The South Dakota Farmers Union honored a group of devoted youth for their commitment to community, involvement and leadership development at the 2018 S.D. Farmers Union State Convention held in Pierre Nov. 29-30.
The Torchbearer Award is the highest achievement in the S.D. Farmers Union Education Program. To receive the award, a camper must complete five years of service. It showcases the commitment campers have put toward the education department, and the time dedicated to serving rural communities.
True to the name of the award, continuing the traditions of the S.D. Farmers Union educational programming is often a priority for those eligible to receive the Torchbearer Award.
Hoven FFA Chapter won today's S.D. Farmers Union Team Up For Safety Quiz Bowl held during the South Dakota State Fair in Huron.
Team members include: Brady Keller, Chayce Rausch and Peter Rausch.
The team was recognized with a cash prize.
Other teams who qualified to compete today include the following FFA Chapters: Parker FFA Chapter, members include: Jackson Fiegen, Camden Bialas, Nick Haraldsen and Geoff Dunkelberger; Tri-Valley FFA Chapter, members include: Josh Hotchkiss, Jen Hotchkiss, Rhegan Oberg and Westen VanDerVliet and Wessington Springs FFA Chapter, members include: Isaac Kolousek, Cooper Hainy and Noah Hainy.
The Team Up For Safety competition is run in a game-show format and held each year as a fun reminder to teens to keep safety top of mind. The four teams qualified for the championship during the State FFA Convention held this spring, where more than 20 teams competed.
"For most of us in South Dakota, we like to think we're pretty in tune with what's going on around us," says Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President. "But life moves pretty fast and it's easy to take little things for granted. It could be something as simple as just taking the time to read labels on chemicals or applications and making sure you don't harm yourself or your livestock."
Hoven FFA member, Peter Rausch agrees.
"I know from firsthand experience how dangerous working on a farm can be. I lost a friend in a grain bin accident. He would have been a senior this year," says Rausch, who holds his OSHA certification thanks to a course he took as part of his high school's Agriculture Education class. "It is always good to be aware of your surroundings and be as safe as you can for yourself and others."
How can cooperation build a brighter tomorrow? This was a question considered by campers during the 2018 S.D. Farmers Union State Leadership Camp as they elected a six-member Junior Advisory Council (JAC).
Members selected from communities across South Dakota include: Charlee Byrd, White Lake; Landon Copley, Aberdeen; Abby Dethlefsen, Stickney; Justin Goetz, Selby; Cassidy Keller, Canistota and Caleb Nugteren, Canistota.
As the week progressed campers were asked to discuss subjects that hit close to home for much of the population, cybersecurity, mental health and coping skills.
During the week-long camp, held this summer at Storm Mountain Center just outside Rapid City, campers had the opportunity to hear from a variety of speakers teaching them valuable lessons on how they can be a positive impact in the lives of others.
"Brighter tomorrows ensure that we are teaching our young leaders how to be safe and resilient in a tough world," explains Rachel Haigh-Blume, SDFU Education Director. "Words of kindness aren't flowing freely in the world today and simply put, we tend to believe negative comments over positive comments. Taking time for campers to focus on how to handle difficult situations, how to ask for help and how to be resilient when there are bad days are valuable life skills and how we work toward brighter tomorrows."
Read on to learn more about the Junior Advisory Council.
Three South Dakota teens were elected to the National Farmers Union (NFU) National Youth Advisory Council during the 82nd annual NFU All-States Leadership Camp held in Bailey, Colorado.
"Serving on this council is a great opportunity for me to continue to grow as a person and a leader," said Canistota High School senior, Caleb Nugteren, 17.
Youth members of South Dakota Farmers Union, Nugteren, Jim Brockel, Shadehill and Justin Goetz, Selby, were elected to serve a one-year term on the National Youth Advisory Council by their peers from across the nation during the week-long leadership camp. During their year of service they will represent thousands of Farmers Union youth from across the nation at the 2019 NFU National Convention, in Washington D.C., and the team will be actively involved in the planning of the 2019 All-States Camp.
"NYAC builds leaders in the agriculture industry and ensures the voice of younger generations is heard and respected in what the organization does," says Roger Johnson, NFU President. "Over the course of the next year, these six youths will serve as representatives of their peers, learn about the legislative process and lobbying, and present in front of hundreds of NFU members and press at the NFU convention. I'm confident they will be strong advocates for both the organization and young people in agriculture."
Advocating for agriculture is a task Brockel is eager to participate in. A graduate of Bison High School, Brockel grew up working on his family's ranch.
"The strength of agriculture impacts me, my neighbors and my community. I'm eager to share my story with Congressional leaders in D.C. and hear what other Farmers Union members have to say during policy discussions at National Convention," says Brockel, who will be attending the University of South Dakota this fall.
As members of the National Youth Advisory Council, these South Dakota youth will also serve as role models to the many youth across the nation who participate in Farmers Union youth programming. Serving as a mentor is not a new role for Goetz, a Selby Area High School senior.
