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Copyright © 2018 Farm Journal Foundation. All Rights Reserved. Farm Journal Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit recognized by the IRS. 

FARMER

BIOS

Annie runs Dee River Ranch, Inc.; a family owned and operated multi-commodity farm operation located near Aliceville in Pickens County in West-Central Alabama.  The operation produces corn, wheat, soybeans, sunflowers, rye, forage crops, cattle, and trees, all with a heavy emphasis on conserving practices such as cover crops and no-till.

 

Other Activities

Annie participates in Harvesting the Potential, a Howard G. Buffet Foundation (HGBF) program designed to promote conservation, no till cultivation, and cover crops.  She is also an ambassador of the HGBF program, Invest An Acre. She is a “Soil Health Partner” with the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).   Annie serves on the United Soybean Board. She shares her diverse-sustainable farming and ranching operation with school groups, leadership groups, local, state, national and international groups.  Annie was a finalist in the 2016 Top Producer competition.

 

Personal

Annie is a graduate of Clemson University’s School of Agriculture.  She is married to Dr. Ed Sikora, Extension Plant Pathologist at Auburn University.  She has three children and Ed has two from a previous marriage.  Her twin sons, Seth and Jesse, help on the farm.  She has traveled to Mexico,   Nicaragua, Dubai, Tanzania and South Africa.

PATTI PRESLEY-FULLER

Co-Lead Farmer ALABAMA

Patti Presley-Fuller grew up in Tate County, Mississippi on a diversified farm. Her family grew cotton, soybeans, wheat, corn, and cattle. Agriculture was her first love, so when Patti’s husband wanted to start a cattle farm, she was ready to take on the challenge. Patti and her husband Tony now own and operate Fuller Farms, a commercial cow-calf operation in Pickens County, AL. The Fullers began their operation in 2005 and now manage 120 head of mostly Angus cattle. 

 

Patti has worked with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System for the past 29 years serving Pickens and Greene Counties. She holds her B.S. degree in Family and Consumer Sciences and her M.S. degree in Extension Education from Mississippi State University. Patti also received her credentialing in Family Development from Auburn University. 

 

Throughout her career, Patti has been involved in numerous community and economic development programs. She has served as the executive director for Leadership Pickens for the past 21 years, directed Leadership Greene for 8 years, and helped establish other leadership programs throughout Alabama’s Blackbelt region. She was a founding member of the Pickens County Tourism Association and served as the organization’s president for several terms. Patti is one of the founding members of the Alabama-Mississippi-Tennessee Rural Tourism Conference and is also an active member of the Pickens County Industrial Development Board and the Aliceville Museum and Cultural Arts Center. 

Mrs. Fuller was selected as the first female president of the Aliceville Rotary Club and helped establish the Greene County Rotary Club. Patti also spent 14 years on the Aliceville City Council 

John Paul Pendergrass is a sixth generation cattle producer in partnership with his father.  The family operation, Pendergrass Cattle Co., Inc., is a stocker and feeder cattle ranching and grow yard located in the Arkansas River Valley.  Pendergrass Cattle Co., Inc. was named National Stocker Operation in 2008 by Beef magazine.

 

In May 2017, John Paul was honored as a 2017 Distinguished Alumni by the Bumpers College of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas.

 

Other Activities

John Paul has been the lead farmer for Arkansas in the Farm Journal Foundation’s Farm Team Program since 2014.  In that capacity, he has met with key members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation to discuss the importance of global food security, and participated in panel discussions on this issue at the 2014 Farm Journal Forum in Washington DC and at a Global Food Security event on the University of Arkansas campus in October 2015.  He also serves on the Board of Directors for Innovative Livestock Services Inc., a farming and cattle feeding operation located in Kansas and Nebraska.

 

In his capacity as lead farmer for Arkansas in the Farmer’s Feeding the World Farm Team program, John Paul worked with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance to establish the Arkansas Beef Project in 2016, an effort to collect ground beef and cash donations from Arkansas farmers to help provide more protein for Arkansans who use food banks in the state.

 

Personal

John Paul has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Arkansas.  John Paul’s wife, Cissie, is a retired middle school teacher and the couple has two grown children.  Their son Eric is an attorney in Fort Smith Arkansas with an agricultural law emphasis.  Their daughter Grace is an elementary school teacher in Niagara Falls, New York.

Jesse is the manager at Foster Feed Yard, a 36,000-head capacity yard located in the Imperial Valley.  He takes a lot of pride in working for a fourth generation family farm, with more than 64 years of experience raising beef in the desert southwest.  His father and three uncles also enjoyed working at the farm for a combined 163 years (43, 44, 40, and 36 years respectively).

Other Activities

He currently works with other cattle producers communicating with consumers on the importance of beef, not only in our diets, but also what the industry represents financially to the Imperial Valley economy.

 

Personal

He received his BS degree in agricultural economists from California State University at Fresno.  Jesse also enjoys raising and showing show cattle with his wife Briana and daughters Lesly and Cameron.  His hobbies include socializing, defending our rural way of life, and standing up for our great country.  His family emigrated from Mexico when he was an infant, and he experienced hunger growing up.

Renee' is a fifth generation Floridian and fourth generation cattle producer. Her roots in livestock and agriculture run deep by being raised on a 90,000 acre cattle ranch that her father managed for 28 years which also had crop farming, timber, sod, hunting and other agribusinesses.

