Farm Bureau members from across the state assembled in Indianapolis March 9 and 10 for the annual Spring Conference to honor outstanding volunteers and to take advantage of the professional development and networking opportunities the event offers.
The conference is sponsored by the INFB Women’s Leadership Committee. More than 220 attended the 2018 event.
At this year’s conference, approximately $7,072 was collected for the Farm Bureau Foundation benefiting the Carolyn Hegel Memorial Scholarship Fund. The money was raised through silent and live auctions of items donated by county and district Farm Bureaus.
In addition, several members were honored at the conference for their accomplishments and volunteer efforts in 2017.
One INFB program that requires many volunteers across the state is Agriculture in the Classroom, a program that teaches students in grades pre-K-12 where their food comes from and the importance of Indiana’s farmers. Ag in the Classroom volunteers were among those honored at Spring Conference.
Marlene Fudge of Rush County was named Ag in the Classroom Volunteer of the Year. Fudge was chosen for this award because she went above and beyond to educate Indiana’s youth about agriculture in 2017. She is an active member of Rush County Farm Bureau where she serves as the county’s education & outreach coordinator.
INFB also awarded the Reaching Out Award to five AITC volunteers. The award is given to volunteers who “go the extra mile” when volunteering in their local schools. This year’s Reaching Out Award winners were Debbie Allen, Switzerland County; Lynda Bauerle, Jennings County; Caren Crum, Carroll County; Miriam Ruppel, Wabash County; and Deborah Trotter, Clark County. (Pictured below, left to right, are Crum, Trotter and Bauerle.)
“Marlene and our Reaching Out Award recipients have such a passion for teaching kids about farming and agriculture,” said Isabella Chism, INFB 2nd vice president and chair of the Women’s Leadership Committee. “They do a great job of bringing their personal experiences on the farm to the classroom so that the kids get to learn about their food right from the source.”
INFB volunteers who have participated in the Ag in the Classroom program for 25 years also were honored at the conference. Those members are Erna Lloyd, Spencer County; Marvis Loveall, Parke County; Maryann Maschino, Jennings County; Linda Phillips, Ohio County; Treva Smith, Parke County; and Helen Witte, Wells County.
“Each year we honor some of our most outstanding Ag in the Classroom volunteers at Spring Conference because they do so much to increase agriculture literacy in our state,” said Chism. “As a grassroots organization, we rely on volunteers like these to help us tell the story of Indiana agriculture.”
Also recognized during the conference were White and Clinton County Farm Bureaus, each of whom won an ag education and promotion development grant from INFB. White County won for its Neighborhood Food Oasis Program and Clinton County for its Community Garden Project for Food Insecurity.
Another program sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Committee is the ACE (Agricultural Cultural Exchange) program, which each year sends Hoosier ag ambassadors to different states so they can find out about agriculture in different parts of the country.
The 2018 ACE ambassadors were announced at Spring Conference, and they are Lina Reeves-Kerner of Tippecanoe County and Jentzi and Michael Lash of Orange County (pictured to the right). Reeves-Kerner and the Lashes will represent Indiana Farm Bureau on a trip to Montana sometime this summer.