Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette Warren Beeler, executive director of the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy, speaks about the necessity of agriculture changing with the times during his keynote speech at the 46th annual Grayson County Agricultural Awards Banquet.

Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette

Warren Beeler, executive director of the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy, speaks about the necessity of agriculture changing with the times during his keynote speech at the 46th annual Grayson County Agricultural Awards Banquet.

The 46th annual Grayson County Agricultural Awards Banquet was held Thursday night to honor the best the local agriculture community had to offer in 2018.

Brad Clemons, a supervisor for the Grayson County Conservation District, presented the first two awards to the winners of the 2018 Conservation Writing and Art contests. These contests are sponsored by the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts and Kentucky Farm Bureau.

For the Conservation Art contest, students in kindergarten through fifth grade were asked to design a poster, and, for the Conservation Writing contest, students in sixth through 12th grade were asked to write an essay. The theme for this year's contests was "Diggin' It."

St. Paul School seventh-grader Molly Geary won the 2018 Conservation Writing contest, and Clarkson Elementary School fifth-grader Callie Lindsey won the Conservation Art contest.

Next, Clay Leveronne, who serves as vice chairman of the Grayson County Conservation District, presented the 2018 Cooperator of the Year award to Joey Porter, who, along with his wife, Leisa, operates a farm in the Short Creek community.

The Porters raise tobacco, corn and soybeans and also have a cow/calf operation. Joey Porter was recognized for successfully installing a drainage system on his property that allows him to harvest his crops earlier in the spring due to drier soils.

Leon Joiner was then named the 2018 Master Conservationist by David E. Hayes, who also serves as a supervisor for the Grayson County Conservation District.

The Master Conservationist award is presented each year to a local farmer who establishes a farm plan and reaches at least 90-percent completion.

Joiner was selected as this year's recipient for completing a timber stand improvement practice — the process by which trees of undesirable form, quality, condition, growth rate or species are removed to stimulate the growth of more desirable stems and increase timber profits to forestland owners — to fulfill the recommendations of the Kentucky Department of Forestry.

Joiner was also the recipient of a certificate of appreciation from Brent Miller, recently retired from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, for his nearly 57 years of service as chairman of the board of directors of the Short Creek Watershed Conservancy District. Joiner's service in this role began on July 24, 1962.

Finally, Leveronne himself was named the recipient of the 2018 Agriculture & Natural Resources Leadership Award by Grayson County Cattlemen's Association President Ronald Horn in recognition of Leveronne's involvement as a leader in the Grayson County Extension Service and local agriculture.

Leveronne is a soybean and cattle farmer who has taken an active role in extension programming for grain, beef, forages, and conservation, and he currently serves on the County Extension Council, Ag Advisory Council, NRCS Board, Farm Bureau Young Farmers, and FFA Advisory Board.

"He portrays a great example of a servant leader in agriculture," Horn said.