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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Winners Announced for 55th Annual America & Me Essay Contest

Date Posted: April 4, 2024

Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan is pleased to announce the 10 statewide winners of the 2023-24 America & Me Essay Contest. As “Michigan’s Insurance Company”, we proudly salute these outstanding Michigan students. This year’s winners competed against more than 3,000 other students from nearly 200 Michigan junior highs and middle schools.

The student essays for this, the 55th annual contest, were based on the topic, "My Personal Michigan Hero."  The final ranking of the winners was determined by a panel of judges comprised of Farm Bureau Insurance’s CEO Don Simon; and two teachers from a top 10 statewide school winner from the 2022-‘23 contest year.

The America & Me Essay Contest was founded by Farm Bureau Insurance in 1968 to embolden Michigan youth as they explore their roles in America's future.  Since then, we have shifted our focus slightly to encourage students to write about their personal Michigan heroes—someone they know personally who encouraged and inspired them to live better and achieve more.  Since its inception, over 500,000 Michigan 8th graders have participated in the contest. 

During the 55th contest year, each recipient will receive a plaque, medallion, a cash award of $1055, $1,055 for the school they attend, and $555 to the school if the school has been sponsored by a Farm Bureau Insurance agent. 

As part of this annual recognition, an awards banquet will be held in Lansing on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.  In addition, finalists will meet with state government leaders, be honored at Cooley Law School Stadium as special guests at a Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball game, and enjoy a luncheon cruise aboard the Michigan Princess Riverboat on Lansing’s Grand River.

The top ten statewide winners included (in order of finish, from 10th to 1st place) Ada Allstott of Resurrection School in Lansing, Riley Neilson of Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Grand Rapids (sponsored by agent, Tony Beachler), Molly Boven of Berrien Springs Middle School in Berrien Springs (sponsored by agent, Marty Rudlaff), Grace Tucker of Hart Middle School in Hart (sponsored by agent, Kaleb Klotz), Connor Luttrell of St. Anthony of Padua School in Grand Rapids, Finley Bergman of Holland Adventist Academy in Holland, Haleymarie Parker of Reuther Middle School in Rochester Hills (sponsored by agent, Merrick Maris), Brooke Benson of St. Elizabeth Area Catholic School in Reese, Catherine Ballor of Holy Family Regional School in Rochester Hills, and Savannah Kurzhal of Dowagiac Middle School in Dowagiac (sponsored by agent, Jeff Neumann). 

You can read these students’ winning submissions at:

As sponsor of the contest, Farm Bureau Insurance has earned 11 national awards from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.

Farm Bureau Insurance encourages interested 8th Grade Teachers to be on the lookout for materials to register when the 56th annual contest kicks off in Fall of 2024. Visit the America & Me Essay Contest homepage or contact Lisa Fedewa at 517-679-5411 or at [email protected] for more information.


Cale Sauter headshot

Cale Sauter

Public Relations & Social Media Strategist
517-391-5001 [email protected]

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