Each year, members of the community who make an impact on Hillsborough County’s rich agricultural community and heritage are honored at the annual Harvest Awards Luncheon. The Harvest Awards kicks off the Hillsborough County Fair. This year, the Harvest Awards was held on September 23 at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds.
The Harvest Awards was established by the Cooperative Extension Service 20 years ago to celebrate those outstanding pioneers in agriculture in the farming community and to preserve the agricultural heritage of Hillsborough County.
This year, Melissa Raburn acted as the Master of Ceremonies. Raburn said, “The Hillsborough County Fair is a longtime tradition in my family. It is a special event for generations of families.”
This year’s honorees included families, individuals and organizations.
The Glen and Francis Williamson family was honored as the Farm Family of the Year. Glen Williamson was born on the family homestead. He and his wife, Francis, have been married for 70 years. They were early adopters of water practices that now prevail within the agricultural industry.
The Lifetime Achievement in Agriculture was awarded to Jemy Hinton. Hillsborough County Commissioner Kimberly Overman said, “Hinton (who is a biologist) has spent her life investigating in others and freely sharing her knowledge and experience.”
The Outstanding Woman in Agriculture was awarded to Debbie Gill. She lives on a 5,000-acre cattle ranch that has been in the family for over 100 years. Gill said, “I am honored to win this award.” She added, “It takes a family to make a ranch work.”
The Outstanding Young Farmer Award was given to Matt Parke of Plant City’s Parkesdale Farms. Parke was recognized for among other things, taking time out of his busy day to answer questions whenever groups went to visit the vast Dover strawberry farm. Parke said, “For me, farming is love not work.”
The SouthShore Chamber of Commerce was awarded the Outstanding Public and Community Service Award for its efforts in helping teachers and the migrant community.
This year, a special Memorial Tribute was awarded to Dr. Earl Lennard for his leadership in agriculture and the community. Dr. Lennard started his career teaching vocational agriculture. He is most remembered for his leadership as superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools. He is also former president of the Hillsborough County Fair Board.
For more information, please visit www.hillsboroughcountyfair.com.