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Friday, December 12, 2014

CORE Students learn about Florida-Georgia agriculture through bus trip

Participants of KCGA’s third CORE class recently returned  from a six day bus tour highlighting agriculture in areas of Florida and Georgia.

The trip is part of the program’s curriculum, but the general location of the bus tour is decided by the class.

According to Adam Andrews, Programs Director of Kentucky Corn Growers Association, class-influenced curriculum is one of the things that makes this program different from others.

“As we go through the program we take notes on what they are interested in learning from sessions and build the program around that.”

Combining interests from Class III with the guidance of Andrews and UK Extension Specialist, Dr. Chad Lee, the bus tour visited the Gulf of Mexico, beginning in the Apalachicola River Estuary — the largest producer of oysters in the Gulf. Then traveled to Potash Corp, a phosphate mine in White Springs, Florida.
Brain Kilzer of Savannah Marine Terminal (SMT) explains to CORE participants how his company transfers DDGS, a co-product of ethanol, from a hopper railcar (originating from the Midwest) to a shipping container (for export to Asia).  SMT is a private company that was established in 2007, the same year the RFS was enacted.  The company initially specialized in DDGS but has since expanded to export other agriculture products, such as soybean meal.  SMT employs about 30 full-time workers at three facilities in Savannah.

After Florida, the bus made it’s way to Georgia for a stop in Valdosta the home of National Corn Yield Contest winner, Randy Dowdy. The next couple of stops focused on the cotton industry, with an educational overview at the Univ. of Georgia, and a look at the harvesting process at Ben Boyd’s farm in Sylvania.

The final stop was The Port of Savannah, where wheat and cotton are the two highest volume agricultural commodities to leave the Port.  

Class III participant and Taylor County farmer, Tyler Reynolds said his favorite stop was The Port of Savannah. 

“It was overwhelming the volume they deal with,” he said. “Trucks were constantly coming in and out, then with the containers and loading the vessels, it was just unbelievable.” 

Even though agriculture along the Gulf is different than Kentucky, Reynolds explained there were still aspects of farming that could be applied to both locations. 

“It was really interesting learning about how proactive Randy Dowdy is in his management practices. I think we could take some of that and apply those principles at home,” he added. 

Looking past the educational part of the bus tour and other CORE sessions, Reynolds expressed the most beneficial part of this program is the networking opportunities. 

“Getting to meet other farmers and ag industry people in Kentucky, and having those people you can talk to and pull information from is invaluable,” he concluded.  

If you are interested in participating in Kentucky Corn Growers next CORE class, contact Adam Andrews at

KyCorn farmers receive awards during KFB annual meeting

Three Kentucky Corn Growers Association board members were honored last week in Louisville during Kentucky Farm Bureau’s 95th annual meeting.

A KCGA board member for 11 years, Richard Preston of Hardin County, was awarded for his Distinguished Service to Agriculture. Preston grew up on a small hobby farm near Glendale, and while he aspired to become a farmer, life led him to the University of Kentucky to earn a degree in Chemistry. After UK, Preston continued his education on a graduate fellowship at Yale University, where he finished with a Doctorate in Physical Chemistry.
Richard Preston (center left) with his wife, Alana (center right), at the organization’s annual meeting, held in Louisville. 
The award was presented by Mark Haney, KFB President (left), and David S. Beck, KFB Executive Vice President (right). Photo Courtesey of KFB.

After working as a research physicist at the University of California, Preston decided to go back to his roots. He purchased some used equipment and 40 acres of cropland in Hardin County and started raising corn and hogs. Flash forward to 2014, Preston and his wife, Alana, have expanded into an intensive row crop operation.

Throughout his journey, Preston has left his mark in agriculture and his community. He has spent his life teaching and coaching youth and young farmers and continues to be a longtime advocate of using sound science on the farm.

“I can’t imagine a better volunteer leader than Richard Preston,” KCGA President Russel Schwenke said. “His contributions to the farming community, industry and our organization have been countless.

For KFB’s 2014 Outstanding Young Farm Family, KCGA board members were honored with first and second place. Chis and Rebekah Pierce were awarded first place in this division. This duo met 14 years ago while studying at UK — Chris, agriculture economics and Rebekah, interior design. Chris purchased his first piece of land in Pulaski County in 2003 while still in college.

Today, Chris and Rebekah are raising four kids and several thousand acres of row crop.

According to Chris, his goal is to leave the land better than they found it.

  While Rebekah takes care of the family and the farm office, Chris also holds an off-farm job teaching young farmer classes at a community college. He is also active with Farm Bureau, an advisor to the local Young Farmer Association and a member of the Farm Service committee and the County Agricultural Development Council.
Chris and Rebekah Pierce (center) joining the many sponsors of this contest to present the award are Mark Haney, KFB President (left) 
and David S. Beck, KFB Executive Vice President (center right). Photo Courtesey of KFB.

Runner-up in the 2014 Outstanding Young Farm Family was NCGA board member Dustin White and his wife, Tammy.

The White’s own and operate part of a large, multi-generational family farm in Union County, where they raise beef cattle, hay, straw, wheat, white and yellow corn, soybeans and seed beans.

Dustin is a Union County Farm Bureau board member and chair of the county’s Young Farmer Committee. The Whites were also finalists in KFB’s 2013 “Outstanding Young Farm Family” award competition.

“We are proud to see these outstanding farmer leaders honored and look forward to continuing to serve them as they face new challenges on their operations,” said Laura Knoth, Executive Director, Kentucky Corn Growers.