Skip to main content
Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Meet the Gibsons, winners of the 2024 YF Achievement Award

“We want to teach our two children that if you have a dream, you have to work toward it,” Alisha Gibson told Michigan Farm News. “Hopefully, we’re teaching them a strong work ethic and what it means to be responsible.” Image credit: Megan Sprague, Michigan Farm Bureau
Date Posted: July 8, 2024

Just a senior in high school, Matt Gibson decided to purchase an 800-head hog-finishing facility from his uncle. Gibson, instead of worrying about a math or English class, looked at this as an opportunity to start his forever career — in farming.

Just a senior in high school, Alisha Myers participated in 4H, worked as a corn detasseler with a local group contracting with Pioneer, and as farmhand on her family’s dairy farm. Myers planned on attending Michigan State University to study accounting.

Fourteen years later, now row crop farmers, Matt and Alisha (Myers) Gibson, who married in 2016, are winners of the 2024 Young Farmer Achievement Award, which recognizes successful young farmers who derive most of their income from an owned-production agriculture enterprise and showcases their achievements in the business of farming.

“When I was 18, I knew I was going to farm or work on a farm,” Matt, 32, told Michigan Farm News.

“I didn’t plan to go to college, so I bought my uncle’s barn. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I figured, why not?”

Today, Matt and his uncle farm via an LLC they created in 2023, managing 2,100 acres of row crops. The Gibsons transitioned first from a family farm to sole proprietorship in 2020 and back to a family farm in 2023, deciding to start Winding Creek Grain Farms LLC.

Alisha, who grew up on a dairy farm in Scotts, Michigan, works as a finance manager at WK Kellogg Co., a leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of branded ready-to-eat cereal in the U.S., Canada, and Caribbean.

Together, Matt and Alisha aim to build a sustainable future for their family while improving practices to gain efficiencies.

“We want to teach our two children that if you have a dream, you have to work toward it,” Alisha, 31, told Michigan Farm News. “Hopefully, we’re teaching them a strong work ethic and what it means to be responsible.”

Alisha said her off-farm job has allowed their family to reinvest the farm income back into the farm, which has allowed them to purchase equipment to be more self-sufficient.

“Having our own equipment is better than renting equipment or custom hiring different things,” Alisha added. “The off-farm income was then used to cover our family living expenses.”

Outside the farm, Matt serves on the Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau board as its Young Farmer chair and board member. Part of his duties include planning activities to “get farmers who could be members involved,” he said. Alisha serves on the local Promotion and Education Committee where she’s planned a Project RED and hosted several on-farm events.

To get more involvement, the couple has also started a shop tour program where members visit various agriculture operations — members or not — to see all the careers available in agriculture and build relationships amongst young farmers in their county.

Visits include two dairy farms, a row crop and hay farm, and a commercial sheep farm.

“We want to showcase agriculture,” Matt said. “And our kids go, and their kids go, and pretty soon it becomes an event that shows how connected agriculture can be. We’ve hosted four shop tours so far that have relation to agriculture. This is to bring young farmers together.”

As the 2024 state winner, Matt and Alisha will receive a lease on a Kubota tractor; a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate; and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF Annual Meeting to compete in the national Discussion Meet competition in San Antonio, Texas.

“With Farm Bureau, the common goal is we need to keep building this Young Farmer program,” Matt said.

“It’s getting so hard; our numbers are getting so low, and we need to work together to be able to recruit more people and get them involved and figure out new strategies to do that.”