This past weekend I attended the 2015 Young Farmers of Alabama Conference held in Montgomery, Alabama. This conference is a great way for young farmers across Alabama to come together and learn more about agriculture. It is also when the three finalists of the Outstanding Young Farming Family are decided and announced at the final dinner.
The night started off with a great buffet style dinner, consisting of fried catfish with a side of cole slaw. What could possibly be more southern than that?! There is possibly only one thing, a room full of 250 farmers, agriculture advocates and also a few agriculture scientists. As we ate dinner, the president of the Alabama Farmers Federation, Jimmy Parnell, answered various questions the crowd had. After dinner it was time to hit the hay (pun intended), so that we could wake up in time for the delicious breakfast and attend the first keynote address of the day. The morning keynote was given by Matthew Lohr, who is from Virginia and been a farmer for many years. He gave a truly inspiring story of his late wife’s battle with cancer. From what I could tell, she was an extraordinary woman.
After the morning keynote, it was time for the workshops. There were three workshops throughout the day that we attended. Each time slot had two options to choose from. In the first workshop I went to, a panel of scientists discussed how to stop the spread of misleading articles about agriculture in social media. For the second workshop, I chose to go to Matthew Lohr’s, which was a very good decision. He spoke about how to be better advocates for agriculture. In order for us to get to know one another better he used a unique “icebreaker,” by which we had a to tell another person what our most embarrassing moment. There were some very interesting stories. Lunch was then served and the keynote speaker then was Jolene Brown. She and her husband own a farm in Iowa, and she spoke about her adventures in the jungle. Later that day, she spoke about “The Top Ten Mistakes That Break Up A Family Business” in her workshop.
The day was concluded with the banquet along with an auction to benefit the Alabama Agriculture Foundation. The top three finalists for OYFF were announced this night also. This conference has definitely been one of my favorites.