TIFTON —At its recent virtual meeting, Georgia Association of Conservation Districts members reelected Brian Ponder of Tift County as GACD Group 3 vice president and Tom Sumners of Lee County as GACD Group 3 alternate vice president.
They will serve two-year terms, GACD representatives said in a statement.
Ponder and his brother, Ken, grew up with farming in their blood, representatives said.
Ponder Farms has a cotton, corn, peanut, timber and watermelon operation that carries a family history story that dates back 134 years.
In 1884, the grandparents purchased about 100 acres near Omega. The farm eventually expanded to several thousand acres and has been handed down through generations. Ponder’s dad instilled in him the belief that “if you take care of the land, it will take care of you,” he said.
His father was the first in the area to utilize USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and saw the benefits of erosion prevention. He and his brother have since implemented a variety of NRCS EQIP and CSP practices such as waterway management, terracing and drain tile systems to improve soil health and conserve water, representatives said.
He has served as a district supervisor for the Middle South Georgia Soil and Water Conservation District since 2002.
Sumners has been farming his entire life. In 1962, his father, Philip Sumners, established Pentahope farms in Tennessee. This is where Tom Sumners spent most of his childhood.
"In order to expand their farm, in the fall of 1978, the Sumners packed up their five sons and relocated to Leesburg, Ga.," representatives said. "Eventually, Tom’s father decided to pass the farm on to Tom and his brother Tim as co-owners."
They currently raise dairy heifers, have a pecan grove and grow row crops.
"Tom brings his vast knowledge of stream management, cover crops and farming to GACD and his conservation district. In years past, Tom’s family has been involved in livestock and swine projects through the 4-H and FFA programs," representatives said. "Tom understands that our youth are our future and he takes pride in working with local teachers and students to educate them on farming and agriculture.
He has served as a district supervisor for the Lower Chattahoochee River Conservation District since 2018.
Group 3 Vice-Presidents serve on the board of directors for GACD in representation of the four soil and water conservation districts spanning 36 counties across Southwest Georgia.