A self-proclaimed professional volunteer, Jo Ann B. Laney brings a pile of passion to whatever she takes on. That includes her new role as chair of the Alabama Farmers Federation State Women’s Leadership Committee.
Laney was elected chair during the Federation’s 97th annual meeting in Montgomery Dec. 3. Her Federation connection dates back 47 years to when she and husband Larry tied the knot and settled down near his boyhood home in Russell County’s Crawford community.
“I’m excited about the year ahead and honored to have this opportunity to serve as chair,” said Laney. “I love farming and agriculture, and I love the Federation. I grew up in a military family, so I lived in several places around the country. Larry was born and raised here, and his mom and dad were always involved in the Federation. Even though I worked most of the time since we’ve been married, I followed my mother-in-law, JoAnne C. Laney, to lots of annual Women’s Leadership Conferences and to different contests and Federation meetings. It just became part of who I am.”
Those trips and other involvement with the Federation eventually led Laney to leadership roles. In addition to serving on the Russell County Farmers Federation board of directors, she is secretary-treasurer of the group and is the county’s Women’s Leadership Committee chair. Her one-year term as state committee chair includes serving as an ex-officio member of the Federation’s state board of directors.
Federation Women’s Leadership Division Director Kim Earwood said 2019 is sure to be an exciting year with Laney leading the way.
“Jo Ann and the other state committee members are dedicated to promoting agriculture and providing educational programs across Alabama,” Earwood said.
Laney began advocating for agriculture before retiring from W.C. Bradley Co. in 2007. Her husband is a retired educator, and they love farm life — particularly horses and cattle.
The couple run a successful horse boarding business, with many clients who are military families from nearby Fort Benning, Georgia. They also have a herd of beef cattle and sell hay to cattlemen and equestrians.
“As chair of the Women’s Leadership Committee, I want to see county committees across the state grow and become more active,” Laney said. “It is a great organization, and we work on behalf of the best people in the world — farmers!”
Laney has a busy volunteer calendar. She is president of the Russell County Cattlemen’s Association and helps with the county’s annual special needs rodeo. She is an active member of the Crawford Community Park Committee, which restored an old Masonic lodge, transforming it into a community center and building a park for area children.
“The community park really is something our community is proud of,” she said. “It has a quarter-mile walking trail and hosts market days where vegetables and crafts are sold. It’s sort of like an old-timey meeting spot for people to gather.”
Laney’s favorite hobbies are using her embroidery machine and caring for a flock of fancy chickens that produce enough eggs to share with friends.
Most of all, she loves spending time with her family. That includes a tradition of Sunday dinner at home with their sons, Joshua and Nathan, their daughters in-law and four grandchildren.