Gena Lowry doesn’t mind a little mud on her boots. She also has a passion for teaching children about one of her passions: farming.
It all came together beautifully at the annual Farm City Days in Autauga and Elmore counties, where Lowry and other Alabama Power volunteers helped to make the events run smoothly.
“I love working with children and showing them what farming is all about,” said Lowry, a senior customer service representative in the company’s Prattville office who also runs a family dairy goat farm. Lowry is a longtime member of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO).
Lowry shared her love of farming as one of the exhibitors at the Autauga Farm City event, giving the visiting fourth-graders a close look at Camille, one of her dairy goats. A few students got some hands-on experience, milking Camille. For some, it was likely the closest they’ve ever been to a farm animal.
Farm City Days is among a host of community service projects APSO volunteers are involved in throughout November in celebration of the organization’s 30th anniversary. In commemoration of the milestone, volunteers from the nine APSO chapters – from Birmingham to Mobile, Tuscaloosa to Anniston and points between – plan to complete 30 service projects during the 30 days of November.
“For the past 30 years our APSO volunteers have proven how dedicated they are to helping communities and nonprofits all across Alabama,” said Jacki Lowry, a community development specialist in Anniston and this year’s APSO state board president. “The range of projects they are working on this month is really amazing, and it’s a reflection of the diverse skill sets and passions of our members.”
On Nov. 2, members of APSO’s Southern Division chapter helped support the Autauga County Farm City Day at the R.H. Kilpatrick Agricultural Arena in Autaugaville. The event was coordinated by the Autauga County office of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service. Two days later, it was Elmore County’s turn at the county extension office facilities in Wetumpka. The events provided an opportunity for around 700 students from the two counties to learn about local agriculture and agriculture careers, the positive impact of agriculture on the local economy, and about the importance of fresh food for nutrition and as part of a healthy lifestyle.
The leaders of both extension service offices were effusive in praising the APSO volunteers who help make the events happen, especially after both events were cancelled last year because of the pandemic.
“I love APSO. They’ve been so good to us for so many years,” said Katrina Mitchell, county extension coordinator in Elmore County. In addition to Gena Lowry showing off her goats, APSO members helped prepare and feed breakfast and lunch to all the Farm City volunteers.
“They just take really good care of us,” said Mitchell, who supports extension projects beyond the Farm City event, including helping build a shed for the local 4-H program.
Darrue Sharpe, county extension coordinator in Autauga County, said of the APSO volunteers: “They are great. I depend on them every year. Every year I’ve reached out to them and they’ve always come. They are just a huge supporter of what we do.”
At the Autauga event, sixth -raders rotated among 12 stations with exhibits ranging from poultry, to fish-farming, to cattle, pigs and horses.
“We’re really trying to bring awareness of agriculture – many kids these days don’t know where food comes from – from the farmers,” Sharpe said.
Both events placed an emphasis this year on the many options for careers in agriculture, which can range from farming to the biosciences and engineering, to forestry. For example, there were displays and information provided by Auburn University’s Department of Biosystems Engineering, including a demonstration of drone technology. Other exhibits at the Farm City events explored cotton production and beekeeping.
“I can hardly express how much I appreciate Alabama Power and the APSO volunteers,” Mitchell said. “They’re so wonderful.”
Learn more about the Alabama Power Service Organization here.