Michigan young farmers Richard Baker of St. Joseph County, Joe Ankley of Lapeer County, and Cora Okkema of Mecosta County were among the top finishers at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 101st annual convention, a national competition demonstrating their knowledge of and achievement in agriculture.
Baker, who raises hogs, cattle and grows row crops in Sturgis, finished third in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award. He will receive a Case IH 40-inch Combination Roll Cabinet and Top Chest and a $500 Case IH parts card, courtesy of Case IH. In addition, Baker will take home $2,200 worth of Stanley Black & Decker merchandise, courtesy of Stanley Black & Decker.
The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers who have excelled in their farming operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation’s growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau leadership and leadership outside of Farm Bureau.
Ankley, an agriscience educator and FFA advisor in Port Austin, finished runner-up in the Excellence in Agriculture competition. He will receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor, courtesy of Case IH.
The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers who do not derive most of their income from an agricultural operation, but actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.
Okkema, from Mecosta County, made it to the Sweet 16 round of the Young Farmer Discussion Meet contest. The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.
Okkema’s roots are in Blanchard, where her family operates a 675-head dairy farm. She is currently working toward a master’s degree in livestock behavior and welfare at Colorado State University with Dr. Temple Grandin. She plans to serve her fellow farmers through research, education, and continual improvement of industry practices.