The Memphis-based National Cotton Ginners Association (NCGA) elected its officers for 2010 at its annual meeting here on Feb. 4-8.

The new officers are: president, Kirk Gilkey, manager of Cross Creek Gin, LLC in Corcoran, Calif.; first vice president, Kent Fountain, Surrency, Ga.; second vice president, Lee Tiller, Odem, Texas; third vice president, Curtis Stewart, Dumas, Ark.; and chairman, Sledge Taylor, Como, Miss. Harrison Ashley of Memphis serves as NCGA’s executive vice president.

In addition, Phil Hickman, manager of Valley Gin in Tornillo, Texas, was named the 2009 Horace Hayden National Cotton Ginner of the Year. That award is presented annually to a ginner in recognition of: 1) able, efficient and faithful service to the ginning industry and 2) continuing of those principles exemplified and practiced by Horace Hayden, a former NCGA executive secretary.

Hickman of Mullin, Texas, graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. and a M.S. in Agricultural Engineering. Dr. Calvin Parnell, a professor there who was instrumental in Hickman pursuing cotton as his career, said Hickman is one of the brightest and finest individuals with whom he had the pleasure of instructing.

Hickman’s first job upon graduation was with the Lummus Company as a field engineer, a position he held from 1984-90. From there, he became manager of Valley Gin. During his tenure there, many positive changes took place such as the storage and marketing of their customer’s cotton and cottonseed.

Hickman’s industry leadership includes service as: past president of the Texas Cotton Ginners Association, current president of the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Trust, past director of the NCGA, and current ginner delegate to the National Cotton Council. Within each of those organizations, he has served on various committees.

Also honored at the NCGA meeting was Tommy Valco, who received NCGA’s Distinguished Service Award. That honor is reserved for those individuals who have provided a career of distinguished service to the U.S. ginning industry.

Valco, who is cotton technology transfer & education coordinator in USDA’s Office of Technology Transfer in Stoneville, Miss., is recognized as a national expert in cotton production and processing technology. He has authored or coauthored numerous publications and made numerous technical presentations on cotton production, precision farming, cotton harvesting and field storage, ginning, cottonseed handling and storage, and fiber quality evaluations. In addition to serving as an advisor to numerous organizations, he has been a member of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers serving on a number of committees of that organization.

After earning a B.S., M.A., and Ph.D in Agricultural Engineering from Texas A&M University, Valco began his career in 1977 as a test engineer for International Harvester. The following year, he became an Extension agricultural engineer for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. In 1987, he joined the Texas Agricultural Extension Service as an associate professor and Extension agricultural engineer. From 1992–2001 he worked as the director of Agricultural Research for Cotton Incorporated prior to joining USDA in Stoneville.