A young entrepreneur from Dawson County has achieved the Future Farmers of America's highest honor.
Bradley Weaver, 21, was awarded the American Star Award in Agribusiness on Oct. 27 during the organization's 85th annual national convention in Indianapolis.
One of four finalists, the national contest celebrates farmers who have mastered skills in production, finance, management and research.
Weaver said the award is something he had worked toward for years.
"It's been my dream since I was a freshman in high school, when I first saw the videos at the national convention, to win this award," he said.
"It's what I've been working for as my final goal for FFA. It means a lot to me. It's the biggest honor that an FFA person can receive."
Growing up on a family farm in northwestern Dawson, Weaver's love for agriculture developed at an early age.
He started growing pumpkins at 5, with plans to save money for college. That same year, he became the youngest member of the local chamber of commerce.
He started selling Christmas trees a few years later and during his freshman year of high school expanded the business to include daylilies and daffodils.
Now taking classes in business administration and biology at North Georgia College & State University, Weaver also manages a small, successful landscaping company.
In all, he operates eight businesses that bear his name. Yet, he still looks for other opportunities.
"I plan on expanding out in the future. For the first time, I am planting 2 acres of blueberries this year," he said.
As a finalist, Weaver was interviewed by a panel of judges, who ultimately named him the top candidate in his category.
As the winner, Weaver received a plaque and a $4,000 cash prize.
Will Wade, a longtime family friend and member of the Dawson County Board of Education, congratulated Weaver, saying: "He epitomizes the idea of the American dream."
"He is truly a great young man and the perfect example of an American Star in Agribusiness," Wade said. "Bradley Weaver is the type of person I hope that today's youth look to as inspiration and as the example to strive to emulate.
"We all can celebrate the success that Bradley has brought to Dawson County by more than just the sweat of his brow. He has earned this award by working each day toward an ever-growing goal that can only be achieved over years of effort, prayer and a little good fortune."
In addition to Weaver's award, four current members of Dawson County High School's FFA chapter received the American FFA Degree for "demonstrating the highest level of commitment to FFA and for making significant accomplishments in their Supervised Agricultural Experiences."
The four students are Kenneth Houseal, Eli Kesting, Nick Reynolds and Seth Stowers.
Students can participate in their local FFA chapter up until age 21, so Weaver won his award as a representative of the high school.