For Ionia-area farmer Amanda Teachworth, dedication to agriculture reaches far beyond her family farm. Her passion for agriculture has helped guide the Ionia County Farm Bureau's promotion, education and outreach efforts in the short time she's been involved.
In recognition of her unparalleled leadership and dedication, Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) honored Teachworth as its 2013 Volunteer of the Year during a Dec. 4 ceremony at MFB's 94th Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids. Chosen from among the previous 12 Volunteers of the Month, MFB's Volunteer of the Year award goes to a member demonstrating significant commitment and focused efforts toward a Farm Bureau program or event. Teachworth was MFB's Volunteer of the Month in August, and chosen as Volunteer of the Year by a panel of Farm Bureau staff.
Since stepping into her role leading Ionia County's promotion and education efforts in 2011, Teachworth has seen her team of volunteers triple in size. She introduced the county Farm Bureau to social media, organized elementary school programs, worked with local FFA chapters and helped coordinate a mid-summer farm open house.
Teachworth coordinated the 2013 "Family Fun on the Farm" event in cooperation with neighboring Clinton County, finding host farms and helping them prepare for the more 2,200 guests they would see. She recruited volunteers and enlisted assistance from the Ionia County Library Association and fire department. Teachworth then promoted the event to elementary schools, media outlets and distributed flyers in restaurants and other local businesses.
"She doesn't think she's done anything special," said her nominator Rachelle Lehman, "But her outstanding work and commitment to Farm Bureau and agriculture has been noticed-she more than deserves this recognition."
To bridge the gap between the county Farm Bureau and local FFA chapters, Teachworth helped judge their district leadership contests. She contacted chapters with scholarship opportunities and surprised members with treats during National FFA Week to thank them for their involvement in agricultural education.
Teachworth involved FFA chapters in farm presentations during National Agriculture Week in March. She recruited volunteers to teach more than 1,200 Ionia County students and personally stuffed goody bags for each of them. She also distributed more than 4,000 Ionia County agriculture placemats to area restaurants.
In her 10 years of membership, Teachworth has represented the interests of her peers in both Lansing and Washington, D.C. She attended MFB's Voice of Agriculture Conference and served as a voting delegate at the MFB State Annual Meeting.
Teachworth and her husband Ben live outside Ionia, where they run BAT Farms along with their four children: Samantha, Braxton, Natalee and Auggie. They raise sheep, cattle, goats, horses, chickens and grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa.