Six Iowa farm families will be recognized as recipients of the 2019 Way We Live Award at the upcoming Iowa State Fair. Entry form nominations included a description of how living on a farm and choosing the farming occupation shaped the nominee's farm family life. These families are examples of farm values derived from hard work and a love for farming.
The award in its 11th year has recognized a total of 63 outstanding Iowa farm families. Each award-winning family receives a prize package of $250, complimentary admission tickets, free parking, various coupons and recognition in the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center during the fair, along with an overnight hotel stay at the Holiday Inn Downtown Mercy Campus.
The following families will be honored at the Animal Learning Center Stage at 11:30 a.m. on the designated days:
Demmer family, Aug. 9. The Rick and Kathy Demmer family of Peosta owns Le-O-La Holsteins, a dairy farm whose focus is to produce safe and wholesome products for the public. The farm was started by Leo and Stella, Rick's parents. In 1991, Rick and Kathy transitioned into ownership of Le-O-La Holsteins, where they built onto the original barn and doubled their herd size over the next few years.
Currently, they milk 83 registered Holsteins and two Jersey cows, with around 150 young stock. The Demmers focus on breeding high-quality cattle that are backed by a deep pedigree to make for a more sustainable and profitable animal. The family members have served in ag leadership roles in their community and Iowa, and welcome visitors to their farm to learn about agriculture and the dairy industry.
The Demmer children and family members were active in 4-H and Iowa Junior Holstein, and participated in dairy quiz bowls and judging. The Demmer family believes raising children on a farm teaches them valuable life skills that result in a good work ethic and will lead to success later in life. Children learn to respect their farm family's livelihood, knowing when they sit with their family at meal time, they were able to produce the food on the table.
Hagen family, Aug. 10. The Todd and Wendy Hagen family has been farming in the Homestead area for around 120 years. Crops grown on the Hagen family farm include corn, soybeans and hay, as well as a cow-calf operation. Todd began farming in 1983, and his son Taylor in 2018. Taylor is the fifth-generation to farm in the Hagen family. Todd oversees the day-to-day management of the farm, while Wendy manages the bookkeeping, farm and family organization. Taylor takes care of the crops, cattle, and maintenance and repair of farm equipment.
Family farming traditions include participating and attending the county fair and having meals in the field during fall harvest. Sons Taylor and Tanner were both active in 4-H showing calves and doing ag projects. The Hagens strive to be ag ambassadors by being good stewards of the land and good herdsmen of the farm operation. Farming has had an impact on the Hagen family life, as they feel blessed to be surrounded by family everyday while working together on the family farm.
Moretz family, Aug. 11. Moretz Family Farms of Kensett consists of row crops, including corn, soybeans and hay, and has a large focus on livestock with cow-calf and farrow-to-finish hog operation. In 1969, Arthur and Sharon purchased the current home farm. All members of the Moretz family work together to achieve a common goal, as everything they do as a family revolves around the farming operation.
Three generations, Arthur, Dean and Nathan, run the day-to-day operation of the farm by taking care of the cattle, repairs and crop work. Nathan and wife Melissa handle the responsibilities of the wean-to-finish pigs. Nathan's brothers, Mitchell and Timen, help in spring and fall with fieldwork and harvest. Dean's wife Tanna runs the grain cart in the fall and helps move equipment in spring. Sharon used to run the combine every fall.
Other family members help by providing meals during the busy times of the year. Several members of the family serve on various ag-related boards and other community organizations.
Sickelka family, Aug. 13. On their family farm in Sutherland, the Joel Sickelka family raises cow-calf pairs and feed beef cattle, as well as soybeans, corn and hay. All family members are involved in the farm operation. Joel works alongside family members to do the planting and harvesting, and his wife and children have helped by spending hours baling hay, fixing fence, picking up rocks and sorting cattle. The Sickelka children were all involved in 4-H and found the O'Brien County Fair to be a special place because of family atmosphere.
The family farm operation has been influential in their lives as they have learned to take care of others through the lessons of compassion, responsibility and humility. Growing up on a farm has taught the family the value of a strong work ethic and selflessness.
Anderson family, Aug. 14. In 1968, Colleen “Coke” Anderson and her husband purchased a 270-acre farm in Sioux Rapids in Clay County. Initially raising sheep and having a corn-soybean-alfalfa rotation, the farm has centered their focus on raising pullets.
Now called M&C Anderson Pullets , the farm raises between 4 million and 5 million pullets annually. Coke is a member of the Iowa Poultry Association and an environmental committee member of United Egg Producer, as well as being a former chairman of the board of the American Egg Board and having served on the Iowa Egg Council. Coke believes that “a job worth doing is worth doing well.”
On the farm, there are many different jobs, and each one is important to the whole enterprise. Over the past 51 years, Coke has had many family members and employees who have helped her achieve more success than she could have ever envisioned. One of her greatest joys has been seeing them move on to greater responsibilities and successes, and knowing she had a part in those accomplishments.
Cummings family, Aug. 17. The Cummings Family Farms in Pleasantville has changed since its beginnings in 1955 by the head of the family, James. In 1955, James returned home from the Air Force during the Korean War and moved his family to establish roots in rural Marion County. There, he raised hogs, dairy cattle, sheep and beef cattle, teaching his children the value of growing up on a farm and sparking a family tradition that continues today.
Today, James' sons, Don and Larry, have transitioned their focus to row crops and cattle. Don's son Connor has joined the operation to develop a sizable cow-calf, row crop and forage operation. Other business endeavors include fencing, tiling and auctioneering.
The Cummings family believes in the future of the ag industry and focuses on working with the youth in the community to teach them the importance of farming and agriculture in society. Don, Larry and Connor have served as swine superintendents for over 30 years at the Marion County Fair. Carly Cummings is the treasurer for the Pleasantville FFA Alumni chapter, and Connor's wife, Haley, is a preschool teacher who uses the farm to educate her students on the importance of farmers.
Go online for more information on past award winners or the current 2019 the Way We Live Award winning families.
This year’s Iowa State Fair is Aug. 8-18. Ranked as one of the top events in the country, the Iowa State Fair is the single-largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country.