Dec 26, 2017, 14:00 PM
Kathleen M. Dutro
District 8 director focuses on keeping up with new challenges faced by members
Kermit J. Paris (pictured left) was on the staff of Indiana Farm Bureau for 37 years and he essentially grew up in Farm Bureau – but he’s now ready for even greater involvement.
Beginning at the close of the 2017 convention, he became INFB’s District 8 director, replacing the retiring Mark Bacon.
“Indiana Farm Bureau is a general farm organization representing members that farm in all sizes and various enterprises,” he said. “The dynamics of our members are rapidly changing, and it is important that we keep up with those changes and new challenges that are faced by our members.”
Paris and his wife, Diane, are heavily involved in agriculture. They own and operate Clifty Creek Farm in southern Rush County where they raise alpacas and process the fiber into products sold at farmers markets, festivals, online and elsewhere. They also own two farms in Shelby County, including the farm Diane grew up on, and Paris and his brothers own Lone Hill Farms Inc. in Fountain and Boone counties, which they started in 1975 with their parents. The farm business expanded in 1991 to include an additional farm in Fayette County, which is where Paris lived at the time.
He first got involved with Farm Bureau through his family.
“My grandparents were charter members and my parents were involved at the township level, so that was my introduction,” he said. He reorganized the Fountain County Rural Youth in the mid-1970s and was active in Rural Youth at the county, district and state level until being hired by Farm Bureau as “fieldman” (the position now referred to as “regional manager”) in 1980. As a staff member, he served on numerous committees including the comprehensive strategic plan committee for Farm Bureau in 1988-89, the Decatur/Fayette/Franklin County Steering Committee for Leadership 2000 in 1994-95, and the INFB internal communications study committee in 1999, which he chaired.
He’s also been active outside Farm Bureau, serving as vice chairman and later chairman of the Shelby County Council, the hospital appointment board, and county council liaison to the Soil and Water District, Sheriff’s Department, jail and merit board. He also represented INFB on the Indiana AgrIInstitute board.
He has two grown daughters, Emily Alcorn and Mary Beth McMurry, and his hobbies include farming, history, travel, politics and gun-collecting.
“We are in the member-service business and I will always keep members in mind when I make decisions representing them,” Paris said when asked what he’d like members to know about him. “Actions will speak louder than words.”
Young Farmer program was new District 9 director’s intro to INFB
Farmer, veterinarian and blogger Marybeth Feutz (pictured center) is Indiana Farm Bureau’s new District 9 director.
Feutz took office just after the 2017 convention, replacing Philip Springstun.
For the Feutzes – Feutz, husband John and their 4-year-old son Joseph – veterinary medicine is kind of the family business. She has a degree in veterinary medicine, holds a separate Ph.D. in equine respiratory disease, and is a consultant for the veterinary hospital owned by John and his father, Jim, both of whom are veterinarians.
Joseph “loves tractors and wants to grow up to be a farmer and a veterinarian just like his parents,” Feutz said.
The family lives in Princeton and farms with John’s parents, maintaining a cow-calf herd that includes some registered Angus cattle for breeding stock or show and some commercial beef cattle. They also raise hay for their own use and for sale, and they sell produce from a stand in town from their extra-large garden.
Feutz, who grew up in suburban West Milford, New Jersey, and went to school in Massachusetts, learned farming “on the fly” after marrying John. And that was the inspiration for her blogging career. Her current blog is called My Fearless Kitchen, and she shares recipes, kitchen and grocery store tips and lots of information about where food comes from, how it is grown and food safety.
“As I got more involved in the farming lifestyle,” she wrote, “I started to have more and more questions about what we were doing and why. I just wanted to understand more of what was going on in our family business and at our home. I knew that since I was having these questions, that so many other people must also have these questions!”
She first became involved with Farm Bureau through the Young Farmer program. The Feutzes were the winners of the Indiana Excellence in Ag Award in 2012. In addition, she served one term as the District 9 education and outreach coordinator and also as the public relations coordinator for Gibson County Farm Bureau.
“I did not grow up on a farm and have learned a lot about farming since I moved to Indiana, married John, came to our farm and joined Farm Bureau,” Feutz said. “I love learning about how everyone does things just a little differently from the farmer up the road. I will always have lots of questions and look forward to learning even more about how Indiana farmers do the best for their farms, their land, and their families.”
New District 10 director seeks opportunities to advocate for agriculture
It was his expertise in energy efficiency that got Bob Geswein (pictured right) involved in Farm Bureau.
As an energy advisor for Harrison Rural Electric Membership Cooperative (a position he’s now held for more than 22 years), Geswein gave a presentation on the topic of residential energy efficiency at a Harrison County Farm Bureau annual meeting nearly 20 years ago. Afterwards, a local dairy farmer named Bill Watts asked if he was a Farm Bureau member.
“I said no and told him I did not have a good reason why I was not,” Geswein said. Watts signed him up, and he’s been a member ever since.
“I am grateful to that gentleman for being willing to ask me to share in the marvelous Farm Bureau work that he was involved in,” Geswein said. Geswein just took office as District 10 director, replacing the retiring Robert Schickel.
Prior to his election to the board, Geswein served as Floyd County Farm Bureau president for 14 years. He’s also served as county vice president, INFB delegate, ELECT committee trustee and board member and has at the state level served on the property rights committee, resolutions committee and county achievement committee, and as a delegate to the American Farm Bureau convention.
In his position with Harrison REMC, he has presented around 1,000 energy seminars, mostly in Indiana but also Kentucky, Ohio, Florida and Oklahoma.
Geswein also owns a small (46 acre) farm that produces corn and soybeans, and he owns 13 IH tractors made from 1958 to 1985, which are his main “fun-time interest.” One of the things he uses his tractors for is hauling customers at Joe Huber’s Family Farm to their pumpkin patches, something he’s done for 29 straight years.
“I am a part-time announcer for the Battle of the Bluegrass Tractor and Truck Pulling Association. I especially love announcing for the antique tractors, 1958 and older,” he said.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture economics from Purdue University and also served in the U.S. Army Reserve for eight years, “which is quite an education,” he added.
He and his partner, Rosemary Barmore, live near Charlestown, and they have six kids and 19 grandkids.
When asked what was his favorite thing about being elected to the board, Geswein said, “Knowing that no matter what position I serve in with Farm Bureau, I am advocating for agriculture.”