DES MOINES, IA (06/28/2012)(readMedia)-- Six Iowa farm families will be honored as recipients of The Way We Live Award at the 2012 Iowa State Fair. Each family will be recognized for their love of the land and the product they produce in an individual award ceremony during the Fair. "Nothing Compares" to the Iowa State Fair, set for August 9-19.
The Way We Live Award recognizes industrious Iowa families who demonstrate a daily dedication to animal agriculture and exemplify farm values derived from hard work and a love for the occupation of farming. Entrants were asked to submit a short essay describing how living on a farm and choosing the occupation of farming has shaped their family's life. Six recipients of the award were chosen from a pool of 75 entries representing a variety of commodities and locations throughout Iowa.
Each family will receive a prize package including $250 cash, Fair admission tickets, parking, Fair food tickets, and recognition in the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center during the Fair. The Way We Live Award is sponsored by NewsRadio 1040 WHO and Tractor Supply Company.
Keith and Dar Benning live on the same farm now that they bought when they got married. Instead of attending college, Keith followed in his father's footsteps and pursued the farm life. Keith and Dar's three children did the same, and each of them were involved in 4-H and FFA in high school and showed at the Fair. Their two sons, Brad and Darin, have married and started families of their own, with both of their young sons already eager to join the farming operation.
Brad moved into his grandparent's house near Keith and Dar. Darin bought land close by and built a house. Between the three farms, they own 1400 acres, with four hog confinement barns, cattle and chickens. Keith, Brad and Darin work in the fields, keep up with maintenance and tend to the livestock. Dar and her two daughters-in-law help out with yard work, cooking and raising their young families. To the Bennings, farming is life and there is no other career they would rather be doing.
Keith and Marie Henry not only share their love of farming with their own family, but they also open their home to share that love and understanding with others in their community. After over 25 years of marriage, they have established a farrowing operation and a several hundred acre farm. Keith has worked hard to establish a working relationship between his children and his father, Edwin Henry, and his uncle, Dale Henry. The multigenerational knowledge that flows between these three generations benefits all. The farrowing is done in conjunction with a family farm operation that includes cattle, hogs and crops. Keith and his children provide all the labor hours that are necessary to maintain the farm. As one of the few farrowing operations in Warren County, Keith has done all he can to promote this practice with other county youth.
Keith and Marie also spend their time teaching children who don't live on farms about agriculture. They volunteer to lead 4-H clubs and help with the Warren County Fair, and their four children (Lexie, Allison, Megan and Jordan) are all award winning members of 4-H and FFA and are working toward degrees in farming careers. The children are an intricate part of this operation and have serious responsibilities on the farm. Keith and Marie took their love for the farming community to a new level when their church, Farmers Chapel, burned down. They led the effort to rebuild the church and dedicated their time to those around them. The Henrys believe it is important to help involve the community in understanding what it means to farm and how important it is to our country.
Several years ago Bart Olthoff worked as a lab technician at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames and Katie, his wife, worked as a teacher. They had a desire to raise their children in the country but had no set plan. The opportunity to buy a turkey farm came up in 2009 and the couple couldn't pass it up. Bart's dad and grandfather had raised turkeys but timing did not allow Bart to continue in the turkey business. Since 2009, they have been living in the country raising their two children, Adam (3) and Isaac (1).
Although they are new to the farm world, Bart and Katie are fully embracing their new country life. Bart built tunnel ventilated turkey barns, using the latest energy efficiency and technology to keep his turkeys comfortable and well cared for. Bart and Katie hosted an open house with the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers to celebrate the third generation of the family turkey farm. Katie has a blog (www.onthebanksofsquawcreek.com), Facebook page and Twitter account to connect with people and educate them about her farm life, family and home. "There are lots of risks involved, but we feel that the financial benefits are nothing compared to raising our kids on a farm in this lifestyle," says Katie. Katie is also participating in a volunteer program called Common Ground, a social media effort sponsored by the United Soybean Board and the National Corn Growers Association, where she connects with other moms through social media and to answer questions about how farmers grow our food.
For more than 30 years, Delbert and Darlene Ronnebaum farmed land that's been in their family since 1941. It's where they raised their five children, taught them about agriculture and dairy farming and built such close bonds with neighbors that they're considered family. Today all of their children live within five miles of the two family farms and are passing down the farming knowledge to their own kids.
Delbert has been a long-time member of the American Legion Post 136 in Dyersville and was awarded the Delaware County Distinguished Dairy Farmer Award in 2009. In addition to helping Delbert with both farms, Darlene also has worked at the Good Neighbor Home in Manchester for 23 years as a nurse.
The Ronnebaums were nominated by their neighbor, Jill Lantermans. "Having grown up on a dairy farm next to one of Delbert's farms, I've known his family my entire life," she says. "He's the first one to come pulling into your field if the rain is coming and you are frantically trying to finish your fieldwork. If there's something you need and he has it – it's yours. No questions asked. If someone has a fire, storm damage, is suffering with an illness or death in the family, he's there right away offering his help."
Mick and LaVon Sager both grew up on family farms in southwest Iowa, learning to care for beef, sheep and hogs, and maintaining the land for future generations. When it came time to raise a family of their own, they chose to raise their four children (Whitney, Heather, Jordan and Tucker) on the farm where Mick grew up. As a family, they care for their farm of 55 sheep, 38 feeder calves, 210 chickens, 20 turkeys and 2 llamas.
Sisters Whitney, Heather and Jordan have each begun raising their own sheep flock. They trade labor for feed from their dad to help lower their operation costs, and they have all earned the American FFA Degree for their sheep-raising efforts, the highest degree awarded by the FFA. Tucker began his own egg selling business. He sells more than 40 dozen eggs each week to local customers who are looking for farm fresh, free-range chicken eggs. Only when all the animals are fed and settled in for the night, does this farming family's day end.
Mick and LaVon, both former 4-H and FFA members, volunteer their time and leadership to the clubs their children are involved in. LaVon has served as a 4-H leader for the past 15 years and served as a fairgrounds committee member for 4 years. Together Mick and LaVon served as the county fair poultry superintendents for two consecutive years. The Sagers understand the important role today's youth play in the future of agriculture. The children are able to take the lessons they learned on the farm and apply those lessons in their everyday lives at school and work.
Kent and Natasha Timmerman both grew up on farms, working alongside their dads when they were young. Natasha vowed she'd never marry a farmer but Kent changed her plans. Natasha met Kent in college and the two quickly immersed themselves in a farming life of their own. When Kent's dad died in a tragic ATV accident, Kent took over the whole farming operation and has managed it for the last 14 years. The couple bought Kent's grandfather's home and started a new generation of Timmerman cattlemen with their three children (Cole, Trey and Ally).
Kent's true passion is his cattle, and he takes every opportunity to share this love with his two boys. The boys have shown their bottle calves at the county fair for the past few years, and they help dad and ride along in the tractor. Kent is up at all hours checking calves, working the fields, baling hay or helping others in the community with their farms. Natasha is an elementary school teacher, and she makes sure her farm boys are well fed when she gets home. Kent Timmerman is dedicated to their herd of cattle and managing their crops.
"Nothing Compares" to the 2012 Iowa State Fair, August 9-19. For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or visit www.iowastatefair.org.