The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association announced former Auburn University coach Joe Whitt of Auburn and Fran Pearce of Browns as the newest board members of the organization.
“We are extremely pleased that these two Black Belt enthusiasts are joining the board,” said 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. Following a short stint coaching high school football, Whitt joined the staff at Auburn University where he was a part of six SEC titles, two undefeated seasons and coached in 20 bowl games before retiring from coaching in 2005.
Whitt is a member of the Alabama State University Board of Trustees and has been inducted into the Blount High School, Lee High School and Mobile Sports halls of fame. He is 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,” Whitt said. “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.”
Fran Pearce is a lifelong resident of Dallas County and an ardent supporter of Selma and the Dallas County area. She currently serves as a Selma Charity League Sustainer, board member of ArtsRevive, board member of Leadership Selma Dallas County and is a graduate of Leadership Alabama.
The fifth generation from her family to live on the farm in Browns, she and her late husband David 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 Fran and David’s two sons.
“I am a firm believer that creative thinking and art brings people together, puts life back into historical structures and builds community,” Pearce said. “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, as defined by the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, includes Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox counties.
The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association‘s mission includes promoting and enhancing outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities in the Black Belt in a manner that provides economic and ecological benefits to the region and its citizens.