Yarborough earns honor
ANN M. O'PHELANFor 28 years, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has recognized women who have made outstanding contributions to Florida agriculture. This year, the FDACS, named Imogene Yarborough of Geneva, the 2012 Woman of the Year in Agriculture. In February 2013, a new woman will be chosen to fill those boots, but until then, Yarborough holds the reign.
Published: December 26, 2012
Published: December 26, 2012
Throughout the years, Yarborough has served in many leadership roles at the county, state and national Cattlemen's and CattleWomen's associations, as well as having served on numerous state and local agricultural advisory boards. She was the last Cowbelle's president and the first Florida CattleWomen state president after the Cowbelle's name change. Yarborough currently presides as the Seminole County Farm Bureau president, and stays busy with all of the duties that her title as the Woman of the Year in Agriculture requires.
Additionally, Yarborough is a strong supporter of the 4-H club and FFA. She gives project steers and pigs to students so they can learn first hand about the value of agriculture. She is often referred to as the "Cow Lady," due to having worked in the classroom, educating children about beef by-products and nutrition as well as hosting educational field trips to her ranch to teach hands-on experience with farm equipment.
Still, even as the hard worker and busy person that she is, she carved out some time to tell us about her childhood, her life, and all those things that helped shape her into becoming such a highly recognized woman in the agricultural industry, the second largest industry in the state.
Yarborough spent many of her childhood summers visiting her uncle and his family in Sumter County, where they raised cattle and farmed. Always an industrious one, she even stepped in to assist at the farm while on her summer vacations.
"I truly enjoyed helping out whenever I could," said Yarborough.
Yarborough's primary responsibility was to shuck corn in order to feed the workhorses, the milk cows, the pigs and chickens.
Imogene married a third-generation farmer, Ed, and they had two sons, J.W. and Bo, and also two daughters, Lynn and Reba. Sadly, in 2000, Ed passed away. Their two sons, both currently work at "Yarborough Ranch," the family's 8,000-acre ranch, located in Geneva. Also helping out at the ranch with various tasks are Yarborough's daughters, and their sons' wives. Hay and sod also are both grown. While the hay is used at the ranch, the sod is harvested for yards and roadsides.
Although Yarborough spent many years working hands-on on the ranch, she now spends much of her time taking care of the books, doing what she can do to help in the community, and enjoying watching her children and grandchildren learn what it takes to operate a ranch. She is also known as the ranch's "go-getter".
"I go-get whatever we need at the ranch, such as I go-get things we need from town, parts and such."
Although Yarborough's impressive background made her the perfect candidate to be selected as the Woman of the Year in Agriculture, it was a privilege for her to have won such an honorable recognition.
"I was honored to be on the list with all of those women who preceded me. I have not strived for recognition along the way, but only to let others know how important agriculture is to our world," said Yarborough.
She and Ed both believed in maintaining respect for the land and in taking care of "God's Country." In fact, in 1998, the Yarborough's sold 3,400 acres of their ranch as a conservation easement to the St. Johns Water Management District so that future generations can enjoy the land, its resources and natural environment.
For women who are interested in working in agriculture, Yarborough offers this advice: "Find as many mentors as you can, pick their brains and apply what works for you. Be strong."