Michigan Farm Bureau has announced its centennial-year Young Farmer Award winners in the categories of Achievement, Excellence in Agriculture, Agriculture Leader and Agriculture Employee.
ACHIEVEMENT: Rich Baker, St. Joseph County
Rich Baker grew up on his family’s hog, cattle and row crop farm in Sturgis. An active FFA and 4-H member, he was a national parliamentary procedure and agriculture issue contest finalist before taking over the family business in 2011. Currently the sole owner and operator, Baker maximizes the profitability of more than 1,100 acres of irrigated seed corn, commercial corn, soybeans and alfalfa. He also manages a 3,000-head swine finishing facility and a 30-acre apple orchard and agritourism business.
Baker is responsible for all day-to-day facets of the operation, including employee management, input decisions, marketing and contracting, irrigation, record keeping and maximizing farm profitability. From custom spraying potatoes to seed corn detassling, custom planting and harvesting field crops to cider and doughnuts, he has utilized diversification strategies to improve his bottom line.
Rich has been a volunteer firefighter and certified medical first responder for 14 years, township board trustee for seven and local FFA Alumni chapter president for five. He recently stepped down from the State Young Farmer Committee, has an extensive Farm Bureau resume and is very active supporting 4-H and the county fair.
Baker and his wife Cody have one daughter, Zoey.
He will receive a Kubota tractor lease, $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate and an expense-paid trip to the 2020 AFBF Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas to compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award national contest, sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
EXCELLENCE: Joseph Ankley, Lapeer County
Joseph Ankley grew up on his family’s dairy and cash crop farm and was active in 4-H and FFA. He has applied his passions for those programs into his career as an agriscience educator and FFA advisor. Ankley is responsible for creating curricula that reinforces topics in the areas of agriculture, food and natural resources and managing the school’s experiential learning spaces including a greenhouse, livestock facility, floral shop and community produce garden. As an FFA advisor, he is responsible for providing opportunities for his students to gain premier leadership, personal growth and career success.
Ankley is a member of the Lapeer County Young Farmer group and assists with the local Project RED (Rural Education Day), developing presentations led by high school students. He also helps coordinate numerous Agriculture in the Classroom activities at the local school.
Ankley lives in Port Austin and farms in Imlay City.
He will receive a three-month lease of a Michigan CAT skid steer, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate and an expense paid trip to the 2020 AFBF Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas to compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award national contest, sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
LEADER: Jarris Rubingh, Antrim County
Jarris Rubingh is one of four generations working his family’s 110-year-old dairy and crop farm near Ellsworth. On the dairy side, he focuses on butterfat and protein to increase the monthly milk check as well as overall profitability.
Rubingh currently serves as Antrim County Farm Bureau president and has a drive to continue to improve the organization, developing leaders in the next generation of farmers. He hopes to run for local township board in the coming years.
Rubingh and his wife Rebekah and their
five children—Jerusha, Jemima, Julia, Jethro and Juduthun—live near Ellsworth.
He will receive a lease on a New Holland compact tractor with a loader or a New Holland Rustler Utility Vehicle from Burnips Equipment, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate and an expense-paid trip to the 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference.
EMPLOYEE: Brenda Sisung, Clinton County
Brenda Sisung is employed by an innovative, diversified and progressive farm raising corn, soybeans and wheat. The operation also includes a custom farming enterprise, Pioneer sales team and Encirca agent, retail crop protection, AgroLiquid retail partnership and Precision Planting sales and service.
Sisung serves as the lead Pioneer sales associate for the agency as well as managing the seed warehouse and on-demand soybean seed treatment system. She also plays an integral role in the marketing of the operation as well as its social media presence.
The St. Johns resident will receive $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 2020 AFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference.
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 award winners and finalists will be recognized at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 100th Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5 in Grand Rapids.