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Indiana Farm Bureau 



December 5, 2011 


For more information: Chris Fenner, 317-692-7844, cfenner@infarmbureau.org  
Mindy Reef, 317-692-7822, mreef@infarmbureau.org  
 Kathleen Dutro, 317-692-7824, kdutro@infarmbureau.org  
Convention media room: 765-720-0719   

Note to editors, news directors: The winners of the Young Farmer Achievement and Excellence in Agriculture Awards will be announced at the IFB convention during the banquet on Dec. 9. Photos of winners and finalists are available upon request by calling or emailing Mindy Reef or Kathleen Dutro – contact information is listed above. 

 Young Farmer finalists make a contribution to agriculture, Farm Bureau 

Finalists have been selected for the two statewide awards given to young farmers by Indiana Farm Bureau. 

The overall winners of the Young Farmer Achievement Award and Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award will be announced on Dec. 9 at IFB’s annual convention, which will be held in Indianapolis. Indiana’s winners will then represent Indiana in the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher contests, the winners of which will be announced during the AFBF convention in Honolulu Jan. 8-11.  

The finalists in the Young Farmer Achievement Award are Mark and Kathy Justice, Carroll County; Jennifer and Don Shoemaker, Jackson County; and Travis and Sarah Zook, LaGrange County. This award recognizes young farmers whose farm management techniques and commitment to their communities set a positive example for everyone involved in production agriculture. Applicants must earn a majority of their income from production agriculture.  

Finalists in the Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award – which recognizes young farmers who are involved in agriculture in ways other than as farm owners – are John and Marybeth Feutz, Gibson County; Julie and Clinton Taylor, Boone County; and Julie Ann Thelen, Clinton County. 

Achievement Award Finalists 

Mark & Kathy Justice – Mark and Kathy Justice started a farm from scratch, and today they cash rent 850 acres planted to waxy corn, dent corn and soybeans near Delphi. Though both have other part-time jobs, their main income now comes from the farm. 

In addition to the cash-rented land, the couple does custom farming and trucking to increase the cash flow. Their overall goal is to keep growing the operation so that their daughters, Morgan, 7, and Emily, 4, can come back to the farm if they choose to.  

Jennifer & Don Shoemaker – Don and Jennifer Shoemaker farm with Don’s parents, producing corn, soybeans, seed soybeans and wheat and finishing several hundred head of cattle annually. Don and Jennifer rent all the cropland for the grain operation while Don’s parents run the family feedlot, and each helps the other as needed. 

The Shoemakers feed cattle on their sandy, rolling fields during the winter and then plant corn on those same fields in the spring. Jennifer, who married Don last year, is gradually becoming more involved with the operation. Her other job is teaching high school math. 

Travis & Sarah Zook – Travis and Sarah Zook of LaGrange County built most of the farm they now operate piece by piece. It began when Travis was still in high school and he cash rented a 10-acre field, borrowing his dad’s equipment in order to farm it. They now raise more than 1,700 acres of grain, have a 38-cow beef herd and feed out dairy steers. 

They are also a seed dealer for Beck’s Hybrids and a dealer for Precision Planting, and they have marketed calves to area 4-H kids. 

Excellence In Agriculture Award Finalists 

John & Marybeth Feutz – John and Marybeth Feutz live on a small farm near Princeton, where they have a cow-calf operation with John’s parents and also grow hay. 

But their main job is veterinary medicine. Both are doctors of veterinary medicine who practice at the Princeton Veterinary Hospital, and Marybeth also has a PhD in equine respiratory disease among other degrees and distinctions. 

Both are active in Farm Bureau. Marybeth is the District 9 woman leader. John is Gibson County Farm Bureau president. They are also active professionally and in their community. 

Clinton & Julie Taylor – Clinton and Julie Taylor both work on their 4th-generation family farm, but both also have full-time off-farm careers. Clinton manages the family construction business, and Julie is a full-time family and consumer science teacher at Western Boone Jr./Sr. High School. 

The farm consists of nearly 4,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, and Clinton’s primary role, in addition to helping with planting and harvest, is incorporating and implementing the use of technology on the farm. Julie also assists as needed, and is, in her words, “slowly but surely learning to operate equipment.” 

Julie Ann Thelen – Julie Ann Thelen teaches agricultural education to high school and middle school students at Clinton Central Jr./Sr. High School in Frankfort, Ind., where she also acts as FFA advisor. She is a member of the Clinton County Farm Bureau board, sits on the county’s 4-H Council and has held a number of leadership positions with the state and national ag educator associations. 

 In the classroom she helps students understand the production and processing methods that put food on their plates, making sure that both future farmers and consumers understand the importance of conventional agriculture in feeding a growing population. 

The state YFAA winner receives a $6,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance; 250 hours maximum free use of one M-Series tractor (and loader, if appropriate) courtesy of Kubota Tractor Corp.; and the David L. Leising Memorial Award, which includes a $200 savings bond. The state YFEA winner receives a John Deere Gator (cash value: $8,000) courtesy of Farm Credit Services; and a $3,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance 

In both contests, winners also receive expenses paid to the 2012 national convention in Honolulu, and the runners-up receive $1,000 cash prizes from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance.