Dec 29, 2022
10 Growers of the Year give back to area charities

Ten growers honored as part of the 2022 Swisher/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year program chose charities in their respective states to receive $500 donations provided by agrichemical company Syngenta.

“It is so fitting that a group of people who give so much to the community around them and the country as a whole would also take the opportunity to donate to a charitable organization,” said Wendell Calhoun, strategic marketing and operations manager at Syngenta. “Every single one of these winning farmers is passionate and dedicated to the agricultural industry, and we are proud to sponsor this award in recognition of their achievements.”

Keith Allen of Latta, South Carolina, selected the Miracle League of Florence County as his donation recipient. Photo: Miracle League of Florence County

Jerry Dakin, of Myakka City, Florida, chose Gator Wilderness Camp School, an organization serving adolescent boys ages 11-15 who face issues in their families, schools and communities.

“I am one of four brothers, so I have a special concern for young men struggling to be a successful part of society. I believe in Gator Wilderness Camp School’s mission,” Dakin said.

Keith Allen of Latta, South Carolina, selected the Miracle League of Florence County as his donation recipient. The organization is a modified baseball league tailored towards participants with physical disabilities.

“I have a special needs child, and this league does a great job making those children feel special,” Allen said.

Chip Blalock, executive director of the Sunbelt Expo, said the awards help recognize excellence in agriculture and hardworking farmers in the region.

“It is an honor for us and our sponsors, such as Syngenta, to give these farmers the recognition that they so richly deserve,” Blalock said. “Each year, after going through the judging and awards process, we are reassured that the family farm is alive and well.”

Robert E. Saunders of Piney River, Virginia, was chosen as the overall Farmer of the Year and received two $500 donations, which he earmarked for the Nelson Memorial Library, part of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system in Nelson County, Virginia.

“My wife Pat and I chose to donate to the Nelson Memorial Library, which has been serving individuals of Nelson County for 50 years,” he said. “Our donation will benefit all of Nelson County, a place my family has called home for nearly 200 years.”

The list of 2022 Southeastern Farmers of the Year and their chosen charities:

  • Mark Byrd, Danville, Alabama: St. Jude Children’s Hospital
  • Chris Sweat, McCaskill, Arkansas: Huck’s Military Care Package Project
  • Jerry Dakin, Myakka City, Florida: Gator Wilderness Camp School
  • Scotty Raines, Sycamore, Georgia: First Baptist Church of Tifton
  • Wesley C. Parker, Oak Grove, Kentucky: St. Jude Children’s Hospital
  • Michael Lynn Wagner, Sumner, Mississippi: St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Extra Table Mississippi
  • Kevin Matthews, East Bend, North Carolina: Forbush High School FFA
  • Keith Allen, Latta, South Carolina: The Miracle League of Florence County
  • John M. Harrison, Philadelphia, Tennessee: Randy Davis Memorial Milk Fund
  • Robert E. Saunders, Piney River, Virginia: Nelson Memorial Library


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