Holly Pond’s Cora Hogeland earns state Farm-City award

Cora Hogeland of Holly Pond Elementary School scored fourth place in the 2023 Alabama Farm-City Committee Poster Contest for Kindergarten through Third Grades. The theme was “Agritourism: Connecting Alabama Farms and Communities.” Hogeland received $60 from Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC) during the Farm-City Awards Program April 11 in Auburn. She is pictured with Alabama Farm-City Committee Chair Jeff Helms of the Alabama Farmers Federation and AFC’s Tiffany Lester. (Alabama Farmers Federation)

Winners honored during Farm-City Awards, including state’s 2024 Farm of Distinction

AUBURN, Ala. – Agritourism was on display during the annual Farm-City Awards Program April 11 in Auburn. 

Detailed activity reports, bright posters, well-worded essays and vibrant videos showcased hours of hard work and dedication by students and Farm-City committees across the state. 

Alabama Farm-City Committee Chair Jeff Helms said student contestants and county committees captured the idea of Farm-City in 2023. 

“The goal of our theme last year was ‘Connecting Farms and Communities.’ This has been the mission of Farm-City Week since its inception in 1955,” said Helms of the Alabama Farmers Federation. “The work done last year by students, teachers and county volunteers strengthened bonds between farmers and the neighbors who buy their products and provide services needed to sustain Alabama’s agricultural and forestry economies. We believe the seeds of understanding planted in 2023 will continue to bear fruit for years to come.”

Over 350 students, county committees and families came together to celebrate year-long achievements and creative exhibits showcasing the 2023 theme, “Agritourism: Connecting Alabama Farms and Communities.” 

Sirmons win Farm of Distinction

During the program, Sirmon Farms in Baldwin County was named the 2024 Farm of Distinction. Farm owners Joel and Patti Sirmon said they understand the hard work it takes to be successful in agriculture.

“I don’t call it work,” said Joel Sirmon, a fifth-generation farmer. “This is my way of living.”

Sirmon Farms spans 4,500 acres in the Belforest community. The Sirmons grow cotton, corn, peanuts, and sweet potatoes and will represent Alabama during the Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest this fall. 

The family business includes Joel’s mother, Shirley, and brother, James.

As the Farm of Distinction, the Sirmon family received an engraved farm sign from the Federation and Alfa Insurance; a John Deere Gator from SunSouth, TriGreen and John Deere; a $1,000 gift from AFC; and $1,000 from First South Farm Credit. 

Exceptional counties highlighted

Local Farm-City committees and leaders were honored for efforts to connect rural communities and city neighbors through events, activities and other creative methods. 

Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation sponsored cash prizes for top committees. Division winners received $300 while runners-up garnered $200. Category award winners received $100 per category award. 

Division I represents larger populations, while Division II represents smaller counties. 

Division I

  • Lee County: Best Farm-City Committee; Best Civic Club Activities; Best Scrapbook 
  • Dale County: Runner-up Best Farm-City Committee; Best Dinner; Best Tour 
  • Walker County: Target Award
  • St. Clair County: Innovative Idea Award
  • Chilton County: Best Media Coverage & Proclamation
  • Jefferson County: Best Special Activities

Division II

  • Geneva County: Best Farm-City Committee; Best Scrapbook; Best Civic Club Activities
  • Cherokee County: Runner-up Best Farm-City Committee and Innovative Idea Award
  • Barbour County: Target Award and Best Tour 
  • Fayette County: Best Dinner
  • Clay County: Best Media Coverage & Proclamation
  • Pike County: Best Special Activities

Additionally, Chilton County Probate Judge Jason Calhoun was named Volunteer of the Year, and Houston County Career Tech Academy Director Chris Kennedy received the Farm-City Service Award. 

Skilled students honored

Eighteen kindergarten through 12th grade students were honored for their displays of Alabama agritourism in poster, essay and video formats. 

Winners and runners-up received trophies and cash awards from Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC), which also provided matching cash awards for schools of first- and second-place entries. 

Entries were judged by state agriculture and business leaders chosen by the Alabama Farm-City Committee. Winning works were promoted during the awards program, and the Top 12 posters will be featured in the 2025 Alabama Farm-City Calendar. 

Poster Contest, Kindergarten-Third Grade

  • First and $200: Corbitt Dyess, Mulkey Elementary School, Geneva County
  • Second and $100: Channing Boyd, Stephen Elementary School, Tallapoosa County 
  • Third and $75: Gianna Hines, Mount Olive Primary School, Russell County 
  • Fourth and $60: Cora Hogeland, Holly Pond Elementary School, Cullman County 
  • Fifth and $40: Jaxon Aday, Moulton Elementary School, Lawrence County 
  • Sixth and $25: Laila Pippin, Morris Slingluff Elementary School, Houston County 

Poster Contest, Fourth-Sixth Grade

  • First and $200: Micah Blankenship, Ariton Elementary School, Dale County
  • Second and $100: Lilli Norris, Bagley Elementary School, Jefferson County 
  • Third and $75: Willoughby Dean, Prattville Intermediate School, Autauga County
  • Fourth and $60: Pruitt Woods, Moulton Middle School, Lawrence County 
  • Fifth and $40: Addison Heath, Sulligent Elementary School, Lamar County 
  • Sixth and $25: Era Lee Bell, home-school, Clay County 

See winning posters at www.flickr.com/photos/alabamafarmers/albums/72177720316165094.

Essay Contest, Seventh-Ninth Grade

  • First and $300: Caleb Cook, Billingsley School, Autauga County
  • Second and $200: Susan Atchison, Chilton Christian Academy, Chilton County 

Essay Contest, 10th-12th Grade

  • First and $300: Noah Price, Alabama School for the Blind, Talladega County 
  • Second and $200: Denver Guthery, Billingsley School, Autauga County 

Video Contest

  • First and $300: Emily McDaniel, Corner High School, Jefferson County 
  • Second and $200: Kayden Bland, Billingsley School, Autauga County 

See the winning video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3N7ZMORJu4.