LANSING, Dec.1 - Four Michigan Farm Bureau young farmers, declared state winners earlier this year in their respective contest categories, were recognized Nov. 30 during the organization’s virtual 2020 State Annual Meeting.
Selected from a pool of more than 45 highly-qualified contestants vying for awards this year, Megan Sprague, manager of MFB’s Young Farmer department, said the winners exemplify the hardworking, committed, passionate character of Michigan agriculture.
“Our Young Farmer Award winners are a who’s-who of young, passionate agriculture leaders who take time to give back through service to the agricultural organizations that work to support Michigan’s food and farm sector,” Sprague said.
According to Sprague, Michigan’s best young farmers, ages 18-35, compete annually in categories geared toward measuring their agricultural involvement, leadership and achievements.
This year’s state award winners were:
Agriculture Achievement Award winner
Terry Page raises 2,600 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa in Ionia County alongside his father. They also provide custom forage harvesting to eight dairy farms and custom harvesting for three local crop farms.
“My agricultural career started in my youth as a tag-a-long beside my father and grandfather, but my first ‘real’ experience came when I had the opportunity to rent land from two of my neighbors in high school,” Page said.
“With the income from this acreage, I was able to pay for seed, usage of equipment, other harvest and planting expenses and feed for my farrow to finish operation. My dream was always to be a partner in the family business established in 1949 by my grandfather, and in 2008, this dream came true and I was made a 40% partner.
“My plans focus on the need to keep the business productive and adaptable to market trends. At this point in time, this means expanding for the foreseeable future.”
Page and his wife, Jody, have two boys, Gavin and Garret.
The Agriculture Achievement Award recognizes a successful young Farm Bureau member or married couple for outstanding achievement in the business of farming and leadership in the agricultural community.
Applicants are judged on their farm management ability and involvement in Farm Bureau and other organizations.
As the state winner, Page receives a lease on a Kubota tractor, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate, and will compete virtually in the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award national competition in January 2021.
Excellence in Agriculture Award winner
Katelyn Thompson works as a farm, ranch and equine underwriter for an insurance firm, in addition to raising beef cattle and running a metal design and fabrication business in Eaton County.
“As an underwriter of farm insurance, I determine if a risk is a good fit for our company,” Thompson said. “More importantly, it’s about making sure that if a farmer has a debilitating loss that their policy has the necessary coverage to put the pieces back together.
“As a 4-H leader, I work with youth and their parents to gain a better understanding of livestock production and how to raise a profitable project in terms of learning and financially,” she continued.
“As a volunteer and member in non-ag organizations, I look for opportunities to incorporate agriculture to help bridge the three- to four-generation gap of agriculture familiarity in our population. From planning a promotion and education event at my local zoo in their farm yard area, to focusing Toastmaster speeches on my agriculture interests, I advocate for agriculture in all facets of my life.”
Thompson lives in Charlotte and serves on the Eaton County Farm Bureau board of directors.
The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers (individuals or married couples) who do not derive most of their income from a personally owned agricultural operation but who actively contribute to and grow through their involvement in Farm Bureau and agriculture.
As the state winner, Thompson receives a three-month lease of a Michigan CAT Skidsteer, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate, and will compete virtually in the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award national competition in January 2021.
Agriculture Leader Award winner
Katelyn Packard is a Washtenaw County dairy farmer, milking 400 cows and raising 800 acres of corn, alfalfa, wheat, soybeans and forage crops with her grandparents, parents, brother and husband.
“My leadership activity over the past five years includes involvement on multiple county Farm Bureau committees and events, and involvement with 4-H,” Packard said.
“In 2018, I brought a new idea to our county Promotion and Education committee to host an agriculture themed trick-or-treat event,” she added. “The event grew into our now annual ‘Treat of Agriculture.’ It’s a trick-or-treat event featuring Michigan agriculture products. Instead of handing out candy, as is traditional, we hand out various agriculture products at various interactive stations.”
Packard said she’s implemented a farm open-house, inviting neighbors to the farm to have some ice cream.
“It’s a great community builder, not just around where the farm is, but where I live, 3 miles from the farm,” Packard said. “It’s helped to not only get to know my neighbors but create greater understanding about agriculture. I also enjoy being a 4-H leader as it gives me an opportunity to share my passion for dairy and agriculture with youth.
“I continue to build the 4-H dairy project in our county,” she continued. “I offer our farm and our cattle to 4-H members who don’t have their own cattle to use for their dairy project. Last year, I had two individuals use cattle from my farm for their dairy project, and this year I anticipate having six youth take advantage of this opportunity.”
Packard and her husband, Joe, live in Manchester.
The Agriculture Leader Award recognizes successful young farmers for outstanding leadership roles in Farm Bureau, agriculture, and his or her local community. Contestants are judged on their ability to actively serve in leadership roles while managing a successful farm operation.
As the state winner, Packard receives a lease on a New Holland compact tractor or utility vehicle from Burnips Equipment, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate, and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF FUSION Conference in Portland, Oregon, currently scheduled for March 12-15, 2021, sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
Agriculture Employee Award winner
Tera Baker recently joined Nedap Livestock Management North America as their applications and marketing manager. Nedap is a global leader in automated dairy and swine herd management technology.
“I’m excited about this new opportunity with Nedap where I’ll work with their dairy business partners to spearhead technology advancement and help drive the team’s marketing efforts,” Baker said. “I’ve spent the past decade working on the supply side of agriculture in pharmaceuticals and technology. My tenure includes several years in sales and marketing for animal health companies, followed by technical sales and sales management for precision-feeding technology.
“I’m looking forward to working with this team, the technology and a company that’s been in the dairy technology space for decades yet is filled with a can-do, entrepreneurial spirit."
Baker grew up on her family’s dairy and crop farm in Southwest Michigan and was active in 4-H and FFA. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agri-business management from Michigan State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Central Michigan University.
Baker and her husband, Shawn, reside in Three Oaks, Berrien County.
The Agriculture Employee Award recognizes young farmers’ contributions as employees to the success and long-term profitability of the operations which employed them. Nominees are also judged on their leadership involvement in Farm Bureau, agriculture and their community.
As the state winner, Baker receives $5,000 off the first payment of a lease or installment on a 100-horsepower or larger tractor from GreenMark Equipment, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate, and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF FUSION Conference in Portland, Oregon, currently scheduled for March 12-15, 2021, sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
All award finalists receive a Michigan Farm Bureau jacket. Award finalists also receive a $400 cash prize from the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.