Valley Ag Supply was recently named AgVocate of the Year by the board of directors for Ag United for South Dakota.
The award was presented to Tara Pirak, owner of Valley Ag Supply, in honor of the work that she and her late husband, Greg, have done in hosting the annual field-to-table event for schoolchildren each year.
The fifth annual AgVocate award recognizes South Dakotans for their work in sharing their story of modern farming with the public.
Valley Ag Supply was founded in 2000 by Greg and Tara Pirak when they were attending the University of South Dakota. The family-owned agronomy center now has 17 employees and provides information, fertilizer, crop protection and custom application services from locations in Gayville and Spink, S.D.
Each fall, Valley Ag Supply hosts a field-to-table event that brings more than 600 students from 16 area elementary and middle schools to see modern agriculture firsthand. The program was started by a local farmer and taken over by Valley Ag Supply after the farmer retired in 2006. It now features hands-on stations to learn about corn, soybeans, soils, livestock, machinery, finance, biotechnology and more. The activities at the event are aligned with South Dakota education standards for middle school students
“Greg, Tara and the team at Valley Ag Supply have built the field-to-table event into an impressive event that students and the entire community look forward to,” says Jim Petrik, a Gayville, S.D., farmer and Ag United volunteer who presented the award. “They are also strong supporters of the community and livestock agriculture in the area.”
Greg Pirak was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but his passion in agriculture was sparked by his love of nature and a tractor driving course at the University of California-Davis. He worked at agriculture retailer businesses through college. A job with Cargill brought him to Yankton, S.D. He left Cargill to pursue a Master of Business Administration at the University of South Dakota.
Greg and Tara met while he was at USD, and they began dating and became business partners. They have three sons: Brett, Derek and William. Greg passed away unexpectedly while traveling on vacation in August 2018.
“The field-to-table event is a great example of bringing the agriculture community together to share the story of how food is produced with students who may not have the opportunity to see crops, equipment or livestock firsthand,” says Richard Vasgaard, a Centerville farmer and president of Ag United. “It is a tremendous honor to Greg.”
Ag United is a collaboration of farm organizations that support livestock production and development. Members include the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, South Dakota Dairy Producers, South Dakota Farm Bureau, South Dakota Pork Producers Council, South Dakota Poultry Industries Association and the South Dakota Soybean Association.
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