Young Farmer award finalists named

Finalists have been selected for the Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture and Achievement awards.

The winners of both contests will be announced on Aug. 31 on Indiana Farm Bureau’s Facebook page. Winners and finalists will be recognized at the INFB state convention in December, and the winners will go on to compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer & Rancher Award competition in January.

The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes outstanding Farm Bureau members who do not derive the majority of their income from an owned, production-agriculture operation but who actively contribute and grow their involvement in Farm Bureau and agriculture. Winners must be voting members between the ages of 18 and 35.

Winners of this award receive a John Deere Gator (courtesy of Farm Credit Services), a $3,000 cash prize (courtesy of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance) and an all-expenses-paid trip to New Orleans in January to compete at the AFBF annual convention. Runners-up receive a $1,000 cash prize (courtesy of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance).

The three finalists are:

Alan Duttlinger, Tippecanoe County

Alan grew up on a grain and swine farm and has a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s in swine nutrition. He worked as a research and development specialist and then as a nutrition manager for a large pork processor, but he is now pursuing a doctorate in swine nutrition at Purdue University.

Eric and Megan Scheller, Vanderburgh County

Eric works part time on the family farm and, after earning a degree in diesel equipment technology, as a diesel technology instructor. Megan is a nurse at a local hospital. While she didn’t grow up on a farm, she’s jumped in and now spends her time outside of work providing meals, assisting with machine maintenance and doing grounds-keeping for the farm.

Jonathan Spaetti and Derika Lynam-Spaetti, Spencer County

Jonathan, a fourth-generation farmer, holds an associate degree in manufacturing industrial technology and works alongside his dad and uncle on the farm while also operating his own farm. Derika, who holds a master’s degree in teacher leadership, is a high school math teacher. Derika also serves on the Indiana Soybean Alliance board of directors.

The Achievement Award recognizes outstanding Farm Bureau members whose farm management techniques and commitment to their communities set a positive example for others involved in agriculture. Winners must be voting members between the ages of 18 and 35 and earn the majority of their income from production agriculture.

The winners of this award receive a $6,000 cash prize (courtesy of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance), 250 hours’ free use of one M-Series tractor (courtesy of Kubota Tractor Corporation) and an all-expenses-paid trip to compete at the AFBF annual convention in New Orleans in January. The winners also will receive the David L. Leising Memorial Award. Runners-up receive a $1,000 cash prize (courtesy of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance).

The three finalists are:
Scott and Jenna Burton, Kosciusko County

Scott has an associate degree and farms full time, working on both his family’s farm and Jenna’s family’s farm. The Burtons recently diversified by adding chicken litter spreading to the business model. Jenna holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and is employed full time in that role at a local high school. She also works part time for the farm.

Brent and Ashley Reed, Elkhart County

Brent started out farming by raising soybeans and Polypay sheep. Ashley grew up on a grain and earthworm farm before earning a degree in business administration. Together, they raise corn and soybeans on Brent’s family’s land. When the couple is not farming, they express their love of the land through gardening.

Neal and Lydia Wolheter, LaGrange County

Lydia and Neal both hold bachelor’s degrees, Neal in ag systems management and Lydia in science selling and sales management. Neal manages the family farm operation full time, focusing on row crops. Lydia manages the farm’s accounting and production records and works part time as an independent closer for local title companies.