Thomas Harris Named Conservationist of the Year: July Newsletter

ALBBAA Founder Earns Top Honor

Thomas A. Harris of Montgomery, the founder and chairman of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, has been honored as the Conservationist of the Year in the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s 2019 Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards.

Mr. Harris worked to create the ALBBAA to spotlight the wonderful outdoor activities available in the Black Belt region of the state, to ensure outdoor tourism was a leading economic driver for the area. In order for his idea to take hold, landowners in the Black Belt had to make conservation a priority and with his leadership – and that of others – they have.

Mr. Harris’ nomination said, in part, “Thomas loves the land and holds an impassioned belief that conservation is not theoretical. Conservation of the land works only when it is managed with the goal of preserving and improving it for future generations.

“Many, many times Thomas has spoken a familiar phrase: ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’ In his case, he has said it as he’s worked behind the scenes to help restore the bobwhite quail population in Alabama or to spur outdoors tourism to provide an economic boost to some of the poorest counties in our state or when he is investing in property for future generations to enjoy. For Thomas, it’s not who gets the credit, it’s that the job gets done.”

Mr. Harris will be recognized at the AWF 2019 Governor’s Achievement Awards Banquet on Aug. 9 at the Montgomery Marriott Prattville Hotel & Conference Center at Capitol Hill.

Montevallo Scholars Share Adventures Online

The President’s Outdoor Scholars work hard at the University of Montevallo to learn about all aspects of the growing outdoors industry. They also enjoy getting outside to hunt and fish and experience everything outdoors.

The students are sharing their experiences with the world via their YouTube series, “Outdoor Scholars TV.” In its second season, the UM kids will share 10 episodes that run just under 10 minutes each. Episode 1 features an Alabama turkey hunt at Great Southern Outdoors in Union Springs, as the students were joined by Michael Waddell, Eddie Salter and Bob Walker during a special fundraiser hunt that earned $18,000 for the program.

According to William Crawford, director of the Outdoor Scholars Program, the series provides a means to show the program’s opportunities and adventures, while also serving as a learning tool for students to gain hands-on experience with videography skills. Each episode is filmed by the Outdoor Scholars students to teach them the value of good camerawork and responsibilities for the equipment management.

This season, a new episode is scheduled to be uploaded every Tuesday through Sept. 3. You can find “Outdoor Scholars TV” at this link.

Opelika’s John Emerald Distillery Earns Medals

John Emerald Distillery of Opelika earned multiple awards, including a gold medal, at the PR%F Awards and PR%F Awards Design Distinction during a two-day blind-tasting point-rating competition in Las Vegas in June.

More than 30 spirit industry leaders and more than 500 brands participated in the first-time event.

JED’s Gene’s Spiced Rum was awarded a gold medal while their John’s Alabama Single Malt Whiskey and Spurgeon’s Barrel Aged Rum received silver medals.

In the prestigious 2019 San Francisco World’s Spirits Competition, John Emerald Distillery was awarded a silver medal for John’s Alabama Single Malt Whiskey and a bronze medal for JED’s Hugh Wesley’s Barrel Rested Gin.

John Emerald Distilling Company has been producing top quality Alabama spirits in historic downtown Opelika for five years.

Best Black Belt Fish Contest Heading For Home

This year, we’re giving all the great anglers in the Black Belt plenty of time to have a shot at winning a great prize in our Best Black Belt Fish Photo Contest. The deadline is not until Sept. 11, but you’ll want to enter as soon as you can to give your friends and family time to vote for you.

Visit to upload your photo or to vote for your favorite entry. You can vote once per day, per entry, per email address. The winner will receive a half-day guided fishing trip at Lake Eufaula led by expert fisherman Tony Adams and a night at beautiful Lakepoint State Park. The prize package is worth $430.

BOW Workshop Registration Opens Aug. 7

Registration for first-time participants in the fall Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshop opens on Aug. 7 for the Oct. 4-6 event at the 4-H Center near Columbiana. Those who have previously attended may start registering beginning Aug. 12.

The three-day workshop is designed for women ages 18 and older who would like to learn new outdoor skills and is presented by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Another great benefit of the BOW workshop is the opportunity to create positive memories and build friendships for those who attend.

According to a news release from the ADCNR, there are more than 40 classes taught by experienced instructors at the BOW in a fun outdoor learning environment. Participants can choose four classes from a list of courses such as rifle, pistol, archery, fishing, camping, hiking, canoeing, ATV riding, mountain biking and many more. Regardless of age, outdoor knowledge or physical capability, there is a class suitable for everyone.

BOW coordinator Hope Grier said in the release that the classes are perfect for attendees who are new to the outdoors. “There are many ladies who have not been exposed to these outdoor activities and are apprehensive about trying them,” she said. “BOW is ideal for those women because everything is taught at a beginner level.”

The registration fee for BOW is $275, which covers meals, dormitory-style lodging, program materials and instruction. For more information about this fall’s workshop including a complete list of classes and class descriptions or to register during the dates listed above, visit Enrollment is limited and the classes fill up quickly, Grier said.

The Pecan on Broad Has Expansive Appeal

If you haven’t made a trip to Camden lately, you’re in for a real treat both figuratively and literally. The Pecan on Broad is a gem for this up-and-coming small town in Alabama’s Black Belt. This unique lunch stop, gourmet market, butcher shop and one-of-a-kind gift shop has something for everybody’s taste and serves it with a heaping of genuine hospitality.

The owners, Chris Bailey and Ryan Dunagan, purchased the former Williams Pecan building in downtown Camden after buying a former cotton plantation in the area, renovating it and moving in from Mobile. The Pecan on Broad space was formerly two buildings, the Bank of Camden (where the market is now) and the Williams department store (open for lunch seating and soon to be open for evening dining). Future plans include refurbishing the upstairs as an upscale bar and lounge.

Bailey and Dunagan also purchased the old Wilcox County jail, built in 1889, with an eye on converting it into a visitor’s center and museum with Bailey’s office upstairs – which once held the jail cells.

But for now, The Pecan on Broad is offering a wide-range of locally sourced and Alabama-made products such as MarMar’s Cheese Straws and Country Mix from Selma, Miniature Williams Pecan pies, Kettle Bros. kettle corn from Rainbow City, coffee from Bigbee Coffee Roasters in Jackson, Sweet Tea from Montgomery and Cammie’s Old Dutch ice cream from Mobile. They have a selection of honeys, jams and relishes that are infused with uncommon ingredients such as bourbon, lavender and bacon. Their selection of cheeses will make any party the talk of the town! Old-fashioned candies will take you down memory lane and delight your youngsters. A selection of choice cuts steaks, hand crafted sides and take-and-bake casseroles will make your evening meal easy-peasy. Be sure to choose a great wine from their noteworthy selections to complement dinner – the former bank vault is now a wine cellar!

Located at 110 Broad Street in Camden. Call them for more information at 334-455-4063 and visit their Facebook page at

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<p>Counties included are Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox. Counties included are Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox.

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