Last week took me from Chrisney in Spencer County to Ireland in Dubois County to Purdue University and the Indiana FFA State Convention. Earlier I had driven from Posey County, with a stop in Hendricks County and to Jasper County to meet the Master Farmers who were honored last week. In between I squeezed in judging county fairs in Wayne and Rush County.
Through my travels, I witnessed farmers learning from other farmers on Denis Whitsitt's farm, one of the Indiana Farm Tour hosts, to Master Farmers being recognized for being at the top of their game.
All four Master Farmer couples: Jack and Rita Maloney, David and Danita Rodibaugh, Carl and Delene Schmitz and Mike and Karen Starkey are not only top notch farmers, but they are also community leaders.
No two lead in the same way, but from organizing a huge food drive every year for food pantries to serving as President of the National Pork Council, they get the job done. All the while they concentrate on doing things right on the farm, which means adopting new technology – which makes them more efficient – and using no-till or minimum tillage plus addressing special conservation concerns.
The farmers' focus is on protecting their resources, telling agriculture's story, serving the community and raising the most important crop of all – their kids.
That brings me to West Lafayette and the Indiana State FFA Convention. It was rewarding to see a student with whom I have worked, the 2013-2014 State FFA President Allie Abney, conduct a session and honor more than 300 FFA members with their state degree.
Each state degree recipient has demonstrated they can make it in life both in making a business work and in leading others.
A new crop of state officers now takes over, picked form the largest field ever to apply for state office in Indiana – more than 30 candidates. They're off and running.
Some of the past team or the new team may well be the Master Farmers or tour hosts of tomorrow. Carl Schmitz was a state FFA officer more than three decades ago. From what I saw last week, Indiana agriculture is in good hands, both today and for decades to come.