The Buzz About the Honey Bee Population

Many people hear, nowadays, that the honey bee population is decreasing from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the use of chemicals from agricultural practices and many other reasons. This is fake news. Guess what…..it’s actually increasing!

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So why do we even care about the honey bee population?

For the full story on Storify, click here.

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A Blessing All the Way Around

Well, it’s been awhile since I have made a post, so I figured it was time. A lot has happened in the last few months. First off, I finished my second year at Troy, which was definitely bittersweet. Then, in the beginning of August, I moved to Auburn and began my degree in Agricultural Communications.

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Comer Hall, built in 1910, houses the College of Agriculture at Auburn University. There are currently 1,430 students enrolled as AG majors at Auburn, which is a record for the college.

 

Moving to Auburn has certainly changed my life in more ways than one. I left a place where I had been surrounded by family my entire life, so I figured it would be difficult to adjust living away from home. I was excited for the adventure nonetheless. Little did I know I would become a part of another family so quickly. A family not connected through blood, but a spirit, the Auburn Spirit. Now Auburn is just as much of a home as Ramer is. Both will always be.

As far as classes are going, it’s the same old story. There is the glorious syllabus day, then material and then a test. However, it’s truly an awesome feeling to be sitting in a classroom learning how to better communicate agriculture to others, and learning how to plant vegetables. Some would say it’s senseless to think like this, but I would have to say it’s a blessing all the way around. Because, those classes aren’t only about planting vegetables and talking about cows, they are about preparing. Preparing for our future. This future holds more mouths to feed and a constant battle for advocates to promote the importance agriculture has to our existence.

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“Tigertron,” otherwise known as the largest video-scoreboard in college football, made its debut during Auburn’s first home game on Sept. 12.

Nearly everyday, there is a new finding to witch fingers are pointed at the world’s largest industry to prove that parts of it are “bad.” From antibiotics in meat to genetically modified corn, we’ve heard it all. I feel that God has meticulously placed each person in the College of AG, so they can prove these findings incorrect. We will not give up; we simply have to take it one step at the time.

As I sit among my peers, I know without a doubt, the future of the agricultural industry is bright.

War Eagle, Hey…

Ready… Set… COOK!

This past weekend I covered the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America Culinary Arts Competition in Birmingham. The event was held at Virginia College’s Culinary Institute, known as Culinard. Thirteen high school teams from around the state of Alabama competed for more than 115,000 dollars in scholarships and prizes.

The day was filled with much excitement from participants and even a few spectators. I, for one, was amazed at the precision of each team and how they cooked their meals with such focus. I have never been to any event quite like this one. It was very much like the famous television show on the Food channel, Iron Chef.

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The “gold” winning team, from Huntsville Center for Technology, preparing to go into battle at the 2015 FCCLA Culinary Arts Competition.

Huntsville Center for Technology ended up taking home the “gold” prize, which doesn’t happen every competition. In order to have “gold” status the team must score 90 or more. They did it! They were extremely excited to have their school called out as the winning team. The team was also given a complete knife set made by Mercer Cutlery, a gift card to use at local Birmingham restaurants, and all schools that took part in the event received two culinary books. Just two years ago, there was roughly $25,000 in scholarship money awarded. That figure has more than tripled in the past two years.

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The fantastic apple trifle dessert made by the HCT team.

All teams were required to prepare breast of chicken with a mustard cream sauce with sautéed broccoli and rice pilaf. For dessert they prepared an apple trifle. HCT took it a step further and actually made their on caramel sauce and drizzled it atop the dessert. No other team did this for their dessert.

Each dish had it’s own appeal to it. No dish was exactly the same, because students with all kinds of artistic abilities prepared them. All of the dishes were lined up, in front of each school’s name, so they could be viewed

This was the first event that I covered by myself, so I had to shoot enough photos and acquire enough information in order to write an article about it. I wrote my very first article, ever, about this event. I am very proud to have had the privilege to do so.

Until next time…

Young Farmers Meet in Montgomery for Annual Conference

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.

“Hot” Humidity Makes a Great Day for a Tour

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Cotton blossoms just beginning to bloom at one of the experiment station’s several cotton fields.

