Finis Stribling III is the recipient of Farm Credit Mid-America’s inaugural Community Excellence Award. This award recognizes a community leader, agricultural professional or volunteer who belongs to a community-based agricultural organization and is creating pathways for the next generation of agriculture.
Stribling has worked for Tennessee State University Extension for nearly 30 years and currently serves as director of the Tennessee New Farmer Academy and Small Farm Programs. Throughout his career, Stribling has addressed the challenges that small farmers face while ensuring they have the necessary resources to be successful.
“Small farms play a vital role in our communities, state and country, and if you didn't grow up in the agricultural industry, that's OK," said Stribling. "If you are a military veteran, interested in leaving the private sector, or even looking for something post-retirement, we want to provide the hands-on experience needed to build solid, viable and successful agricultural businesses for farmers from all walks of life."
Stribling established the Tennessee New Farmer Academy, a seven-month certification program for new and beginning farmers across the state in 2014. The program helps individuals who are new to farming or looking to transition into farming from another field learn how to establish and maintain an efficient, productive agricultural business through both classroom instruction and hands-on sessions. Participants learn about a variety of agricultural topics, from soil health and irrigation strategies to livestock production best practices.
Stribling also chairs the Tennessee Small Farm Programs. This annual event brings farmers, educators and state and local leaders together to discuss the needs of small farmers and emerging research.
“We value the work of community leaders and farmers who are forging pathways to help others in their communities find success in the field of agriculture,” said Marcus Tyler, emerging ag business development manager for Farm Credit Mid-America. “Finis has built an impressive career meeting the needs of new and beginning farmers across Tennessee, and he is incredibly deserving of this award.”
The Community Excellence Award is made possible through Growing Forward®, Farm Credit Mid-America’s program for young, beginning and small farmers. This multi-year program provides eligible customers with continuing education opportunities that focus on financial management and help them position their operations for growth and long-term success.
Winners of the Community Excellence Award receive $2,500 and the opportunity to be recognized at one of the cooperative’s Know to Grow® conferences. Stribling was recognized at Know to Grow® in Indianapolis held January 30-31. Applications for next year’s Community Excellence Award will open in 2024; applicants must have attended a Know to Grow® or Know to Thrive conference.