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Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association adds two board members

The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association (ALBBAA) on Thursday announced that former Auburn University assistant football coach Joe Whitt, Sr. of Lee County and Fran Pearce of Dallas County are the organization’s newest board members.

“We are extremely pleased that these two Black Belt enthusiasts are joining the board,” stated ALBBAA founder and board president Thomas Harris. “I have no doubt that the addition of Coach Joe Whitt and Mrs. Fran Pearce will enhance our ability to promote the incredible recreational opportunities as well as the thriving arts scene that can both be found all across the region.”

Whitt played football at Alabama State University, where he earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees and is now a trustee. Following a short stint coaching high school football, Whitt joined the staff at Auburn University, embarking on a legendary 25-season coaching career that saw Whitt be a part of six SEC titles, two undefeated seasons and 20 bowl games. He also spent an additional nine years at Auburn after his coaching career as an assistant athletic director for fundraising. Whitt has been inducted into the Blount High School, Lee High School and Mobile Sports Halls of Fame. He was also the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award from the American Football Coaches Association.

“The economic impact related to hunting, fishing, field-trialing and tourism contributes to the Black Belt economy in a major way,” said Whitt, a resident of Auburn. “There is nothing I enjoy more than watching bird dogs work in the areas around Union Springs – the Field Trial Capital of the World – and I am excited to join the board and help promote this beautiful area of our state to others.”

Pearce, a Browns resident, has spent her entire life in Dallas County and is an ardent supporter of the area. She currently serves as a Selma Charity League Sustainer, board member of ArtsRevive and board member of Leadership Selma Dallas County. Pearce is a graduate of Leadership Alabama.

The fifth generation to live on her family farm, she and her late husband transitioned the once thriving cattle farm into one of the state’s first U.S. Farm Raised Catfish farms. Pearce Catfish Farms was recognized as Alabama’s Farm of Distinction in 1994. The farm is now run by their two sons.

“I am a firm believer that creative thinking and art brings people together, puts life back into historical structures and builds community,” said Pearce in a statement. “The greater Selma area, and the Black Belt region as a whole, is full of creative and artistic people that are passionate about their communities. I am looking forward to being a part of this board and continuing to promote the region as a multifaceted destination.”

Whitt and Pearce join current board members Thomas Harris (president), Tim Gothard (treasurer), Freddy Padilla (secretary), Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship and Greenville Mayor Dexter McClendon.

The Black Belt includes the following counties: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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