"I like to help others," explains Goetz, who currently serves on the SDFU Junior Advisory Council, the team which plans Farmers Union annual state leadership camp. "Encouraging and motivating others to do better is something I work to do."
All three youth have been actively involved in SDFU youth programming for a number of years and say the leadership skills they developed through the annual State Leadership Camp helped them achieve this new service role.
"Attending Farmers Union Leadership Camp really pushed me to step outside my comfort zone," explains Nugteren. "I am not typically a person who enjoys speaking in front of people, but because of the experience I have gained over the years, I now enjoy meeting new people and feel comfortable public speaking."
The South Dakota teens will serve with youth from North Dakota, Riley Lebahn; Minnesota, Jade Person; and Wisconsin, Camryn Billen.
Farm safety is not a topic to take lightly, explains high school junior, Peter Rausch.
"I know from firsthand experience how dangerous working on a farm can be. I lost a friend to a farm accident," says Rausch, who holds his OSHA certification thanks to a course he took as part of his high school's Agriculture Education class. "It is always good to be aware of your surroundings and be as safe as you can for yourself and others."
Rausch, a member of the Hoven FFA Chapter, was among more than 80 FFA members who participated in the S.D. Farmers Union Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl during the 2018 S.D. State FFA Convention held in Brookings, April 14-16.
Hoven FFA Chapter quiz bowl team is one of four that qualified to compete in the championship quiz bowl which will be held at the 2018 South Dakota State Fair during Farmers Union Day.
The other teams who qualified include the following FFA chapters: Parker FFA, Tri-Valley FFA and Wessington Springs.
For Angela Hawkinson, the investment her community of Britton, South Dakota, made in her, has had a large impact on her life. She credits Britton with helping shape her into the person that she is today.
"I was raised in my community and now I live in it and have built my life here," explains Hawkinson, who works in human resources and bookkeeping for Full Circle Ag. "This community has given me so much and I'm proud of this place. Now I feel like it's my turn to give back to it and invest in its future like it did in mine."
Get to Know the 2017-2018 Senior Advisory Council Members
Maddie Kline and Taylin Montague were selected to serve on the 2017-2018 Senior Advisory Council during the 2017 S.D. Farmers Union State Convention, held in Huron this last December.
In this role, Kline, a freshman at South Dakota State University, and Montague, a senior at New Underwood High School planning to attend Black Hills State University in the spring, will provide advice and act as mentors to the six member Junior Advisory Council.
Below, the youth leaders visit about what they look forward to in this new leadership role and discuss how the personal leadership development and communication skills they developed through Farmers Union educational programming has helped prepare them to be mentors.
What are you most looking forward to in this new leadership role?
Maddie Kline Answers: I’m looking forward to making my last year in camp the best year yet. With my leadership skills and past experience as a member of the Junior Advisory Council (JACs) I will be able to mentor the current JACs through the obstacles of their new roles. I can teach them how to be better leaders and mentors among other campers and how to go about things.
Taylin Montague Answers: I look forward to the opportunity to give back to Farmers Union. Being an influence and role model to upcoming campers is an honor and is something I have always aspired to. To me serving on the Senior Advisory Council means that I am a productive member of Farmers Union, I am an advocate and others see me as a strong leader and role model.
How did Farmers Union prepare you for this mentorship role?
Maddie Kline Answers: In Farmers Union we talk a lot about leadership and cooperation and what that means for youth. We get to learn how to make the most out of our leadership ability while having fun along the way. The skills that Farmers Union has instilled in me helped me throughout high school and now I can take those skills with me to college.
Taylin Montague Answers: Farmers Union has taught me a countless amount of skills and lessons. After being awarded the Bob Janish Memorial Friendship Award I was brought to the realization of how many people see what I do and how I am as a person. Because of Farmers Union I have learned that being a positive influence and someone others can look up to is incredibly rewarding. I have learned that stepping up and taking a leadership role is not scary but an honor.
To learn more about this Farmers Union Education Programs, contact Rachel Haigh-Blume, S.D. Farmers Union Education Director at Rachel@sdfu.org or visit www.sdfu.org.
A group of devoted Farmer's Union campers were recognized for their commitment to community involvement and leadership development with the Torchbearer Award during an awards luncheon hosted at the 2017 S.D. Farmers Union State Convention held in Huron, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2017.
For campers, receiving the Torchbearer Award symbolizes the highest level of achievement for the South Dakota Farmers Union Education Program. This award is given once the camper has reached five years of committed service, showcasing the time and dedication campers have committed over the past years to the education department, as well as the rural communities they have served.
Continuing the tradition of S.D. Farmers Union Camp is often times a priority for youth who are eligible for the Torchbearer Award.
Junior Rural Economics and Leadership (Jr. REAL) is an innovative leadership development program that invests in high school juniors and seniors and presents a comprehensive one-day seminar to students from various high schools in different locations across South Dakota. Student participants engage in hands-on exercises focused on leadership development, credit issues and identity theft, life skills, and motivation.
Jr. REAL aims to mold youth into leaders, starting with civic responsibility and engagement in their own rural communities..