By Amelia Miller
LANSING — Michigan Farm Bureau has named Joseph Ankley of Lapeer County, Chris and Karly Creguer of Tuscola County, Greg and Alysa Sanford of Jackson County and Theresa Sisung of Clinton County as the 2018 Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award finalists.
The Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes a successful young agriculturalist or couple, ages 18-25, for their contributions to the agriculture community through involvement in Farm Bureau and other industry organizations. Recipients hold off-farm jobs within the agriculture, food or natural resource sector and do not derive a majority of their income from a production agriculture venture.
Finalists will compete in an interview process on April 6 to select the statewide winner. Each finalist will receive a $400 cash prize and jacket compliments of the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture. The winner will receive 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, Louisiana to compete in the Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award national competition sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
Agricultural education has had an impact on Joseph’s life since his first 4-H project, then progressing to FFA membership in high school and being elected to serve as a Michigan FFA State Officer. Today, Joseph provides these opportunities to his own students as the agriscience educator and FFA advisor at North Huron Schools in Huron County. There, he teaches introduction to agriscience, biology and agriscience, zoology and the environment and advanced agriscience classes to more than 150 students in grades 6-12. He also manages the school’s experiential learning spaces including a greenhouse, livestock facility, floral shop, community produce garden and a small land lab raising potatoes. As FFA advisor, Joseph mentors students in leadership development and skills contests as well as community outreach and social activities. Joseph has extended his agricultural education efforts far beyond his classroom, serving on an advisory committee for Foreign Links Around the Globe (FLAG.) He has also provided high school students an international experience taking five American students to Uganda for two weeks and bringing six Ugandan high school exchange students to the US. As time allows, Joseph assists on his family’s dairy and cash crop farm in Lapeer County. He is a member of the Lapeer County Farm Bureau. Joseph holds bachelor’s degrees in agriscience education and animal science from Michigan State University.
Chris and Karly Creguer
Chris and Karly Creguer have a passion for volunteering. The couple has combined this with their careers in food and agriculture in their personal and professional lives. Chris works as an account manager for Pioneer seed, managing 14 independent sales representatives in the thumb region. Raised on a small beef cattle farm, Chris’ involvement in agriculture has grown from helping his father to owning 100 acres of his own land to raise cash crops. Together with Karly, he recently began direct marketing freezer beef to local customers. Karly is employed as a nutrition instructor with Michigan State University Extension. Though Karly wasn’t raised on a farm, her professional role has strong ties to agriculture. She works to teach the community how their food is raised, how to make healthy eating choices and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle while staying on a budget. Karly has combined her professional skill with Farm Bureau involvement to educate students at Project Rural Education Day (RED), Breakfast on the Farm and other events helping children make the direct tie between nutrition and where their food comes from. She also serves as the interact co-leader with the Caro Rotary Club. Chris serves as chairperson of the advisory board for the Tuscola County Tech Center’s agriscience education program. Both are active in St. Christopher Parish, leading youth group overseas mission trips. Karly holds a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Central Michigan University. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Michigan State University. The couple has a 1-year-old daughter, Meredith.
Alysa and Greg Sanford
Deeply rooted in agriculture, Alysa and Greg are raising their family on a 200-acre centennial farm in Jackson County, raising corn, soybeans, pumpkins, wheat, hay, laying hens and turkeys. Alysa began her career as an agriscience educator and held a position as a nutrition educator in school districts in Ohio and Michigan. Currently, she manages the day-to-day operation of their farm while raising the couple’s four children. She uses social media as a platform to not only market their farm products, but also show customers how the food is raised throughout the year. Greg is employed by Winfield United, a subsidiary of Land O’ Lakes, as a direct sales manager of plant nutrition and performance. His territory includes Michigan and portions of Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In this role, he assists retail sellers and agronomists to bring value to their growers through proper use of Winfield products and technology. Alysa uses her educational experience to serve as the Promotion and Education chairperson for Jackson County Farm Bureau where she manages volunteers to host the annual Project Rural Education Day (RED) event reaching more than 1,200 local third graders. She also has been featured on a local radio show, Jackson Ag Today, further educating consumers about agriculture in their community. Greg’s volunteerism includes roles on the Jackson County Conservation District board of directors, Springport High School’s agriscience education advisory board, the county Farmland Preservation Committee and within the county Farm Bureau. The couple is also actively involved the Family Bible Church. Alysa holds a bachelor’s degree in agriscience education from Michigan State University. Greg holds a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness and applied economics from Ohio State University. Greg and Alysa reside in Rives Junction with their four children, Adalyn, Haven, Judson and Truman.
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. Her involvement in agriculture extends far beyond her day job. Theresa is actively engaged in her family’s cash crop and cattle farm. She assists in all aspects of the crop farm as well as caring for and showing cattle. She serves on the board of the Michigan Shorthorn Lassie Association. Her niche within the family farm includes photographing cattle and the design of marketing materials. In addition, she owns, breeds and sells pigs for children to show at the county fair. Theresa serves on the county 4-H Livestock Committee as the swine chairperson. She volunteers for the Ag Community Relief organization, a group dedicated to helping farmers across the country who have experienced devastation due to natural disasters. She maintains the organization’s website and serves as the donation/volunteer coordinator. She is a member of the Clinton County Farm Bureau, currently holding the office of vice president. Theresa holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in agribusiness from Kansas State University.
Michigan Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer Award program honors deserving individuals in the categories of Young Agriculture Leader, Achievement, Employee and Excellence in Agriculture. All finalists and award recipients will be recognized at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 99th Annual Meeting, November 26-29, 2018 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.