Agriculture leaders were recognized at the eighth annual Banks County Agriculture Awards Program on Nov. 7 at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.
The honorees were Jerry Boling and Megan Atha with Ag Parts Supply, Agribusiness of the Year; Gail Boling, Woman in Agriculture; Andrew Welborn, Farmer of the Year; and Sen. John Wilkinson, Hall of Fame.
AGRIBUSINESS OF THE YEAR
The following was read as Ag Parts Supply was named Agribusiness of the year: “One day as Jerry Boling was heading home he looked over to see someone locking the doors for a final time on what used to be Thorne’s Farm Supply. In July 2014, Jerry along with his granddaughter, Megan, opened the doors to Ag Parts Supply. Megan has had her challenges as a young entrepreneur but has grown the business to $2+ million this year. With Jerry’s encouragement and support, Megan has become confident in her ability to assist farmers not only locally but all over the United States. Megan and Jerry are also very involved in the community. Jerry is on the Georgia Farm Bureau Water Commodity Committee and Water Council. He has served as the Republican Party Chairman for four years. Jerry was instrumental in starting the Banks County Rotary where he served as past president for 20+ years. Megan also serves as an active member of Rotary. He is a member of the Franklin and Banks Cattlemens. Ag Parts is a major sponsor of the Franklin County Flat Creek Rodeo and the Bull Fighters Only event. Megan sponsors many farm demonstrations concerning farm equipment and farm safety. She is a member of the Banks County Cattlemens, The Franklin County Young Farmers and the Banks County Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher committee.”
WOMAN IN AGRICULTURE
The award to Gail Boling for Woman in Agriculture was presented as the following was read: “Born in 1949 in Lula to Tilden and Ruth Parson, Gail has lived her life in the Banks County area. She married Dan Boling in 1968 and raised their three children on their 200-acre farm here in Homer where she still lives. She still remembers the first thing she had to do after the honeymoon was wash jugs in the chicken house. At that time, the chicken houses had concrete floors. She would help Dan sweep the floors then put out shavings with a shovel. As many farmers did, Dan worked full time at GM until he retired so it was up to her to do a lot of the farm chores. Family and farming are her passion. When, in 2017, Dan was severely injured in a four-wheeler accident she took care of him as well as managing the farm. After losing Dan in January of 2018, she continues to work the four broiler houses with over 50,000 chickens, Wayne Farms has been her grower for 25 years and Fieldale for 26 before that. Gail did have to hire help but still does much of the work herself. Looking back at how hard they worked raising chickens in the past, now everything is computerized. She also oversees the hay cutting of the 200 acres and has 21 cows. She loves spending time with her eight grandchildren and hopes they too will share her passion for farming. Gail has a green thumb when it comes to gardening and one of her special gifts was helping sows deliver. Her family was very involved in 4-H and FFA, showing cattle, pigs, goats and sheep. Gail was in the Booster club and volunteered all the years her children were in school and even helped out in the lunchroom for 5 years. As a member of Charity Baptist Church she ran the Food Bank until 2015.”
FARMER OF THE YEAR
As Andrew Welborn was named Farmer of the Year, the following was read: “Andrew Welborn was born in 1980 to Peggy and Dwayne Welborn.
He grew up in Banks County and graduated in 1998. Went to work with his uncle Thomas Bohannon at the Mac dealership as a diesel mechanic.
He worked there until he and his uncle began a mobile mechanic business in 2006. Then, in 2017, they opened T-Bo’s and Andy’s Mac Truck. Andrew’s family did a small amount of farming. In 2004, Andrew jumped into farming on a large scale all on his own. He owns 30 acres and leases 220 acres. He plants half in corn and half in soy beans in the spring then plants wheat for his fall harvest. Andrew practices vertical tillage method of planting to improve the soil and to avoid erosion.
Andrew relied on advice from farmers in the community, like Mark Arial and Bob Waldorf, he attended corn seminars at UGA and is always willing to try new farming practices. With hard work and a passion for farming Andrew has been successful in his production. Fifty years ago, one farmer had to feed 10 people. Today, one farmer will be responsible for providing food for more than 150 people. Banks County is proud to Award this years Farmer of the Year to one of our younger farmers, Andrew Welborn.”
HALL OF FAME
Sen. Wilkinson, who was also the guest speaker at the dinner, was surprised to receive the Hall of Fame award. As guest speaker, he shared his memories of growing up in Banks County. After receiving the Hall of Fame award, he said it is one of his most cherished recognitions.
When he was awarded the honor, the following background was read, “Senator John Wilkinson was first elected to the state senate for Georgia’s 50th District in 2011. He serves as Majority Caucus Secretary, the Chairman of Agriculture, on the Consumer Affairs committee and as Vice-Chairman of the Education and Youth Committee. He also is a member of the Committee on Assignments and the Administrative Affairs Committee. Over the years he has been elected by his colleagues and by the people he serves for many awards. The ACCG legislative Service Award and the Award for Legislative Advocacy presented by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council. Senator Wilkinson received an A+ Rating on the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Score Card during the 2018 Legislative Session. In 2017, he was presented the Outstanding Service Award by the Georgia Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association and was later named the Region 5 national Award winner by the National Association of Agricultural Educators. In addition, he is a member of the Georgia Agricultural Education Hall of Fame.
Senator Wilkinson’s government experience extends to his previous career as a program manager at the Georgia Department of Education, where he oversaw the state’s agricultural education programs.
John taught agriculture three years in Banks County before he was offered the Executive Secretary of FFA position for the state of Georgia, a role he held for over 20 years. He was named the ‘Hog Coach’ when the FFA hogs got out and went straight to the high school football field. He fondly remembers driving the leopard football bus to away games during his tenure in Banks County. John has many relatives and friends in Banks County.
It’s with his passion for Agriculture and Education that Senator Wilkinson was able to support the Farm Bill which would provide a pilot program here in Banks County, where elementary students would be taught Agriculture.
The Banks County Ag Awards Committee is honored to be able to present the 2019 Hall of Fame Award to Senator John Wilkinson.”
The Chambers Family was also recognized for being named a Centennial Farm honoree for 100 years of operation. Alex and Van Earl Chambers were recognized for the honor.