The American Farm Bureau Federation may have mistimed their meeting for Hoosiers to get full benefit of the balmy southern climate vs. January in Indiana, since visitors to the annual convention in New Orleans returned home jus tin time for last weekend's deep freeze. But otherwise, the recovering city was kind to its visitors from Indiana. Hoosier Farm Bureau members brought back top national honors in two exclusive categories. As far as anyone knows, it's the first time Indiana Farm Bureau members have captured first place in both of these categories at the national level in the same year.
Dave and Kelly Ferguson, Madison, were named winners of the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement award. The beat out contestants from nearly every state, including a prestigious group that made up the top 10 finalists.
As the contest winners they received a 2008 Dodge Ram 3500 from Dodge, plus a $1,000 product voucher from Valvoline. In addition, the Hoosier couple receive free registration to attend the AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference, held from Feb. 16 to 18 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Runners up hailed from Texas, Nevada, Florida and Arizona. Those couples received a Case IH DX compact tractor, plus $500 in product from Valvoline.
The award is reportedly based upon two categories- those who have excelled in their farming and/or ranching operations, and those who show 'superior leadership abilities.' When it comes to assessing the farming aspect, both a combination of their operation's financial growth and leadership outside of Farm Bureau are considered.
Meanwhile, Don Shoemaker, Vallonia, hit the other home run for Indiana at the AFBF annual convention. He won the prestigious Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion meet. This grueling contest begins with fierce competition at the state level in Indiana during the Indiana Farm Bureau Convention in December.
Shoemaker takes home a 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 courtesy of Dodge. He also receives free registration to the 2008 YF & R Leadership Conference.
Frank Holdmeyer, executive editor of Farm Progress publications for Midwest books, including Indiana Prairie Farmer, attended the conference and field this report. Ironically, Prairie Farmer writer Holly Spangler and her husband, John, represented Illinois in the Young Farmer and Rancher competition. They scored a top 10 finish in that contest.
Congratulations to all the winners!