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Farmers Federation awards scholarships

By Mark Rogers

The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Farmers Federation awarded five scholarships to area students at its annual meeting last Thursday.

A large crowd was on hand despite the threat of severe storms as the group gathered at the Southern Sportsman’s Lodge in Tyler. The recipients for this year’s scholarships include Brandon Butts of Prattville High School (a Hayneville resident), who received $1,000; Hannah Claire Till of Lowndes Academy, who received $1,000; Rodney Moorer Jr., of Central High School, who received $1,000, Mason McCurdy of Lowndes Academy, who received $1,000 and Laura Jean McCurdy, a current student at Auburn University, who received a $500 scholarship.

The Lowndes County Farmers Federation has awarded dozens of scholarships since 2009 to help students pursue college degrees. The Federation encourages the development of agriculture’s next generation through scholarships and the Young Farmers Program.  The Lowndes County Farmers Federation supports Lowndes County’s $150 million agriculture and forestry industry.

“We really appreciate the families for coming out tonight,” Thomas Ellis, Lowndes County Farmers Federation president, said. “It’s a special night to have the scholarship recipients here. “

The featured speaker for the evening was former Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Jim Byard. Byard, also a former mayor of Prattville, serves Lowndes County as its economic developer on the Lowndes County Economic Development Commission.

Byard addressed the recipients and Farmers Federation members.

“We talk with our children all the time about ‘pulling your own red wagon,’” Byard said. “Our son wants to know everything how’s it’s made, the price of everything, what everybody’s salary is. He’s always concerned about someone else. We tell him that if you don’t pull your own red wagon, you’re always going to be competing with everybody. There is always somebody with a better looking spouse that makes more money that is stronger, better, whatever they can kick a soccer ball farther than you. We always talk to him about pulling your own red wagon and being concerned with yourself.”

Byard then spoke about Lowndes County and being able to work with people like the members of the Farmers Federation.

“Lowndes County is an interesting place,” he said. “You know this because you live here, work here, play here and recreate here. You have three interstate exits and on the average day you have about 30,000 folks up and down the interstate that have an opportunity to stop in Lowndes County. The good thing about those people stopping in Lowndes County is that all you have to do is say, ‘Thank you for shopping here,’ and let them get back on the interstate. You get some sales tax from them stopping. Then we have U.S. 80 that has a lot of tourism. So many people move up and down U.S. 80 from Selma to Montgomery for Civil Rights. The challenge there is capturing some of those sales tax dollars in Lowndes County.”

Byard closed by showing the students and attendees a coin with the letter B on one side and D on the other.

“The D is so you ‘Do something to raise the bar,’” he said. “The B is to ‘Be present in the moment.’ Try to get people to smile in the moment and try to do something to raise the bar.”