July 2, 2013
Young farmers from across the state honed leadership skills and toured farms and factories during the Agricultural Leaders for Alabama (A.L.F.A.) meeting in north Alabama June 25-27.
The two-year program develops young farmers personally and professionally so they can be better leaders in their communities and the Alabama Farmers Federation.
North Alabama community leaders addressed the class during the fourth meeting of the eight-session A.L.F.A. Leaders program.
Cleburne County farmer Eric Lovvorn said he enjoyed hearing from past program graduates Will Ainsworth and State Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Red Hill. "People of that stature, we can look up to and see what we may want to do in the future," he said.
"Being around positive people helps me see how a positive attitude can further my community and the people around me."
The training sessions started Tuesday, June 25, at Ainsworth's Guntersville hunting lodge, Dream Ranch, with talks from A.LF.A. Leader graduate, Marshall County farmer and Douglas Mayor Corey Hill; Guntersville City Councilman George Gillen; and Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau Interim Director Lindsey King.
The second, non-stop day of tours featured visits to a poultry processing plant; Cargill; Mickey Childers's dairy farm; laying houses operated by Cullman County farmer and current A.L.F.A. Leader Lee Haynes; and Jeremy Calvert's Cullman County fruit and vegetable operation.
"On the tours, we get to see the farms of folks we already know and see how they operate," said Montgomery County farmer Garrett Henry.
"Plus, I've seen things I would never otherwise see, like the poultry processing plant. That and being with a good group of folks from across the state are the parts I'll remember the most."
The day ended with dinner at Stone Bridge Farm, owned by Cullman County's Ron and Sarah Foust. Lovvorn said he plans to apply lessons from A.L.F.A. Leaders to his own community. "This program has been one of the best experiences of my life," Lovvorn said.
"I've made friends throughout the state who I'll never forget and who I'll always be able to call on. If anyone else in the future has a chance to be in this program, they should definitely do it.
" The third class of A.L.F.A. Leaders are Justin Barrett, Elmore County; Jeremy Brown, Montgomery County; Grant Buck, Sumter County; Zach Burns, Marshall County; Hope Cassebaum, Baldwin County; Allie Corcoran, Barbour County; Nick Gibbs, Etowah County; Lee Haynes, Cullman County; Garrett Henry, Montgomery County; Shawn Keel, Calhoun County; Eric Lovvorn, Cleburne County; Clint McElmoyl, DeKalb County; Jay and Abby Stewart, Clay County; Josh Turner, DeKalb County; and Colin Wilson of Jackson County.
Program details are also available online at http://www.alfafarmers.org/programs/alfa_leaders.phtml.
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