GRAND RAPIDS — Four exemplary young farmers were honored for their achievements Nov. 27 at Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) 2018 Annual Meeting. First named during National Agriculture Week in March, this year’s recipients of MFB’s Young Farmer Awards were recognized one last time for their outstanding accomplishments in four award categories.
Young Farmer Awards recognize successful young agriculturalists from county Farm Bureaus for outstanding achievement in their professions and leadership in the agricultural community.
Snapshots of the winners in all four categories:
YOUNG FARMER ACHIEVEMENT — Bryan Heffron of Kent County operates Heffron Farms and Heffron Farms Markets in Kent County in partnership with his father and brother. The business began with Bryan’s great-grandfather in 1921, then including livestock, crops, a custom thrashing business and sawmill. Since then, the operation has evolved to meet consumer demand, now raising grain-fed beef cattle and marketing that beef—as well as pork, turkey, chicken, fruits and vegetables—at four farm markets. The store has also ventured into an online retail market.
On the farm, Bryan manages employees and the cropping aspects of the operation. In the retail markets, he maintains all computer technology to support sales and inventory. He’s also passionate about giving tours of their farm and markets to show consumers how food is raised.
MFB’s Young Farmer Achievement Award winner receives a Kubota tractor lease, $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate and an expense-paid trip to the 2019 AFBF Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La. to compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award contest, sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
|YF Achievement winner Bryan Heffron, with his wife Katie, are flanked by Doug Rudd (left) and Kyle Long (right) of Kubota Tractor.|
EXCELLENCE IN AGRICULTURE — Theresa Sisung of Clinton County earned this year’s excellence award, designed to recognize young farmers (individuals or married couples) who do not derive the majority of their income from a personally owned farm business but who actively contribute to and grow through their involvement in Farm Bureau and agriculture.
Theresa works as the advocacy and outreach director for the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan. In this role, she relies upon her agricultural background to manage the organization’s outreach, livestock, water quality and production-related programs. She has implemented a new program to provide young farmer-aged corn growers tools and networking to be more successful within their own family farms. Each summer, Theresa coordinates the Between the Rows Tour where staff of the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan travel across the state checking corn yields and hosting educational meetings at farms. In addition, Theresa represents the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan on several industry-wide organizations including the Michigan Ag Council, Breakfast on the Farm Committee and the Great Lakes Crop Summit.
Sisung holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in agribusiness from Kansas State University.
Theresa receives a three-month lease of a Michigan CAT skidsteer, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate and an expense paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La. to compete in the Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award competition sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
| YF Excellence winner Theresa Sisung with Doug Brock from MI CAT.|
YOUNG AGRICULTURE EMPLOYEE — Lyndsay Earl of Mason County earned MFB’s 2018 Young Farmer Agriculture Employee Award in recognition of her contributions to the success and long-term profitability of her employer’s business. Nominees are also judged on their leadership involvement in Farm Bureau, agriculture and their community.
Lyndsay is employed as a member representative with Michigan Milk Producers Association dairy cooperative. In her role, Lyndsay works with dairy farms ranging from 10 to 1,500 cows. Earl assists farmers in monitoring milk quality, delivers training on effective, healthy milking procedures and provides recommendations on overall cow herd health. Lyndsay supervises an internship program offering a work-based experience for second-year veterinary medicine students.
Earl is actively engaged in agricultural education efforts within Mason County and at the state level through Michigan Farm Bureau’s State Promotion and Education Committee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University. Lyndsay, her husband, Seth, and their two daughters, McKenzie and Madisyn, reside in Ludington.
Lyndsay receives $5,000 off the first lease payment on a 100-horsepower or larger tractor from GreenMark Equipment, $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate and an expense paid trip to the 2019 AFBF FUSION Conference sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
| YF Employee winner Lyndsay Earl with John Kacsits of GreenMark Equipment. |
YOUNG AGRICULTURE LEADER — Kristi Keilen of Clinton County earned this year’s leader award for her outstanding leadership in Farm Bureau, agriculture and her local community.
Kristi is a fourth-generation dairy farmer milking approximately 450 cows three times per day on her family’s Clinton County farm. The farm also grows grains and hay as feed for the cattle. Kristi manages the dairy portion of the farm, taking care of the calves, scheduling employees and managing the accounting.
Kristi has served in numerous roles within the Clinton County Farm Bureau, including currently holding the office of president. She initiated reviving the Project Rural Education Day agricultural education event, hosting more than 300 students from just one school district alone. In dairy industry organizations, Kristi serves as a mentor to other young farmers.
Keilen holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science and agronomy from Michigan State University. Kristi and her husband, Matthew, have a 2-year-old son, Brody.
Kristi receives a lease on a New Holland compact tractor with a loader or a New Holland rustler 4wd utility vehicle from Burnips Equipment, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate and an expense paid trip to the 2019 American Farm Bureau Federation FUSION Conference sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
| YF Leader winner Kristi Keilen, with husband Matt (left) and Craig Vanderkolk of Burnips Equipment (right).|