Ag banquet brings focus on agriculture awareness to public

The 29th Annual Agriculture Appreciation Banquet brought focus to local farmers, agriculture producers and students pursuing agriculture degrees. The banquet also also shed light on agriculture awareness.
This year was no exception as the Boonville High School Commons was filled Tuesday evening with local individuals who have spent their entire life in agriculture. The banquet's keynote speaker of the night included resident Matt Boatright, who was the former Deputy Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Boatright focused his discussion on the importance of bringing agriculture education to the general public. These words were echoed by Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce Board President Craig Meyer.
"Since we are such an agriculture based community we need to be ambassadors to those communities who do not know as much as we do," Meyer said.
Meyer also said awareness within the community has grown considerably in the past couple of years especially with the Farmer's Pick Buffet at the Isle of Capri Casino Buffet, which purchases all of their produce from locally owned farms. He also said there are people, especially small children who do not know where fresh produce comes from, including eggs as an example.    
The AFA Scholarship was awarded to three students in the community. These students included Kathryn Rodman, Jack Lang and Kendra Stinson. The AFA Scholarship is given each year and awarded to students pursuing fields in agriculture.
"I am very proud of the three individuals who were chosen. It was very tough to choose since all eight candidates were very strong," Reynolds said.
AFA Scholarship Co-Chairs Lance Reynolds and Marty James send out applications in December to schools within Cooper County. Once applications are returned the students are then called in for an interview. Other crucial points include writing a 300-500 word essay on the future of agriculture. Reynolds said choosing the three individuals is also based on community involvement and accomplishments. Reynolds said they have the money to give to three students annually because of the large support they get within the community including a match from the AFA as well. The scholarship includes $4,200 with $3,200 being used for academics.  
Other awards included the Service to Agriculture Award, which was given to Gordon Shay. The Woman in Agriculture Award was given to Barbara Twenter. The Production Agriculture Award was given to Cloverleaf Farms. Special Recognition was given to the Isle of Capri Farmer's Pick Buffet. The winner of the SWCD Conservation Farmer was given to Bob Widel. Other highlights of the night included the grade school poster winners and a conservation update from the Cooper County University Extension Office by Todd Lorenz.
Fourth grade poster contest winners included Marina Firman, Celsey Wood, Amanda Newbold, Julianne Brumagen and Jordan Birk. Fifth grade poster contest winners included Clint Moore, Ashlya Twenter, Carson Dee, Josie Johnson, and Bekah Taylor. Sixth grade winners included Baily Brimer and Georgia Wright.