MACON, Ga. — Jacob and Emily Nolan of Wayne County, Dr. Ashley Yopp of Tift County and Melissa Mathis of Monroe County are the winners of the three Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) competitive events. All of the events were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nolans won the 2020 YF&R Achievement Award, given to recognize young farmers who derive their earnings primarily from production agriculture. As the state winners, the Nolans will receive $500 and a farm sign sponsored by AgSouth Farm Credit and a John Deere ATV with trailer sponsored by Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance. The Nolans advance to compete for the 2021 American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Achievement Award. The Nolans operate a diversified farm that includes cotton, peanuts, wheat, corn, cattle, pecans, fruit and timber.
Mathew and Chelsea Bohannon of Stephens County and Steven and Tara Green of Spalding County were finalists for the Achievement Award. Each couple received $500 sponsored by AgSouth Farm Credit. Both the Bohannons and Greens raise broilers and cattle.
Yopp, an assistant professor of agricultural leadership, education and communications at UGA’s Tifton Campus, won the GFB 2020 YF&R Discussion Meet, which is designed to mimic a committee meeting in which individuals seek solutions to specific issues. Yopp engaged in discussion with Newt Gilman of Jackson County, Sarah Nerswick of North Fulton County and Willie Sizemore of Lee County in the Final Four round held via Zoom on Oct. 15. The four finalists addressed the question of how the vibrancy and economic sustainability of rural communities could be enhanced.
Yopp won the top prize of $500 and a John Deere two-seat ATV with trailer, sponsored by Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance and advances to compete in the 2021 AFBF Discussion Meet. The three runners-up received $350 cash courtesy of Georgia Farm Bureau. Sizemore was the top collegiate finisher in the discussion meet and advances to the AFBF Collegiate Discussion Meet, to be held in March at the AFBF YF&R Conference in Portland, Oregon.
Mathis, the Monroe County Farm Bureau vice president, won the competition for the YF&R Excellence in Agriculture Award, which recognizes ag professionals – who earn most of their income from off-farm jobs – for their Farm Bureau involvement and ag advocacy efforts. She operates three farm/feed stores and is an active ag advocate in her community.
Mathis and fellow finalists Jesse Patrick of Putnam County and Ashley White of North Fulton County gave their presentations for judges via Zoom on Oct. 1. As the state winner, Mathis receives a $500 award and a two-seat John Deere ATV with trailer sponsored by Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance. She advances to compete in the 2021 AFBF Excellence in Agriculture competition. Patrick and White each receive $500 cash sponsored by Georgia Farm Bureau. Patrick runs a dairy equipment sales and services business with his father. White is an ag education teacher.
As the Nolans, Yopp and Mathis compete for national honors in their respective 2021 American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Achievement, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture contests, they will contend for the following prizes. The national winners of each contest will win a new Ford vehicle (up to a value of $35,000) and paid registration to the Farm Bureau FUSION Conference in Portland, Oregon, courtesy of Ford. The national second -place winner of each contest receives a Case IH Farmall 50A, courtesy of Case IH. The national third place winner of each contest earns a Case IH 40” combination roll cabinet & top chest and $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH, a $2,500 Investing in Your Future cash prize, courtesy of American Farm Bureau Insurance Services, Inc. (AFBIS) plus $1,850 worth of Stanley Black & Decker merchandise (PROTO, DeWalt, Stanley, Lenox & Irwin), courtesy of Stanley Black & Decker. The national fourth place winners get a Case IH 40” combination roll cabinet & top chest and a $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH.
–Georgia Farm Bureau