Gloria Jeffcoat, retired teacher and 2016 Farm-City Volunteer of the Year, is passionate about youth education in agriculture.
“With each generation becoming further removed from the farm, it’s important to educate urban youth on where their food comes from,” Jeffcoat said.
Jeffcoat remembers students telling her that none of them had ever touched a horse.
“I just had to do something about that,” Jeffcoat said. “So, I told my husband, and we arranged for a pony we had at the farm to be brought to the school. All the children got to meet him.”
Since its beginning in 1955, the goal of Farm-City has been to strengthen the relationship between rural farmers and urban workers. Farm-City committees promote educational events, farm tours and youth poster, essay and multimedia contests to provide urban America with first-hand information on food production.
Jeffcoat delivers coloring books, poster and essay materials to Houston County’s 29 schools.
The personal touch of hand-delivering poster and essay materials fosters a relationship among the schools, the Federation and the Farm-City Committee, Jeffcoat said..
She said the key to Farm-City success is to identify the passions of people in the community and fit them into the project.
“My passion is the children, but there are other areas of Farm-City where volunteers with expertise in those areas can contribute greatly,” Jeffcoat said.
Volunteers from the 2016 Best Farm-City Committee Division I winner, Cullman County, donated 8,000 pounds of potatoes to local food banks by collaborating with high school students and the urban community.
“Our volunteers are the kind of people who love helping others,” said Lesia Van Gundy, Cullman County Farm-City chairman. “Our farmers purposefully plant extra so they’ll have something to donate.”
Pike County Farm-City Chairman Randy Hale said connecting with members of other community organizations made Pike County successful as the 2016 Best Farm-City Committee Division II winner.
By reaching out to the Troy Rotary Club, the Pike County Farm-City Committee engaged with international students attending Troy University.
The Troy Rotary Club invited Farm-City Committee members to a luncheon where they were able to educate students from China, India, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Korea, Nigeria, France, Britain and Germany on food and fiber production in the United States.
“Knowing what assets you have in your community and working with other organizations really moves the project forward,” Hale said. “It’s better when you can come together with the people from other organizations to reach a common goal.”
For more information on becoming a Farm-City volunteer, contact your county’s Farm-City Committee or visit alabamafarmcity.org.