Towards the end of the month of August, 2014, a much warmer month than the present one, Mrs. Davis and I made yet another trip. This time our destination was to the Crops Field Day in Headland, Alabama at Auburn University’s Experiment Station. Headland is located just north of Dothan in the southern part of Alabama. Although the day was definitely warm, the humidity was not at all pleasant. Because it was so humid, my camera lens immediately began to fog up as soon as I got it out of my camera bag. This was an annoyance, because it was several minutes before I was able to shoot photographs of the tour.

This Auburn experiment station performs research on various crops, soil and different planting strategies throughout the year. Much of the research at the facility was being performed on peanuts, cotton and sesame seeds. Several rows of peanuts were planted in what is known as a “twin row,” which is two rows of peanuts planted very close together. This is done to see whether water is conserved since both of the rows are almost on top of each other. There were also many acres of cotton that had been planted around the station.

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A tour group listening intently to a scientist from Auburn University.

Tours were set up in the fields for persons attending. Scientists form Auburn University discussed plant production, how to control diseases, sesame seed production and ways to produce more peanuts. Every tour was different and had some very interesting information. I learned that if you are a peanut farmer, you could possibly rotate it with sesame.

Along with all the interesting information, we also came home with several great looking photos. The cotton had just started to bloom, which was quite a sight to see. The blossoms consisted of deep shades of pink to white. Each was unique in its own way. The sesame was fascinating, because I had never seen it planted before. There were very small orange/yellow blossoms on almost every plant.

We ended up having a great time on that warm August day. Information was shared, photos were taken and all had fun!

To view more blogs, please click here or here.

 

Dogs, or Cats, Are Where It’s at!

Having an animal as a pet is not only beneficial for the person, or family that owns the pet; it can also be beneficial to the pet itself. I believe that every person or family should own at least one animal as a pet.

Growing up in the rural, southern part of Alabama, there have been many animals that have lived in the backyard of the Hicks household, even a few inside. Several dogs, chickens, turtles, fish, hermit crabs, and even rabbits had established their lives at my house throughout the years. Animals can be a wonderful way to teach, not only children, but adults also, how to care for them. Everyone can learn how caring for animals is important and can impact their lives. They can teach you extremely valuable lessons. Children can learn responsibilities as to feeding and providing the animals with food and water, cleaning out the cage or area the animal lives in, and even the emotion of love.

Each type of animal has different need. For example, a dog or cat needs to have stimulation (play time) in order to release pint up energy, where as a hermit crab simply needs a rock to climb on. I currently have one dog, one rabbit and a few saltwater fish. Having these animals has been a great experience, but each one requires special care. The saltwater fish require many hours of work and also time to keep them and the tank up to par, so they can grow and thrive. I once had a rooster, who lived for almost seven years. He wasn’t the nicest rooster in the world, but he earned his keep “cockle doo a doing” throughout his life.

Animals can also be a great way for one to just get outside and enjoy some time in the sun. The spring months are always exciting, because the weather is usually great and that means the dog walks shall commence! Walking your dog can be great exercise, which I certainly could use more of. There can be many health benefits to owning a pet.

There are thousands of animals that can make great pets, so your choices are certainly not limited. I believe every person should be able to experience pets and all of their “awesomeness” that comes with them.

Until next time…

Planting the Seed in Society

Hello world! My name is Caleb Hicks. I’m from the tiny town of Dublin, Alabama, and am truly blessed that I was raised in such a great place. God and family are two very important aspects in my life. I am fortunate enough to live close to most of my family, and that has impacted me in unimaginable ways.

I am currently studying at Troy University and majoring in multimedia journalism. When I first arrived at Troy, I was completely lost as far as a decision on my major. I chose to take a beginning journalism course, during my first semester, and I was hooked.

Journalism is just one of the things that I am truly passionate about. Another is having an agriculture background, from both sides of my family. Agriculture is one of the largest industries in the world. Without it, we would have immense food shortages. As I said before, agriculture runs deep on both sides of my family. Both of my grandfathers were, and still are, heavily involved within the industry. I am also involved with the Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA) in the Young Farmers program.

In this blog I will discuss agriculture in my life and also how it affects the rest of the world, but I will be doing this from a journalistic aspect. I will be posting to this blog at least once a week, so watch out!

I would like for everyone to see that agriculture is an important piece of our society, and how it affects us as a civilization. I hope you enjoy these posts and possibly even learn a thing or two. If you would like to discuss or comment on any of these subjects, please feel free to do so. I look forward to many postings and even some discussions.

Until next time.