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2023 Young Farmer Leader finalists announced

Date Posted: March 31, 2023

Michigan Farm Bureau is honored to recognize the up-and-coming leaders of Michigan agriculture. All 16 finalists for MFB’s 2023 Young Farmer Awards have been announced, including four in the Ag Leader category.

The Young Farmer Agriculture Leader Award honors successful young agriculturalists who earn the majority of their income from a farm operation, for their outstanding leadership in Farm Bureau, farming and throughout the agricultural community. 

The 2023 state winner will receive a lease on a New Holland compact tractor or utility vehicle from Burnips Equipment; a $1,000 AgroLiquid Certificate; and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference. 

The four finalists for MFB’s 2023 Young Farmer Agriculture Leader Award are:

Emily Boeve — Ottawa

A female young farmer smiling at the camera while standing in her kitchen.

Emily Boeve farms near Zeeland with her parents and brother, raising Dexter cattle, sheep and goats for breeding stock and to supply her growing meat business. The current herd at Shamrock Meats LLC includes 40 head of beef cattle, 60 lambs and 10 dairy and meat goats.

A savvy marketer and businesswoman, Boeve’s herd supplies the on-farm retail outlet and numerous farmers markets in nearby communities. 

Including the goat herd that started with her earliest 4-H projects, Boeve’s animals are sought out by breeders nationwide. She won the Michigan Sheep Producers Association’s 2023 Young Producer Award and looks forward to growing her meat business, including eventually a brick-n-mortar storefront. 

“Expanding our reach and marketing abilities has been key in growing our operation,” which has doubled in size since she returned from college. “I am always looking ahead and would love to expand.

“Farm Bureau has given me a platform and opportunity to work with our elected officials and bring agriculture to the table,” said Boeve, an active member of the Ottawa County Farm Bureau. “It’s given me the confidence to step outside of my comfort zone and accomplish things like talking in front of groups of people. 

“Farm Bureau has given me tools to excel in my own way and to help others learn and benefit from my experience.”

John Bowsky — Sanilac 

A male young farmer smiling at the camera while standing in front of a pond.

Fourth-generation farmer John Bowsky raises soybeans and red wheat outside Brown City in Sanilac County, working alongside his father and sisters. He also works full-time with the Blue Water Conservation District as a MAEAP technician, helping Sanilac County farmers achieve verification in the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program.

“I believe my proactive leadership, highly motivated dedication to work and knowledge of my family’s goals will be the driving force of my growth — professionally, personally and financially,” he said.

Growing his family’s farm to be sustainable and productive for future generations to come weighs heavily in Bowsky’s ambitions for the future. 

“I would like to continue growth on the farm, increasing our community involvement and continue the legacy we started four generations ago,” he said, crediting Farm Bureau for helping equip him what he needs to get the job done.

“The value of our grass-roots organization is that it gives members like me the opportunity to be involved at the county and state levels, advocating and raising our voices about issues we feel are important for our farms and community. 

“Farm Bureau opens the gates for members to be face-to-face with lawmakers in Lansing and helps us make connections that help our voices get heard where it matters the most."

Elaine Palm — Ogemaw 

A female young farmer smiling at the camera while standing in front of a flock of sheep in an enclosure.

Integral to her family’s sheep business, Elaine Palm farms with her parents — plus her husband and their young daughter when more hands are needed. Together they maintain a 400-head base flock for meat and breeding stock, raise forages and supply hay to nearby horse and cattle farms.

Beyond the farm itself she indulges in her love for informing the non-farm community about modern agricultural practices.

“Inviting people to my farm for tours is a personal passion, opening our barn doors to help people to learn about modern farming,” she said. Examples include hosting U.S. Senator Gary Peters during his statewide summer motorcycle tour; a “First Friday Farm Tour” for consumers with Michigan State University Extension; and an American Lamb Summit tour for young entrepreneurs.

“I’ve also enjoyed leading groups through multi-stop events to help them discover the different business practices used by farmers across the state. We rise by lifting others and I love being part of amplifying farmers’ voices.”

Her near-term agenda includes more community involvement; fighting food insecurity with Farm Bureau’s Agent Charitable Fund; bulking up her leadership resume; and growing her farm business.

“I also plan to complete a few new verification programs that show my farm's commitment to environmental stewardship and animal welfare practices.”

Underpinning it all is the extended Farm Bureau family she knows she can lean on for support.

“Farm Bureau is a great network of people,” she said. “As a business owner with no employees, being a member makes me feel like I have coworkers to share ideas with and learn from.”

Allison Schafer — Clinton County

A female young farmers smiling at the camera while standing in a dairy barn with her arms crossed.

Allison Schafer is part of the team at Jem-Lot Dairy outside Westphalia in Clinton County, milking 300 Holsteins, Jerseys and Ayrshires. Her parents, brother and a great uncle round out the Jem-Lot family, which in addition to the cows includes 350 acres of corn and soybeans.

As the Clinton County Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer chair, Schafer’s building her leadership credentials by the day.

“One achievement I’m proud of was our very successful District 5 Young Farmer Euchre tournament,” Schafer said. “I was amazed at how such a simple event could have such an impact. Being able to get 20 Young Farmers together was an amazing experience, and I'm proud to have played such a big role in making that event happen.

Moving forward she hopes to focus on reciprocating some of the good fortune she’s been blessed with to date.

“My goal for the future is to give back,” Schafer said. “Giving back to my family farm and carrying on our family’s tradition are just as important to me as being involved in and contributing to our Young Farmer program.”

And to that end, she’s also appreciative of all the opportunities the organization provides a young, up-n-coming farmer like herself.

“The biggest value of my Farm Bureau membership are the people I’ve connected with,” Schafer said. “I would not be the person I am today without the amazing people and mentors I’ve met along the way.”


Follow the MFB Facebook page this week for announcements of the remaining finalists — and the overall winners this Friday, April 7.