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Groups give agriculture awards to residents, businesses
Dori Bishop leads Merrily the donkey, left, and Yankee Doodle the pony to the covered barn Thursday at Pony Perfect Party. The business, which has been around for 18 years, won Agribusiness of the Year at the annual Agribusiness Award breakfast. - photo by SARA GUEVARA | The Times

Award winners

Friend of Agriculture
President of the Georgia Poultry Federation Mike Giles was honored with the 2012 Friend of Agriculture Award.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized as a friend of agriculture because agriculture has been so good to me my whole life,” Giles said.
Giles’ family owned an agribusiness in Dooly County that primarily grew row crops such as peanuts and cotton.
Giles said it is a tremendous honor to be recognized in the community he calls home.  Abit Massey, president emeritus of the Georgia Poultry Federation, praised Giles for his leadership and his love of agriculture, poultry and people.
“He’s just an outstanding person, an effective leader. He works very hard and he’s respected by others,” Massey said.

Farmer of the Year
Twenty-one-year old Payton Edge was honored with his second Farmer of the Year award. In the fall of 2011, he was given the honor by Soil and Water Conservation and was surprised to be honored again by Hall County.
“It’s a great privilege. It’s really good. I’m glad to get it,” Edge said.
Hall County Agriculture Extension Agent Michael Wheeler said Edge was chosen because there aren’t many young men who have the focus required to operate a farm. Farming requires forethought and planning, something Edge figured out at a young age.
Edge’s mother, Sabrina Edge, said her son’s love of farming began when he was 2 or 3.  “My favorite picture of him is on our refrigerator. We had planted watermelons that year and he was so proud to see those things grow and he took care of them. He’s always loved agriculture and farming and being outside,” Sabrina Edge said.

Agribusiness Hall of Fame
Alton Bruce and Homer Wilson were honored posthumously for being North Georgia poultry pioneers.
The two men worked together throughout their lives and owned Bruce and Wilson Feed and Poultry.
Bruce’s son, Randy Bruce, and Wilson’s wife, Edna Wilson, were present to accept the awards.
“We’re so grateful for these two men and what they meant to all of us in the community and we’re very humbled by this award,” Randy Bruce said.
The families were presented with a certificate to honor the men. Their names will be added to the Hall of Fame plaque at the Hall County Extension Agents Office.
“(Wilson) would have given anything in the world to have been here. He loved to work— he was a workaholic— and chickens,” Edna Wilson said.

Dori Bishop likes to say her life began at age 11.

That was the year she and her family moved to Gainesville, the same year she got her first horse.

Over the years her love of horses continued to grow as did her passion for education.

Bishop worked as a kindergarten teacher at Enota Elementary School in the early 1990s.

She was asked to bring one of her ponies to the school for the students to see. She said that was where the idea for her business Pony Perfect Party began.

She has been educating children and adults about animals and agriculture since 1994.

“I used to be asked if I missed teaching in the school system. And I’m like ‘No, I do it everyday, and I do it with passion and I love what I do,’” Bishop said.

Pony Perfect Party was honored by Hall County as the 2012 Agribusiness of the Year at the annual AgriBusiness Awards Ceremony on Thursday morning.

The breakfast was held at the East Hall Community Center and was hosted by the Hall County Chamber of Commerce and the Hall County Cooperative Extension.

“It was quite an honor. And I think deserved, only because Pony Perfect Party has touched so many lives,” Bishop said. “I almost feel like the Pony Perfect Party events are the beginning of the horse bug for a lot of kids.”

Hall County Agriculture Extension Agent Michael Wheeler said the business received several nominations for agribusiness of the year.

“They do such a good job. They promote agriculture, they expose kids to opportunities they wouldn’t have and they’re very giving of their time and energy,” Wheeler said.

Bishop is starting to see the impact she and the animals have made on children over the years.

“I watched kids grow up and now they bring their kids back. The kids I had parties for, that took riding lessons with me, now they’re coming back with their children to do it and I think that’s wonderful,” Bishop said.

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