Young Farmers and Ranchers Take Top Honors

The annual American Farm Bureau Federation’s meeting provided the backdrop for the winners of the Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions.

Donald and Alicia Blankenship of Tennessee won the Achievement Award at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 90th annual meeting.

Taking top honors for the American Farm Bureau's Achievement Award were Donald and Alicia Blankenship of Tennessee. Presented them with keys to a Dodge Ram pickup is Dodge representative Albino Estrella.

courtesy American Farm Bureau Federation

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San Antonio – Winners of the Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions were announced today at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 90th annual meeting. Young farmers from around the United States competed for the awards by demonstrating knowledge of and achievement in agriculture, as well as commitment to promoting the agriculture industry.

Donald and Alicia Blankenship of Tennessee won the Achievement Award. They are the winners of a 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck, courtesy of Dodge, and a $1,000 product voucher from Valvoline. They also received free registration to the 2009 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference, earlier this month in Sacramento, California.

Runners-up in the Achievement Award contest included Larry and Jenny Rebecca Black of Florida, Brian and Catherine Ziehm of New York, Bryan Boll of Minnesota, and Chris and Jamie Demerly of Michigan. They each received a compact tractor, courtesy of Case IH, and a $500 product voucher from Valvoline.

The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation’s growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau leadership and leadership outside Farm Bureau.

James G. Williams of Idaho won the Discussion Meet. He will take home a 2009 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck, courtesy of Dodge, plus free registration to the 2009 YF&R Leadership Conference.

The three runners-up in the Discussion Meet were Marc Arnusch of Colorado, Dalton Henry of Kansas and Nicole Reese of Wisconsin. They each received a $6,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a Farm Boss chainsaw, both courtesy of STIHL.

The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.

A Gold level sponsor of the annual meeting, STIHL provided prizes for all runners-up in the Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture categories and also donated several pieces of equipment to the AFB Foundation Silent Auction to help raise funds to build agricultural awareness and understanding through education.

Dan and Cara June Strasser of Tennessee won the Excellence in Agriculture Award. They received a 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck and free registration to the YF&R Leadership Conference.

The three runners-up in the Excellence in Agriculture competition were Curt and Carrie Divine of Kentucky, Jeff and Alyssa Vander Werff of Michigan, and Matthew and Teresa Widboom of Minnesota. Each received a $6,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a Farm Boss chain saw, courtesy of STIHL.

The Excellence in Agriculture award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability, and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

“We at STIHL feel that the sponsorship is a natural fit with our commitment to embracing new ideas and new technology while staying true to the traditions that have made us successful,” says Roger Phelps, promotional communications manager with STIHL Inc. and one of five judges for the Final 4 in the Discussion Meet competition. “We believe the recipients of the AFBF’s awards for the Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet, and the Excellence in Agriculture competitions exemplify those values.”

“These awards recognize the future leaders of the agriculture community,” says Townsend Kyser, chairman of the Young Farmer and Rancher Committee. “STIHL’s sponsorship means that this next generation of agriculture professionals has the support of a respected industry innovator behind them.”

Farm Bureau is an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization governed by and representing farm and ranch families united for the purpose of analyzing their problems and formulating action to achieve educational improvement, economic opportunity and social advancement and, thereby, to promote the national well-being. Farm Bureau is local, county, state, national and international in its scope and influence and is non-partisan, non-sectarian and non-secret in character. Farm Bureau is the voice of agricultural producers at all levels. Visit the website for more information.

STIHL Inc. manufactures the world’s largest selling brand of chain saws and produces a full line of powerful, lightweight and versatile handheld outdoor power equipment for homeowners and professional users. STIHL products are sold through servicing power equipment retailers from coast to coast –  not mass merchants. STIHL products sold through U.S. STIHL dealers are for distribution in the United States only. For more information or for the name of the closest STIHL retailer, call toll free 1-800-GO STIHL (1-800-467-8445) or visit the STIHL website.

STIHL is also pleased to support the National FFA, Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund (TREE Fund) and the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD).