DES MOINES, IA (07/08/2015)(readMedia)-- Six Iowa farm families will be honored as recipients of 2015 Way We Live Award at the Iowa State Fair. Each family will be recognized for their love of the land and the product they produce.The Way We Live Award recognizes Iowa families for their hard work and dedication to farming. The families each exemplify dedication to animal agriculture and strong farm values.

Each entrant was asked to submit a short essay describing how the occupation of farming and living on a farm has shaped their lives. Six families were chosen out of nearly 40 entries from a variety of commodities and areas in Iowa.

Each award winning family will receive a prize package including $250 cash, Fair tickets, free parking, various coupon books, and recognition in the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center during the Fair at 10:30 a.m. on various days. The Way We Live Award is sponsored by WHO NewsRadio 1040 and Tractor Supply Company.

O'Connell Family, Earlville

Friday, August 14

The O'Connell Family began farming in 1994 when Marilyn O'Connell and her husband Pat rented their current farm from her parents. Over the next 10 years, they made renovations to every building on the farm before buying it in 2004. Today, along with their children Cory, Carrie, Emily and Andy, they work together to operate the 195 acres with 65 milking cows and 10 dry cows with a rolling herd average of 28,000 pounds. The O'Connells also raise their own replacement heifers and stock cow herd that consists of 32 cows. One hundred acres of corn, 55 acres of alfalfa, and 35 acres of pasture are planted on the land. Pat and Marilyn's eldest son Cory rents his grandma's farm in New Vienna, IA and buys bull calves from his parents to raise. Their eldest daughter Carries works for Wyffels Seed Corn Company. Both return home often to help around the farm. Emily will be attending Kirkwood Community College in the fall, and Andy will be a sophomore at Maquoketa High School. All four of their children were very active in 4H and FFA..

Mosher Angus Farm, Liscomb

Saturday, August 15

Spanning six generations, the Mosher Angus Farm traces its roots back to the late 1800s when it consisted of beef cattle, dairy cattle, hogs, sheep and chickens. Today, three generations are involved with the daily farming activities, and the farm now consists of Angus cows, a small feedlot, sheep, corn, and alfalfa. Norval and Esther Mosher are the eldest generation on the farm and they feed the cattle, plant, and cook for everyone. Dynette works for Iowa State University and judges at county and State Fair, along with maintaining the farm's appearance. Norval and Esther's son Jim is married to Brenda and they manage the cows and ewes. Their daughters Lauren and Leah are in 4-H and FFA and they assist in all aspects of the livestock operation.

Lalk Family, Waverly

Sunday, August 16

In 2010, Tim and Rebecca Lalk began custom raising calves on their 288 head nursery for local farmers near Sumner. In 2012, they built a building where they could house up to 400 head of calves, once they came out of the nursery. They continue to custom raise calves for a local dairy farmer, as well as raise their own calves with their four children at their family farm in Waverly. Tim is a fourth generation farmer and manages both farms and the cattle operation. Rebecca works as a full-time county social worker. Both are actively involved in their church. Their eldest daughter Skyler participates in high school marching band and volleyball, and volunteers with the church's Sunday school program. Nathan is the oldest son and plays football and participates in orchestra. Leah is an avid dancer, and their youngest son Asher is 2-years-old. Skyler, Nathan and Leah all help bottle feed the calves.

Juergensen Family, Churdan

Wednesday, August 19

Jill and Chris Juergensen contract fed hogs for many years on their property before erecting two smaller buildings in 1997. They built two more hog confinement buildings in 2006 and contracted with a different source to supply their pigs. As their five children - Cale, Mackenzie, Connor, Noah and Chase - all grew they worked together in livestock production. Chris passed away in August 2012, and Jill took over the family operation while the children took on larger roles on the farm. Cale and Connor built a new hog building on the farm and began raising their own hogs in December 2012, while attending college. There is constant activity and chores, and neighbors and friends often give up some free time to ensure the process runs smoothly. Connor and Cale raised chickens for years and even showcased them at the county fair. In May 2013, Cale, Connor, and Mackenzie all received associate degrees from Iowa Lakes Community College and Iowa Central Community College, respectively.

McArtor Family, Crawfordsville

Thursday, August 20

Shortly after marrying in 1988, Jim and Sara McArtor purchased a 40 acre farm where they raised their three children and still reside today. The farm began with raising 40 head of Dorset sheep and a few acres of corn and soybeans. As the years went by, the sheep flock began to grow and eventually hit 120 head. With Jim and Sara both working off the farm as well, chore time instilled a sense of responsibility and teamwork within the family. The family was also heavily involved in 4-H with all of the children showing sheep, and eventually branching into other livestock projects, such as poultry, rabbits and goats. Their oldest son Brett attended Iowa State University majoring in Ag Systems Technology, and currently works for the Iowa Soybean Association. Brian studied renewable electricity at Indian Hills Community College and went back to the farm after receiving his degree. Brenda is currently attending Iowa State University where she studies Graphic Design. All three attribute their success in life to the responsibility and teamwork skills they learned while growing up on the farm. Jim and Sara are still active in 4-H, assisting and mentoring local youth with goat projects.

Niehaus Spot Farm, Waverly

Saturday, August 22

The Niehaus Spot Farm and Family have been raising hogs since 1931. Darwin and Sharon Niehaus built their house on the farm in 1964 and moved in 1965 after Darwin's father had lived there since 1948. At that time,, they raised corn, beans, hay, oats, and had 16 milking cows. With the help of his neighbor, Darwin started his county Pork Producers in 1967 and served as president. Today, he farms 40 acres of corn and has 40 sows. Their large family consists of daughter Renee Lane, who raised three boys on the farm and now lives in another town. She is involved in showing pigs at the Fair and made sure to get her kids involved with 4-H. Son Jeff Niehaus was a 4-H member and now teaches at Sac City. Son Brian Niehaus is no longer involved in farming, but still enjoys helping at the Fair, and daughter Holly is a 4-H leader and lives on a nearby farm where they raise pigs, cattle, goats, chickens, ducks and donkeys. The family has nine grandchildren and great grandchildren who are involved with the hog business and showcases them at numerous fairs.

# # #

Frequently ranked as one of the top events in the country, the Iowa State Fair is the single largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country. Annually attracting more than a million people from all over the world, the Iowa State Fair located at East 30th and East University, just 10 minutes from downtown Des Moines is Iowa's greatest celebration with a salute to the best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement. "Nothing Compares" to the 2015 Iowa State Fair, August 13-23, 2015. For more information, visit

Support the River Cities' Reader

Help Keep the Reader Alive and Free Since '93!


"We're the River Cities' Reader, and we've kept the Quad Cities' only independently owned newspaper alive and free since 1993. Now we find our ability to continue providing all the features you love in serious jeopardy without the financial support of our readers.

So please help the Reader keep going with your one-time, monthly, or annual support. With your financial support the Reader can continue providing uncensored, non-scripted, and independent journalism alongside the Quad Cities' area's most comprehensive cultural coverage." - Todd McGreevy, Publisher