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Award-worthy

Weakley County couple recognized nationally as outstanding young agricultural leaders
Photos and story by Sarah Geyer 5/26/2017

 

Jay and Alice Ann Yeargin of Greenfield, fifth and sixth from left, runners-up for the 2017 American Farm Bureau Federation’s Achievement Award, were congratulated recently by family, friends, and community members during a special celebration held on the Yeargin Farm. Posing in front of the Case IH 620 the couple won and the Case IH 340 they can use for 150 hours are, from left, Tom Womack, deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture; Russ Finley and Tim Mills with Case IH; Jeff Aiken, president of Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation (TFBF); the Yeargins; Gilbert Workman.
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Jay and Alice Ann Yeargin of Greenfield earned national acclaim in January from the American Farm Bureau Federation. As part of the organization’s 2016 annual convention, the couple was named runners-up for the Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Achievement Award. The Yeargins became eligible for the national honor when they were named Tennessee Farm Bureau’s YF&R Young Farmer of the Year winners last July.

The achievement award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation’s growth and financial progress, and their leadership roles with Farm Bureau and other local, state, and national agriculture organizations.

With this honor, Jay and Alice Ann join an impressive group of national winners from Weakley County. Former recipients of the YF&R Achievement Award include Keith and Linda Fowler of Martin in 1998 and Ben and Jennifer Moore of Dresden in 2011. Three Weakley County couples have also been recognized nationally with Farm Bureau’s Excellence in Agriculture Award which recognizes part-time farmers. Those winners include John and Mary Margaret Chester, Martin, 2007; Andy and Ellie Holt, Dresden, 2011; and David and Meghan Corvin, Dresden, runners-up in 2012.

“The Young Farmers and Ranchers program of Tennessee Farm Bureau identifies, develops, and recognizes great leaders across our state,” says Jeff Aiken, president of Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. “Weakley County’s Young Farmer program is an excellent example with their long tradition of 13 state winners and six national winners including runners-up. Farm Bureau is proud to support our next generation of farmers and proud of their current accomplishments and contributions.”

As national runners-up, the couple was awarded a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor courtesy of Case IH, as well as $3,000 in cash from Stihl. As state winners, the couple receives a year’s free use of a brand new Case IH tractor for up to 150 hours. They also won $1,500 and a fully-loaded Polaris Ranger ATV.

Jay and Alice Ann, along with Jay’s parents, Ronnie and Janie, raise corn, soybeans, wheat, and cattle on 5,000 acres in Weakley County. Jay followed in his parents’ footsteps and attended the University of Tennessee Martin where he met Alice Ann, the granddaughter of dairy farmers. After the couple graduated, they joined the family farming operation as the third generation and helped to increased the operation’s acreage and expand the cattle herd to 300 head.

“The Yeargins have a passion for farming and a strong work ethic, and I’m proud that their dedication to our industry has been recognized in this way,” said Thomas Chandler, manager of Weakley Farmers Cooperative, of the third generation Co-op members. “Weakley County is blessed to have many young ag leaders, and the Yeargins are perfect examples of that.”

As dedicated advocates of agriculture, both young Yeargins serve in leadership positions in local and state organizations. The couple is active in the YF&R program, including serving on the Tennessee YF&R State Committee. Alice Ann, a past president of the Weakley County Chamber of Commerce, was named the state’s YF&R Outstanding Young Woman in 2013. Jay holds several leadership positions, serving on the Weakley County Ag Extension committee, his local Farm Bureau board and the Tennessee Cattleman’s Association state board, the Tennessee Soybean Association state board, and volunteering as a lieutenant with the Greenfield Fire Department. The Yeargins, parents of 2-year-old Patrick, also host groups on their farm each year, including the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Agricultural Sciences, to share the story of agriculture.

“When we joined Young Farmers and Ranchers in 2005, Alice Ann and I decided we wanted to work toward being able to apply for this award,” says Jay, “so it’s a true honor to receive this recognition, one that is based on what farmers do every day. Along the way, we’ve made a lot of good friends both in our state and across the country. Because of [YF&R], we’re also involved with other local and state ag organizations and enjoy meeting new people and advocating for our industry in that way, too. We’ve gotten a lot of help from family and friends and appreciate all their support.”

On April 20, a special celebration at Yeargin Farms was held to honor the couple. More than 150 community members and friends, along with representatives from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA), Tennessee Farm Bureau, AFBF YF&R organization, and Tri-County Farmers Equipment, participated in the presentation.

“We are proud that Tennessee’s reputation nationally is so strong and we’ve always had such strong leaders,” said Tom Womack, deputy commissioner for TDA, during the ceremony. “It really takes a lot of courage today to stand up and speak for what you believe in. We need more young people like that to be able to stand up for agriculture, to tell the good story of agriculture. The fact that Jay and Alice Ann were able to do that and carry that to a national stage really shows a lot about their character, and that’s what makes this award so special.”

 
 
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