Members, county Farm Bureaus honored at 2017 convention

Nearly 1,300 people traveled from around the state to French Lick Dec. 7-9 for Indiana Farm Bureau’s 2017 convention.

INFB Convention 2018_Isabella Chism at ElectionThis was the largest attendance recorded for the convention in recent years, according to the organization’s records.

 Among the most significant events was the re-election of 2nd Vice President Isabella Chism, which was the main business at the Dec. 9 delegate session.

The convention offered a prime opportunity to honor individuals and county Farm Bureaus and to promote some of Farm Bureau’s programs to the membership. A roundup of some of the honors and awards follows.

Young Farmer awards

Deidra Gottbrath of Washington County won the Young Farmer Discussion Meet and will now advance to the national Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion Meet, to be held during the American Farm Bureau annual meeting, Jan. 6-9 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Deidra Gottbrath_YFDiscussion MeetA stroke clinical operations nurse at a large hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, Gottbrath also farms with her parents. She is the president of the Washington County Farm Bureau.

 As winner of the INFB Discussion Meet, Gottbrath received a $4,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance and expenses paid to the national convention in Nashville.

The three runners-up were Rachel Gentry, Spencer County; Amanda Mosiman, Warrick County; and Logan Springstun, Warrick County. The runners-up each received a $1,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance.

Also recognized during the convention were the winners of the INFB Young Farmer Achievement and Excellence in Agriculture awards, who were announced on INFB’s Facebook page on Aug. 8. They are Jeff Demerly of White County, who won the Excellence in Agriculture Award, which recognizes young farmers who do not derive the majority of their income from a production agricultural operation they own; and Matthew and Brianna Chapman of Henry County, winners of the Achievement Award, which recognizes young farmers who earn the majority of their income from their farms. Demerly and the Chapmans will also advance to the national Young Farmer & Rancher contests.

Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award Young Farmer Achievement Award

Impact Awards

These recognize county Farm Bureaus for efforts that result in a significant impact or an increase in political influence and clout. This year’s winners were honored for achievements in the categories of image awareness and membership experience.

Image awareness

  • Benton County, Farm to Fork dinner.
  • Wayne County, Summer Harvest Supper.
  • Whitley County, “Support County Agriculture” campaign.

Membership experience

  • Jennings County, rebuilding the shelter house at the North Vernon City Park, home of the Jennings County Farmer’s Market.
  • Boone County, Growing Hope partnership with Love INC (Love in the Name of Christ).

(The 2017 Impact Award winners will be featured in more detail in the January issue of The Hoosier Farmer.)

County Recognition Program

Developed six years ago to recognize contributions to the organization, the County Recognition Program awards bronze or silver status in each category based on predetermined requirements for the program year. If a county received silver status in all three categories, they were awarded gold status. Fifty-two counties achieved gold status this year.

Membership awards

Premier Performer award (presented to the volunteer who signed the highest number of voting members for the organization): Harold Kleine of Allen County, who signed 72 new members, 63 of whom were voting members. This is the third year in a row Kleine has received the Premier Performer award.

Top 10 Performers_2017Top 10 Performer award (presented to INFB volunteers who sign the most new voting members during the program year): Mark York, Wabash County, 18 memberships; Mary Lee Russell, Lawrence County, 15 memberships; Robert Harmon, Harrison County, 13 memberships; Susan Brocksmith, Knox County, 12 memberships; Bob Wichlinski, Porter County, 8 memberships; Dane Drew, Whitley County, 7 memberships; Gary Michel, Warrick County, 7 memberships; Bob Geswein, Floyd County, 6 memberships; Brian Morgan, Vermillion County, 6 memberships; Elsa Smith, Tipton County, 6 memberships; Neil Mennen, Clinton County, 6 memberships; and Roger Hadley, Allen County, 6 memberships.

Superior Defender award (presented to the county with the highest overall retention): Perry County, which retained 98.21 percent of voting members from 2016.

District Defender award (presented to the counties with the highest overall retention percentage of voting members): Starke County, District 1; Steuben County, District 2; Carroll County, District 3; Wabash County, District 4; Vermillion County, District 5; Hamilton County, District 6; Lawrence County, District 7; Decatur County, District 8; Perry County, District 9; and Harrison County, District 10. This year’s winners each retained more than 95 percent of the voting members in their county from 2016.


  • Young Farmer silent auction, benefitting the Indiana Ag Law Foundation, netted $6,456.44.
  • AgELECT (INFB’s new state political action committee) raised more than $4,385 for the PAC at its booth in the trade show and more than $10,000 at the AgELECT luncheon.

Book of the Year

The 2018 Indiana Farm Bureau Book of the Year was announced at the Dec. 7 general session: John Deere, That's Who! by Tracy Nelson Maurer and illustrated by Tim Zeltner. The annual Book of the Year selection is a part of INFB’s Agriculture in the Classroom program.

Other Awards

Also honored were Purdue poultry vet Patricia Wakenell, who received the Hovde Award for exemplary service to rural Indiana; the Ramsey family of Shelbyville, who won the Farm Family of the Year award from Indiana AgriNews and Beck’s Hybrids; and Jim Wildermuth, Miami County, Indiana Rural Teacher of the Year.

Rural Teacher of the Year
Indiana Farm Family of the Year
Dr. Patricia Wakenell_HovdeAward
Hovde Award