By Betsy Finklea
State Farm Bureau President Harry Ott was the guest speaker at the annual Farm-City Week awards luncheon held at the City of Dillon Wellness Center.
The program began with a welcome from Wes Daniels of the Farm Service Agency. The pledge of allegiance was led by Grady Sampson of Clemson Extension Service. Barbara Causey sang the national anthem followed by the invocation by Rev. Dean Parker of Union Baptist Church. A hot dog luncheon was served. After lunch and the presentation of door prizes, Cullen Bryant introduced Ott.
Ott said he would like to thank everyone who came out to celebrate Farm-City Week. He said Farm Bureau does more than sell insurance–they are the voice of agriculture. He said they tell the story of the life of the farmer every day.
Ott said the one percent of the population on the farm feeds the rest of the 99 percent of the population. He said farmers want happy customers, but there is a great deal of miscommunication and confusion. He said they must re-engage in the telling of the story of agriculture. He said that the public is two generations removed from the farm.
Ott said today we live in a “pre-packaged” society, and people don’t think about where their food comes from. He gave an example of a child who gets a hamburger from a fast food restaurant. He said the child doesn’t make the connection between the bun and wheat farmer or the cow and hamburger patty.
Octobers the past couple of years have not been good for farmers. Last year, the 1,000 year flood struck, and this year, the area was hit by Hurricane Matthew. Ott said when events like these occur, they must go to the legislature for help in agriculture. When the one percent goes for help and the 99 percent doesn’t think agriculture is important, it causes problems.
Orr said there is only three days worth of food in New York City. He said where their food comes from is important.
Ott spoke of some of the challenges facing agriculture, and some of the problems caused by misinformation on the internet. One of the challenges is food safety. He said the United States has the safest and most affordable food in the world. Another challenge is farm labor and where it is going to come from. Other issues are water use and where farmers can locate things on their own private property.
Ott said we must soon decide whether we want our food grown in this country or somewhere else. “Will we produce our food and feed our citizens or become dependent on another country to grown and sell it to us?” asked Ott.
Ott said if the 99 percent is re-engaged then the future of agriculture is bright. He asked those in attendance to support the industry that produces the food and fiber we are dependent on every day.
The presentation of awards took place. The winners of the Farm-City Week Outstanding Student awards, which were presented by Leary McKenzie, Dillon Kiwanis Club President, were:
Zachary Tyler Norris, Dillon County Technology Center – His nomination form stated, “Zachary exemplifies a can do attitude, he’s optimistic, and has a precise vision about his future. Zachary has maintained an overall GPA of 4.2 at Dillon High School. He can be counted on to perform any given talk as a student in the Culinary Arts Program at DCTC. His attendance, attitude, and respect for his peers and his teachers are exceptional. His hobbies are playing football, video games, and cooking. His plans are to attend Johnson & Wales University in the fall of 2017.”
Katelyn Thompson, Dillon Christian School – Her nomination states that Katelyn “is a very well rounded and hardworking senior at Dillon Christian School. Katelyn is commended by her teachers for her aptitudes both academically and spiritually throughout her years at DCS. She has remained on the Headmaster’s Honor Roll for five years which demonstrates her very strong academic skills and abilities which include her dual credit college classes. Perfect attendance for four years is also an indication of Katelyn’s conscientious and reliable character. She has been involved with the Anchor Club and is also a member of the Beta Blub confirming her academic capabilities. Katelyn has played on the basketball and volleyball teams where she exhibited true sportsmanship. In addition to her contributions at school, Katelyn is involved in her church and youth group. She plans to pursue a degree in Agribusiness at Clemson University next fall. Her leadership qualities and abilities, when coupled with her academics and civic volunteerism, made Katelyn a wonderful choice to represent Dillon Christian School this year for the nomination of an Outstanding Student.”
Fallon Adams, Dillon High School – Her nomination states: “Fallon is a senior with a 4.854 GPA with a rank of number four out of a class of 194. Fallon pursues honors and college prep courses while attending Dillon High School. Fallon has pursued the most rigorous courses available to high achieving juniors and seniors as she has completed five college courses offered at Northeastern Technical College and Francis Marion University. Fallon has been an A Honor Roll student each nine weeks, a member of the National Honor Society, a member of the Yearbook Staff, a member of the BETA Club, and Anchor Club currently running for vice president. Fallon also shares her musical talents as she performs with the Dillon High School Chorus. Fallon extends her talents as she serves as a GEAR UP Ambassador and has served on the Dillon High School Black History Program over the years. To further support Fallon’s academic resume, Fallon has achieved an Academic Letter at Dillon High School for all four years.
Fallon is an extremely hard worker. Fallon is conscientious, industrious, dependable, and trustworthy. Fallon goes out of her way to help others. Fallon most recently worked at the Chamber of Commerce event, entitled, “The Taste of Dillon.” She has worked with the special needs students at Dillon High School for their Halloween Special Carnival activity. Fallon continues to work for the annual fall festival sponsored by the Junior Charity League. Fallon has volunteered over the years for the father-daughter dance which is an event to support families in the Dillon community. Fallon earns additional community hours through Dillon High School’s American Red Cross Blood Drive. Fallon serves as a leader as she helps to facilitate the blood drives.
