11/20/12 — Three local farmers honored at annual farm/city banquet

View Archive

Three local farmers honored at annual farm/city banquet

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 20, 2012 2:18 PM

For only the second time in its 28-year history, two living members Monday night were inducted into the Wayne County Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The hall was created in 1984 as a means of honoring local residents who have made outstanding contributions to Wayne County agriculture.

Bryant and Debbie Worley of the Princeton community were honored as the living recipients, while the late Lehman Gregory Smith Sr. was inducted posthumously.

His widow, Polly, accepted the plaque on behalf of her family.

Also, Emily Odom of Odom Farming Co., on Claridge Nursery Road, was honored as the Outstanding Woman in Agriculture

The awards were presented Monday night during the annual Wayne County Farm-City Banquet held at the Wayne Center.

Also unveiled was a new plaque provided by the Extension Advisory Council that will feature the names of all of the Outstanding Women in Agriculture, and will be placed in the Wayne Center.

The assembly also paused to pay tribute to the late Lloyd Massey, a member of the Hall of Fame, who lived in Dudley.

"As a matter of fact, on Sept. 25, we lost a very special member of the Agricultural Hall of Fame, Mr. Lloyd Massey, who was inducted in 1988," said Cooperative Extension agent Eileen Coite, who presented the awards. "We'd like to take a moment to remember Mr. Massey as he was the founder of the Wayne County Agricultural Hall of Fame, bringing the idea to Wayne County after researching the North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame, which is housed at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh."

Since 1984, 29 living and 28 deceased individuals have been inducted into the hall. Their photo and plaques honoring them are placed on the wall in the Wayne Center.

Selection criteria focus on outstanding contributions to agriculture in a managerial, leadership, and voluntary capacity, plus the impact in the community of the person's efforts on agriculture. An outside selection committee reviewed the nominees.

Smith was born and reared on the family farm in Wayne County. The Smiths have three sons, Greg, Charles and Jeff, a late daughter, Beth, 10 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

He began farming in the mid-1970s and was dedicated to learning all aspects of farming including livestock, crops and timber, Mrs. Coite said.

Smith was very involved in the community, and was an active member of Pine Forest United Methodist Church where he served on various committees. He was active in the Rosewood High School Booster Club where he played a part in planning and building new baseball fields for the Rosewood community. He was the former president of the Wayne County Farm Bureau, a former Wayne County School Board member and the former horticulture and field crops director for the Wayne County Fair. He served on the Wayne County Farm Service Agency Committee for 23 years and the Wayne County Livestock Development Association.

"Mr. Lehman passed away on December 8, 2011 and left a legacy that has affected numerous Wayne County citizens," Mrs. Coite said.

The Worleys have two daughters, Brooke and Carmen, whose husbands, Kelvin and Ben, respectively, are actively farming with the family. They have six grandchildren.

Worley grew up on the family farm in western Wayne County. He graduated from high school in 1971 and from N.C. State University in 1975 with a degree in agricultural education.

Mrs. Worley also grew up on a farm in western Wayne County. She graduated from high school in 1970 and enrolled at NCSU, graduating in 1974 with a degree in sociology.

Bryant Worley Farms has become a diverse family operation raising turkeys, hogs, tobacco, cotton, corn, soybeans, and wheat, Mrs. Coite said.

Worley has served as volunteer fireman with Oakland Volunteer Fire Department. Both he and Mrs. Worley have held various positions within 4-H, Rosewood High PTA and youth sports organizations.

Worley has served as president of the Wayne County Young Farmers. He retired after serving 20 years on the Wayne County Soil and Water Board of Supervisors. He presently serves on the executive committee of the North Carolina Pork Council.

Mrs. Worley served as one of the original members of the Golden LEAF Board. She is currently serving on the North Carolina Poultry Board. She is a member of the state Agriculture Foundation Board for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State. She has served on the N.C. Tobacco Foundation Board and serves on the advisory board for the Agri-business Center at Mount Olive College.

They are past members of the Wayne County Livestock Development Board and have both served on the Wayne County Agricultural Extension Advisory Board where Mrs. Worley is a current member.

Mrs. Odom grew up on a farm, and has an understanding of farm life, said Betty Gainey, who chaired the Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Committee.

Mrs. Odom and her husband, J.R., are involved in a new type of farming -- agritourism, she said. Simply put, it is people coming to the farm as a tourist activity, Mrs. Gainey said.

"She says she is part farmer, part tour guide, and loves every moment of it," Mrs. Gainey said. "In the spring, she and her husband plant between one and two acres of strawberries. During the weeks of harvest, daycares and preschools come out and take tours where they learn about strawberries and how to pick them.

"What she really loves is providing the kids with hands-on experience picking the food they will be eating and the knowledge of where the food comes from. The main goal of their operation is to get people to understand that food comes from the ground prior to being placed in grocery stores or served at a McDonalds."

Mrs. Odom is a member of the N.C. Strawberry Association and the N.C. Agritourism Networking Association.