin and Alicia Clavell of Southern Living magazine.
Outstanding Young Farm Families Honored