Leadership Kentucky 2021 in Hopkinsville

Posted on: August 16, 2021
Tags: Session Review, Leadership Kentucky
LKY 2021 at Fort Campbell

Written By: Alyssa Manning, Leadership Kentucky Class of 2021, Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation

The Leadership Kentucky Class of 2021 spent 3 warm days in Hopkinsville in mid-August, focusing on industry related to both agriculture and military in Kentucky. 

 The group started with a tour organized by Planters Bank, showcasing a diverse group of Hopkinsville agricultural businesses.  At Hopkinsville Elevator, they spoke with Commonwealth Agri-Energy where the group was impressed by the technological advances in the agricultural industry.  To get the full scope of the industry, the group also visited Harvey Zimmerman’s Amish Dairy where they were treated with experiencing a family-run farm, followed by a visit with Roy Jenkins at his tobacco farm where they were able to experience a hands-on demonstration of his operation, and spent some time discussing how public policy has affected tobacco farming practices in Kentucky over the past years.  The day finished up with a wonderful event at the Casey Jones Distillery where Warren Beeler, Mr. Kentucky Agriculture, addressed the group. 

Day 2 brought the class to Ft Campbell, where they were invited to spend the day on base and experience the depth of operations that exist.  The group was invited to a conversation with base leadership where they gained an understanding of the impact of Ft. Campbell and its operations on not only the local community where it is the largest single employer in Kentucky but also its importance to the overall mission of the US Army.  With over 27,000 active-duty soldiers on base and an additional 200,000 civilians, contract employees, retirees and families, the class was inspired by the importance of supporting the base, and harnessing the workforce power of those who leave active duty while stationed there.  The highlight of the day was a session with staff at the Sabalauski Air Assault School where all were invited to repel from a 35’ platform assisted by trained soldiers!

 After that excitement, the class was thrilled to be invited to dinner at Elizabeth McCoy’s new home, a downtown building built in the late 1800’s which formerly housed J.C. Penny, and has been lovingly restored and reimagined over the past few years.  Seeing this beautiful investment in downtown’s future inspired so many conversations about the possibilities for downtowns across the state with private investment and the love of the community members who live there. 

The final day brought the class back to the Bruce Conference Center, for sessions with a renewed focus on agriculture and the opportunities and challenges in the industry today.  Panelists included owners from several local family farms which have grown into major operations, including David Brame, Joseph Sisk, and John Young, as well as Krista Stewart who added to the discussion by focusing on agriculture educational programs being developed at Hopkinsville Community College.  To truly understand how the farming industry has developed and technological advances being made, the class was then treated to an Agri-Power Heavy Equipment Experience with H&R Agripower.  He brought several pieces of equipment to the conference center and spent time with the class helping them understand the investment needed and capability of modern farm equipment.

Finally, the week ended with an address and conversation with Congressman James Comer, who is also the former Commissioner of Agriculture in Kentucky.   As a farm owner himself, his insights into the impact of agriculture on the economy in Western Kentucky and policy issues driving decisions were able to bring together many of the earlier conversations from the week.

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