(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Justin is a 2002 graduate of Buffalo Island Central School. He earned an Associate Degree at Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville and will be attending Arkansas State University in the fall to major in Agriculture Business. He is a member of the North America Hunting Club and Ducks Unlimited. He enjoys playing softball, hunting, golf, boating, coaching baseball and spending time with his fiancée, Taffy Rogers. He recently bought a home in Leachville and is currently farming with his dad.
Mark is a 2004 honor graduate of BIC. He was active in baseball and basketball. He plans to attend Arkansas Tech University this fall. He is helping with the farming operation this summer.
Heath, the youngest of the Hawkins' sons, will be in the seventh grade at BIC Junior High. He is active in baseball, basketball and karate. He too helps with the farming operation and the yard work.
Kerin, a former elementary teacher, works in the office when needed as well as taking care of the duties at home making sure everyone is where they need to be. She taught at BIC Elementary School for seven years.
The Hawkins family has a strong farming background and is the second generation to receive the top county farming honor. Cole's father, Snowden, was named farm family in 1979.
Their sons, Justin, Mark and Heath, make up the fifth generation of Hawkins that have farmed in the area dating back to 1913 when Cole's great-grandfather, Burt Hawkins, started the farming tradition. While operating a hotel, Burt cleared the land for his farming operation. Cole's grandfather, Jason Hawkins, started farming 40 acres in 1935. That farm is still farmed by the family today. Snowden Hawkins started farming 50 acres in 1954. Cole grew up helping his dad on the farm and started farming on his own in 1980 with 80 acres of ground. The father and son farmed together until 2001 when Snowden retired.
"Although he says he is retired, he still helps and is very active with the farming operation," Cole said.
Cole's mother, Martha, kept the farm books for many years. Her father, Pete Manis, was involved in farming, also. They lived around Monette and Delfore area while raising nine children on 60 acres of Kiech land.
Kerin's family were also pioneer farmers. Her great-grandfather, Elbert E. Barnes, was married to Frances Stotts. He started farming in Stottsville, south of Monette, in the early 1900s. After moving north of Monette, he cleared the land belonging to Chicago Mill & Lumber. He bought 80 acres from them which he farmed until he retired.
Her grandfather, J.R. Miller, was married to Edna Barnes. He farmed Stotts land at Stottsville before moving to Delfore where he rented land from Kiech-Shauver Land Co. Her dad, P.D. Wallace, started farming in 1953 in the Delfore area until he retired. He farmed the Bernard Baledge farm when he was farming, and Cole and Kerin began farming the same farm in 2003.
Their ancestors probably would never have imagined the technology and growth of the family farms of 2004.
The Hawkins farm 7,460 acres with cotton making up 7,358 acres, and 102 acres of soybeans.
The soybean farm consists of one field south of Lake City inside the levee and belongs to family. The farm belongs to T.G. Harvey, Cole's great-great-uncle. This farm is in the river bottom and has deer, turkey, quail, ducks and other wildlife.
Justin, an avid hunter, especially enjoys working in this area, where he can enjoy the wildlife.
The Hawkins are proud of their farming heritage and said they realize that the efforts and trials of their ancestors helped them to be where they are today.
"We learned from them that we must be open to new ideas and technology to maintain our farm for the generations to come. Like the farmers before us, we are open to and look forward to the many changes to come," Cole said.
Kerin's sister, Pam Sandusky, now works full time in the office. She utilizes Farm Works for record keeping of cotton records and chemical and EPA records. She also uses Cotton Host and Q&A Report Writer which is a program written by Dale wells which maintains all harvest records. She uses Peachtree accounting to keep up with all farming operations including Hawkins Farms, Justin Hawkins Farms, Snowden Hawkins Farms and family bills.
Both Cole and Kerin agreed they are happy to have Pam working with them. She is very knowledgeable on different farm programs.
They also said they feel fortunate to have Boe Adams take care of the cotton marketing as well as Ronnie and Sandra Kennett to help them keep the paperwork running smoothly in the gin office.
Other full time employees include Larry Rolland, Kent Damron, Alvin Pittman, Donald Smith, Justin Murphy, Oscar Perez, Virgil Helms, Hector Cordero. During the harvest season they add several workers including Jim Rolland who retired after the 2003 crop. Rolland worked with the Hawkins for 32 years.
The Hawkins are members of the First Baptist Church in Leachville.
Cole served on the BIC School Board for eight years and they are members of the BIC Mustang Club.
The family works together and holds to the farming tradition passed down from generaiton to generation.
They not only work together, they enjoy spending their recreation time together as a family. They enjoy time spent at their pool grilling out and time at Lake Norfork.