INDIANAOPOLIS — Finalists have been selected for Indiana Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer awards – the Excellence in Agriculture Award and the Achievement Award. These state awards are conducted as a part of the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Award competition.
The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes outstanding young 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 of Indiana Farm Bureau between the ages of 18 and 35.
Winners of the Excellence in Agriculture 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 Austin, Texas to compete at the American Farm Bureau annual convention in January. Runners-up receive a $1,000 cash prize (courtesy of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance).
The three finalists are:
Alan Duttlinger, Tippecanoe County
Alan Duttlinger grew up on a grain and swine farm where he developed a love for agriculture. His passion for the industry, particularly swine, grew with his involvement in 4-H and FFA. Duttlinger later earned degrees in animal science and swine nutrition. His degrees helped him excel in his career, first as a research and development specialist and then as a nutrition manager for a large pork processor. Through the summer of 2019, Alan will continue work as a graduate research assistant at Purdue University before completing his doctoral degree in swine nutrition. Upon graduation, Alan will begin working as a swine nutrition specialist. He is an active Farm Bureau member, having competed in the American Farm Bureau Federation Discussion Meet and serving as a representative on the State Young Farmers & Ag Professionals Committee.
Eric and Megan Scheller, Vanderburgh County
The Schellers have devoted themselves to serving their local community. Eric grew up on the family farm, where he spent much of his time helping his father with their row crops and participating in FFA. His passion for agriculture remains strong today as he continues to work on the family farm. Eric also works as a diesel technology instructor and has a degree in diesel equipment technology. Megan serves their rural community as a nurse and is currently working toward a master’s degree in nursing. Megan also spends much of her time outside of work on the farm where she helps prepare equipment, does grounds keeping and provides meals. The two also are active in Farm Bureau, serving on the county Farm Bureau board and attending many state Young Farmers & Ag Professionals and leadership events.
Michael and Julie Jolliff, Union County
In many ways, the Jolliffs have devoted themselves to serving the youth in their community. As a family, they use their farmland as a site for students to host their livestock in order to participate in 4-H. In doing so, they provide young people who are not raised on farms the opportunity to be involved in agriculture. They also run a hobby farm and have been farrowing their own pigs for eight years. Off the farm, Michael is a Marquip machine operator at Color-Box. Julie is a program director at the local library and has coordinated agriculture-themed activities as children’s programming. The Jolliffs are active in their county Farm Bureau, having served as Young Farmers & Ag Professionals representatives. They also actively support local agriculture youth programs, including 4-H.
The Achievement Award recognizes and rewards outstanding young Farm Bureau members whose farm management techniques and commitment to their communities set a positive example for others involved in production agriculture. Winners must be voting members of Indiana Farm Bureau between the ages of 18 and 35 and earn the majority of their income from production agriculture.
The winners of the Achievement Award receive a $6,000 cash prize (courtesy of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance), 250 hours of free use of one M-Series tractor (courtesy of Kubota Tractor Corporation) and an all-expenses paid trip to compete at the American Farm Bureau annual convention in Austin, Texas in January. The winners also will be awarded the David L. Leising Memorial Award. Runners-up receive a $1,000 cash prize (courtesy of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance).
The three finalists are:
Kevin and Kim Burton, Fulton County
The Burtons run a diversified farm operation which includes corn, soybeans, hay and beef cows while providing several custom services for other farmers in their part of the state. Kevin has a degree in agriculture business management and crop production and is now the vice president and general manager of the farm, coordinating many of the daily operations. A large part of their business, chicken litter spreading, covers 17 counties across the northern part of the Indiana. Kim has a degree in early childhood education and now works part time on the family farm. She also does photography in her spare time and has photographed families, senior photos and weddings. The Burtons are active Farm Bureau members, having served as Young Farmers & Ag Professionals co-chairs for their county Farm Bureau since 2015.
Brent and Ashley Reed, Elkhart County
A love for the agriculture industry unites Brent and Ashley Reed. Both fourth-generation farmers, the two come from varying facets of the agriculture industry. Brent grew up raising soybeans and Polypay sheep. Ashley grew up on a grain and earthworm farm before earning a degree in business administration. With Brent’s family, they raise corn, soybeans and sheep, and manage any of the operations on the farm. Both Brent and Ashley work on the farm full-time – handling everything from seed selection to running the combine during harvest – and grow both traditional and organic crops. When the couple is not farming, they love to express their love of the land through gardening. As active Farm Bureau members, the two have served as county Young Farmers & Ag Professionals co-chairs since 2016.
Aaron and Lacey Sheller, Hamilton County
The Shellers have farming in their blood – Aaron as a seventh-generation farmer and Lacey as a sixth-generation farmer. Together they now farm non-GMO waxy corn, seed soybeans, cattle and swine. After the unexpected death of his father in 2004, Aaron assumed management of the family farm and later earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and management. Lacey now works full-time on the family farm with a special emphasis on freezer beef and pork sales and distribution. She has a bachelor’s degree in athletic training and was previously employed at the county hospital as an exercise specialist. Lacey and Aaron also formed an LLC in 2007 to also sell seed and liquid fertilizer to several local farms. The Shellers are active in their county Farm Bureau and Aaron currently serves as county Young Farmers & Ag Professionals chair.
The winners of both contests will be announced on the Indiana Farm Bureau Facebook page on Friday, Aug. 30. All finalists will be recognized at the INFB state convention in December.