Caroline Lewallen’s work in bringing the farm to Hall County schools has helped the Lula woman win a top award from the Georgia Farm Bureau.
“Volunteer hours have paid off,” she said of winning the 2018 Young Farmer & Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award at a conference on Jekyll Island last month.
Lewallen, agritourism and marketing director for Jaemor Farms in Lula, credits her development of the Hall County Farm Bureau’s HallGROWS (Growing Real Opportunities With Students) program in helping her win the award.The program, which takes agriculture-based lessons into the classroom, begins its third year in the Hall school system this fall.
“I’m super excited to see it continue,” Lewallen said.
She was one of three finalists for the award. The finalists made their presentations to judges, and the winner was announced during the Georgia Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer & Rancher Leadership Conference.
The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes agriculturalists between the ages of 18 and 35 who earn most of their income from something other than production agriculture.
As the state winner, Lewallen received $500, an all-terrain vehicle and an expenses-paid trip to the 2019 American Farm Bureau Convention in New Orleans Jan. 11-16 to compete for national honors.
Lewallen, 29, has had a longtime interest in agriculture.
“I grew up knowing I wanted to work in the industry,” said Lewallen, whose father is Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. “The Echols have made me just as much as a family member, even though I’m not.”
The Echols family owns Jaemor, one of Georgia’s top agritourism sites.
“While I may not be a farmer at Jaemor, I tell the story everyday of what they do and who they are,” Lewallen said.
She and husband Kyle are looking to start a 55-acre cattle farm in Habersham County.
“We’re planning to sell the beef directly to consumers,” Lewallen said. “We’re hoping to (start selling) in November.
“Growing up on a farm, what I’ve learned at Jaemor … and professional development workshops through the Farm Bureau will certainly help us jump-start this side business.”