Fallon extends her volunteering services through her church and community youth group. Church projects include Operation Christmas Child, Judgment House, and mission’s meals while raising funds for youth missionary church trips. Additionally, Fallon offered her dedication to the Relay for Life mission to support cancer survivors and cancer patients. Fallon has dedicated her charity work to visiting area nursing homes during the Christmas season, and to charity to support our American Soldiers who are overseas defending their country during the Christmas season. Furthermore, Fallon participated in the Pregnancy Crisis Center fundraiser to help provide resources and support for young teen moms. Fallon offers her commitment of volunteering with the Community Health Drives for Dillon County communities.”
DeAnna Williams, Latta High School – The nomination states that DeAnna has been a member of the Future Farmers of America chapter since ninth grade; “DeAnna is certainly a key member of the Latta High School Chapter of the Future Farmers or America. During DeAnna’s high school career, she has also been a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Viking Band Color Guard, and the National Honor Society. In addition, she is also active with her church youth group and helps with Children’s Church. She enjoys helping others. DeAnna also works part-time. She is an amazing young person.”
Avery Hatcher, Lake View High School – The nomination says that Avery “is a senior at Lake View High School. He has been a dedicated FFA member for four years, acting as Chapter Secretary his junior year and presides as FFA Chapter President this year. Avery has participated in three C.O.W. workshops and has attended two FFA State Conventions. This past summer he participated in the FFA Leadership Camp where he won the Blue Team Cooperative Spirit Award. Avery has competed in several CDE’s including Tractor Driving, Tool Identification, and most recently Land Judging, where he was awarded as the Second Highest Individual Scorer. He holds the Greenhand, Chapter, and State Degrees and has been honored with Highest Average Awards for Nursery/Garden Technology and Ornamental Horticulture his sophomore and junior years respectively.”
The Business of the Year was presented by McKenzie to Morrell Tire Service. Richard Morrell accepted the award. The nomination states: “Morrell Tire Service, located on Highway 301 South in Latta, is a family-owned business established in 1974 by Clyde and Sammy Morrell. The business is currently owned by Richard Morrell and employs 10 people, including sons, Austin and Chandler Morrell. Providing services for farmers and other agriculture-related businesses has always been the backbone of the company. Two service trucks are available to assist farmers and truckers within a 100-mile radius of Latta. Morrell Tire Company offers their customers knowledgeable assistance on their selection of leading tire brands, considering what best meets the needs of their vehicle and budget. Customer satisfaction is always a priority at Morrell Tire Company.”
The Farmer of the Year was presented to Daniel Stephens. The award was presented by Wes Daniels. Daniels gave the following background: “Daniel Stephens has been a farmer since he was old enough to ‘almost’ walk, yes, that young. Just to show how much farming is in his blood, he had a blanket and pillow with snacks and everything in the combine beside Mr. T.C., and his mom had to drag him off the combine or tractor every night. Daniel also never stayed at home on Saturday to watch cartoons; he was out in the fields before his parents woke up. Even at age six and seven he was moving tobacco around on the warehouse floor over in Fairmont.
Daniel also had a special relationship with Mr. M.F. Ivey; Mr. Ivey would bring him toy tractors when he would come to the farms, and most kids would play outside in the dirt with these, but not Daniel, he was not going to let them get dirty. He would line them up on the carpet in the house and act like he was planting, then spraying, then picking, and then taking them to the market.
For most of you that know Daniel and his family, we can all say one of his biggest influences was his grandfather, Mr. Danny Nance. The art of leaving family farms in the family is almost obsolete nowadays, and I believe Mr. Nance can sit here today knowing his life’s work is going to be in great hands for years to come.
Daniel started working full-time on the farm when he graduated from Lake View High School in 2004. He started his own farming operation in 2013. Daniel plants approximately 425 acres of wheat, corn, and soybeans. He is a member of the Young Farmer Association Chapter of Lake View.
Daniel is not only a farmer; he loves his community of Lake View and Dillon County. He has been an EMS driver, is a volunteer firefighter for the Lake View Fire Department and was elected captain a few years ago, and he is a part of many other organizations. In his spare time, Daniel likes deep sea fishing.”
Members of the Farm-City Committee are: Chairpersons – Mrs. Johnnie Luehrs, Dillon County Chamber of Commerce; Mr. Wes Daniels, Farm Service Agency. Committee – Mr. Grady Sampson, Clemson Extension Service; Mrs. Ashley Webster, Sloan Wealth Management; Mr. Timothy Smith, S.C. Farm Bureau; Mrs. Lisa Miller, Dillon County Economic Development; Mr. Cullen Bryant, Chamber Member/Farmer; Mrs. Mandy Hayes, Dillon District Four; Mr. Lonnie Turner and Mr. Leary McKenzie, Dillon Kiwanis; and, The Dillon Herald.
By Betsy Finklea