Dakota Farmer

Walt Bones of Parker receives the 2022 Governor’s Ag Ambassador Award.

Kevin Schulz, Editor

July 26, 2022

2 Min Read
Walt Bones of Parker, S.D being presented the 2022 South Dakota Governor’s Ag Ambassador Award
SPEAKING OUT FOR AG: Walt Bones of Parker, S.D., was presented the 2022 South Dakota Governor’s Ag Ambassador Award for his advocacy and promotion of the agriculture industry. Kevin Schulz

Being a champion of agriculture’s growth and prosperity is just one of the achievements that makes a great ag ambassador in South Dakota, where agriculture is the No. 1 industry.

Promoting his lifelong passion also helped Walt Bones of Parker, S.D., earn this year’s 2022 Governor’s Ag Ambassador Award for South Dakota. Bones was presented the award by Gov. Kristi Noem during the recent Governor’s Ag Summit.

A fourth-generation producer, Bones with his family operates a diversified crop, livestock and commercial agribusiness. He says he believes in the importance of advocating for agriculture on all levels: nationally, regionally and locally, including regularly hosting tours that feature his family’s diverse operation, conservation efforts and promotion of the agricultural lifestyle.

Promoting agriculture

“I am what I am because of where I came from,” Bones said in his acceptance speech. “God’s blessed us all with many talents, and one of the biggest blessings is my family. They encouraged me, all of us, as we’re involved in a number of things, so my brothers and sisters took over.”

He credits his parents for his involvement: “They really embraced public service and encouraged us to be active in the community.”

Bones traces his life of public service back almost 40 years ago with the Jaycees, serving as president of the state’s organization. Since then, he has added service on multiple boards and committees including:

  • Ag Advisory Board for former Gov. Dennis Daugaard

  • South Dakota Corn Growers Board

  • Avera Foundation Board

  • South Dakota Cattleman’s Association Board

  • South Dakota ag secretary, 2011-13

Realizing the importance of getting the next generation interested and involved in agriculture, Bones is active in Junior Achievement and South Dakota Ag in the Classroom. Through Ag in the Classroom, Bones said that 92% of the state’s fourth graders are exposed to agriculture education.

In addition to educating the next generation about agriculture, he sees the need for more of the younger generations to take the torch from himself and others like him, carrying on the agriculture advocacy message.

Watch this video to hear Bones talk about his involvement in agriculture and the importance of others promoting the industry.

Bones joins previous Ag Ambassador Award recipients:

  • 2021, Jeff Lakner

  • 2019, Paul Casper

  • 2018, Roger Scheibe

  • 2017, Lake Area Technical College

  • 2016, Michelle Rook

  • 2015, Bob Thaler

  • 2014, Brad Greenway

  • 2013, Mike Held

  • 2012, Jim Wooster

  • 2011, Dan Gee

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

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