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2024 Young Farmer Leader finalists announced

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. Image credit: Michigan Farm Bureau
Date Posted: April 10, 2024

Michigan Farm Bureau is honored to recognize the up-and-coming leaders of Michigan agriculture. All 16 finalists for MFB’s 2024 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 2024 state winner will receive a lease on a New Holland compact tractor from Burnips Equipment; a $1,000 AgroLiquid Certificate; and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF FUSION Conference. 

The four finalists for MFB’s 2024 Young Farmer Agriculture Leader Award are:

Emily Boeve — Ottawa

Emily Boeve portrait.

Emily Boeve farms near Zeeland with her parents and brother, raising livestock to supply her growing meat business. Her current annual herd consists of 45 brood cows, 40 ewes for club lambs, and a handful of dairy goats. Her business also processes around 24 beef steers, 10 lambs, 10 goats and 18-24 hogs.

“I’m in charge of pricing, delivery, website development, marketing and product management,” said Boeve, a savvy businesswoman whose herd supplies an on-farm retail outlet and several farmers markets in surrounding communities.

“I would love for my retail business to be able to fully supply a couple of restaurants,” she said, although doing so now would mean expanding beyond the operation’s current capacity.

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

An active member of the Ottawa County Farm Bureau, Boeve currently serves on the board of directors’ executive committee.

“The value of the membership to me is the ability to use Farm Bureau as a platform to promote and support agriculture in my county and state,” she said. “It’s a way of getting the message out to people in government — with policy and a grassroots force to support the fight on the home front.”

John Bowsky — Sanilac

John Bowsky portrait.

Fourth-generation farmer John Bowsky raises 500 acres of soybeans and red wheat outside Brown City in Sanilac County, working alongside his sisters Jessica and Jennifer. 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 centennial farm so the next generation can prosper on it 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 with what he needs to get the job done.

Bowsky thanks Farm Bureau for the leadership skills he leverages to “take my farm to the next level and to work smarter,” he said.

“Our grass-roots organization 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.

Kyle Rasch — Ottawa

Kyle Rasch portrait.

Kyle Rasch is the sixth-generation manager of his family’s 240-acre apple and peach orchard in Ottawa County. He harbors a deep appreciation for the dedication his predecessors invested in the business.

“I take great pride in being the sixth generation,” he said, pledging to continue enriching his experience and taking on challenging discussions, including the bigger-picture conversations Farm Bureau joins on behalf of its members.

“Farm Bureau membership allows me to network with other individuals about issues they're having that I can bring back to better my own operation,” Rasch said. “I aim to continue having my eye on new developments and issues in agriculture — and to continue doing my part to advocate for my industry.”

Moving forward he anticipates increased focus on fresh consumer trends and other key forces influencing the tree fruit industry.

“My goals for the future include continuing to be a voice for agriculture and the issues that present themselves,” he said. “I also plan to stay on the cutting edge of new technology so my family’s farm can continue to prosper.”

Another great value of Farm Bureau membership, he added, is in having his voice represented and amplified, legislatively in both Lansing and D.C. — especially when it comes to informing everyday consumers about the vital work farmers do.

Allison Schafer — Clinton

Allison Schafer portrait.

Allison Schafer farms with her parents as part of the team at Jem-Lot Dairy, near Westphalia in Clinton County, milking 300 head, raising another 250 of young stock and growing 400 acres of corn and soybeans.

As the Clinton County Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer chair, Schafer takes pride in being part of the current (2024-25) ProFILE cohort.

“Being chosen to participate in ProFILE has helped me continue to make improvements in myself and my leadership,” she said.

Moving forward she plans to continue striving toward her goal of building her agricultural legacy.

“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.”

To that end she appreciates the opportunities the organization provides ambitious young farmers like herself.

“The value of my Farm Bureau membership means so much to me,” she said. “Not only has it brought me my fiancé and lifelong friends, it’s also ensured that I will be able to farm and leave a legacy for the next generation.”

Megan Sprague headshot

Megan Sprague

Young Farmer Programs Specialist
517-679-5658 [email protected]