By Sid Riley
350 Farm Bureau Members, Families, and Guests Enjoy a Great Annual Event
Foot stompin’ bluegrass music filled the auditorium in the Ag Center on Penn Avenue in Marianna on Thursday evening as approximately 350 Farm Bureau members, families, and guests filled the chamber to share a great evening together. A great meal which was cooked by the Farm Bureau Executives, with grilled pork chops, green beans, baked potato, and delicious Amos Morris style banana pudding was consumed while the talented musical group "Wiregrass" filled the air with ole time music, played and sung in a style reminiscent of the early farm days of our county.
All of this set the stage for a program that recognized this years’ farm family of the year, gave special awards, conducted a little Farm Bureau members business, and featured a presentation by a remarkable young lady from Jackson County, Carly Barnes.
Farm Bureau President Jeff Pittman opened the evening by officially welcoming the attendees to the event, recognizing special guests, and leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Next, Jeff Crawford presented the treasure’s report for the Association. Kenneth Stoutamire, Local Farm Bureau Insurance Representative discussed the impending hurricanes, and assured the membership that if a severe storm does strike in our area, "Farm Bureau Will Be There For You".
Ed Jowers had the honor of announcing and introducing the "Farm Family of the Year", which was the Charles Patrick family who farm approximately 900 acres in the Northeastern portion of Jackson County. Charles Patrick and his wife Mary have been married for fifty-four years, and have a son Greg and a daughter, Joy. Their farm has been in the Patrick family for over 100 years. In his introduction, Ed Jowers described the modern approaches to farming utilized by their farm, including GPS alignment for cultivation and planting. The Patricks were presented their award and special gifts by Ed Jowers, Ken Stoutamire, and Jeff Pittman.
Following this presentation, Jeff Pittman and Leland Thomas gave a special award of recognition from the Farm Bureau to Ed Jowers for being so instrumental in the construction of the new, centralized $30,000,000 Agricultural Center. His leadership and hard work during his tenure as County Agent has significantly advanced the Jackson County agricultural community.
Also recognized at this time was Ed’s Administrative Assistant, Barbara Pledger, who has been with the Farm Bureau for 33 years. "She is the real secret to any success we have had", stated Jowers.
Next a beautiful young lady wearing a FFA jacket stepped to the microphone. This outstanding product of Malone High School is the daughter of Rick and Susan Barnes, Carly Barnes. She was dual enrolled and simultaneously graduated earlier this year from Malone High School and Chipola College, with her AA degree. At the State FFA Convention in Orlando a few months ago she was elected to the position of State Vice President, which is a very high and prestigious position within the FFA organization. She is now busy touring Northwest Florida high schools, making speeches, reviewing their FFA programs, and providing assistance as needed. Later in her term she will be part of an international FFA team that will visit farms in China and will coordinate with youth agricultural organizations there.
(She also worked as an intern writer for the Jackson County Times while accomplishing these things last year.)
Carly spoke of the challenges facing the agricultural industry today as they face a variety of difficult factors including global warming, tightening budgets, rising energy costs, and foreign competition. She stated "The farmer is the only businessman who always buys at retail, sells at wholesale, and pays freight in both directions". She stressed the importance of modernization and conservation if the farmer is to succeed in the competitive world of today.
After Carly had won the audience and received a fitting ovation, door prizes were given out, and the crowd went home….with a full stomach, after enjoying a great evening of entertainment, community sharing, talking with friends, and an enhanced sense of belonging.
(Carly is hoping to raise $6000 in donations for her trip to China.)