Twelve young farmers will participate in the Junior Chamber International (Wisconsin Jaycees) Outstanding Young Farmer Awards Weekend Jan. 28-29 in Eau Claire hosted by the Prairie du Chien Jaycees and other OYF supporters. The candidates include:
• Ryan and Sarah Radecki, Pulaski, Shawano County OYF sponsor
• Aaron and Holly Nelson, Richland Center, Richland County OYF
• Tim and Shana Johnson, Baraboo, Reedsburg Area Jaycees
• Bruce and Jolene Gumz, Dorchester, Marathon County Partnership for Progressive Agriculture
• Jeff/Mark & Kelli Elmhorst, Granton
• Jeff and Debbie Wille, Barron County Ag Promoters
• Brian and Renee Schaal, Burlington, Watertown Area OYF & Racine County Farm Bureau
• Mark and Amelia Duley, Merrill
• Patty and Gary Edelburg, Scandinavia, Green Bay Jaycees
• Ben and Nichole Peterson, Grantsburg, Lookout Ridge Consulting & Burnett Dairy
• Joe and Angie Draeger, Ripon
• Scot & Jennifer Zimmerman, Osseo, Chippewa Valley OYF
The OYF candidates reflect the diversity within Wisconsin agriculture. They are sponsored to the state event by local Jaycee chapters or other agricultural groups; where confirmed, sponsors are listed above. Sponsors can still contribute to the overall event or a specific candidate.
The Awards Weekend will be at The Plaza Hotel & Suites, Eau Claire. Besides networking on farm and family issues at the two-day event, the young farmers will participate in a "Speak up for Ag" workshop led by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board staff, and tour two unique area farms as well as Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Chippewa Falls.
The 2011 state OYF winner will be named Saturday evening at the finale banquet. Also recognized will be several runners-up and a "Speak up for Ag" winner. The state winner will be nominated to the US Junior Chamber's February 2012 national Awards Congress.
The 2010 state winners, Ryan and Michelle Keller of Richland Center, were just named one of 10 finalists to attend national OYF Awards Congress held Feb. 17-20, 2011 in Louisville, KY. The 2009 state winners, Dennis and Donna Bergsbaken of Bonduel were a top 10 finalist and traveled to Awards Congress in Raleigh, NC, earlier this year.
The OYF award is based on 50 percent progress in ag career, 25 percent soil and water conservation and 25 percent contributions to community, state or nation. Goals of the OYF program are:
• To foster better urban-rural relations through the understanding of farmers' challenges, as well as the appreciation of their contributions and achievements;
• To bring about a greater interest in farmers/ranchers;
• To help build an urban awareness of the farmers' importance and impact on America's economy.
Now in its 58th year, Wisconsin OYF has had 14 national winners. On the national level, OYF is sponsored by John Deere and supported by the Outstanding Farmers of America Fraternity and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.