 

After finishing school at the University of South Florida, she was employed on a ranch near Bradenton, Florida until moving to Louisiana where she worked on an Arabian Horse Breeding Farm that serviced over 200 mares. She obtained a good working knowledge of artificial insemination, and other animal reproduction techniques. While in Louisiana, she picked up a trade that would later become a very successful business for her by learning to abstract land titles for oil companies. She took her title searching and abstracting skills back home to Florida to work at a local title company until starting her own independent title searching business in 1990 called TnT Searching, Inc. Still in operation today, revenue from this 28-year old firm has been helped to support the business that has always been near to her heart, that of being a cattle rancher.

 

She eventually fulfilled a lifelong dream of obtaining her own cattle in the early 90's. She borrowed money from a bank and bought a herd of red cattle. Along with her partner, they own several hundred head of commercial cattle on several thousand acres known as Strickland Ranch, a commercial cow/calf operation including Brangus, Beefmaster and Braford cattle. She started exporting livestock in 2006 after a trip to Cuba to send Florida cattle to the island. Because of her love of a good challenge, traveling abroad and meeting people in agriculture, it was a good fit. In addition to exporting cattle, both dairy and beef, the business now includes shipping horses, sheep, goats, pigs, agricultural supplies and equipment to countries all over the world but especially in her backyard of the rest of the Western Hemisphere.

 

Renee' is the immediate past President of the Livestock Exporters Association of the US (their first female President) and chairperson of the Foreign Trade Committee for the Florida Cattlemen's Association and is currently serving on the federal APAC (Agricultural Political Advisory Committee) to the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative on behalf of live animal exports and also sits on an advisory committee for the Florida Department of Agriculture for Marketing "Fresh from Florida products".

Ricky Dollison Sr. is a 4th generation small business farmer whose specializing in swine management and row cropping has made him not only a staple in Poulan, GA but an integral part of the agricultural community for South Georgia. Mr. Dollison's humble spirit comes from his strong faith and belief in the products that he produces and the friendly and courteous service his clients receive.

 

An efficient and productive Swine Manager, Mr. Dollison takes the time to research and ensure that from the livestock that he raises to the crops that he grows, all of his products are of high quality. Dedicated to serving the community that supports him and the products he produces, Mr. Dollison is committed to making sure that his community is educated on healthy choices and are provided the opportunity to receive healthy foods.

 

Dollison Farms prides itself in giving back to the community that so richly supported it. "Our 10%" campaign is designed to help assist with the needs of our beautiful community. Our desire is to sow back as it is been so richly sown into us.

Larry Sailer is a farmer from Iowa Falls, Iowa. He grew up on a diversified Geneva, IA farm and graduated from Hampton, IA.  He has raised pigs since he was a very young boy until the past year. At present, He grows corn & soybeans on his farm, and also works full time as a Construction Site Supervisor for Christensen Farms of Sleepy Eye, MN.

 

He and his  wife, Janice,have five children, 11 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. They are members of Bethel Reformed Church of rural Aplington, IA, where Larry is an Elder of the church and on the Church Health Team.

 

Lary is  a member of the Franklin County Farm Bureau board, serving as president for the past two years. He is co-chair of the Franklin Co Republican Central Committee, as well as volunteering on other county boards.  He has been Franklin Co Pork Producer president, Feeder Pig Chairman on the IPPA board and on the Operation Main Street team for the National Pork Board.

 

He is also on the board of the North Iowa Ag in the Classroom, and F.A.R.M. Speakers Core of the Iowa Farm Bureau.   He authors a guest blog as ‘The Musings of a Pig Farmer’ every Tuesday, for ‘thefieldposition.com’.

Heather Hampton+Knodle farms with her husband Brian in south central Illinois. They bale their cover crop of cereal rye to feed black Angus cattle.  In addition to raising their four children, they grow corn, soybeans and some wheat.

 

In addition to being responsible for keeping books for their farming operation, including employee records and benefits, and managing public affairs, Heather was the founding chairman of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, the Central Illinois Economic Development Authority and the Montgomery CEO program. 

 

She is dedicated to developing rural economies through incentivizing investments in telecommunications, innovative workforce development and enabling entrepreneurship.  Her commitment to rural communities shows in recent efforts to attract a $5 million dollar private investment in fiberoptic-to-the-premises by leveraging $6000 of public funds and her leadership of Starr Shooters 4-H club as well as being the “Storyteller” at Vacation Bible School.

Her background includes serving as Executive Director for the Upper Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri Rivers Association and Illinois-based agricultural groups.  She has served as a state and national officer with American Agri-Women and as an elected member of the Montgomery County Board.

She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture News/Editorial from the University of Illinois and the equivalent of a minor in Russian language and area studies.  Her course of study included study in in Nottingham, England for a year and Tsarkoe Celo, Russia for two months. .

A guiding proverb for Heather comes from China, “When there is much food on the table, there is much to talk about. When there is no food on the table, there is one thing to talk about.”

Kassi is a member and Assistant Director of Administration at Tom Farms.  Her responsibilities include Land Partner Relations, Public Relations, Human Resources, Events Coordination, and Social Media.  Tom Farms is a multi-generation, family owned organization firmly planted in fertile prairies of North Indiana, producing corn, soybeans, and seed corn.

 

Other Activities

Kassi is a graduate of the Executive Program for Agricultural Producers.  She also participates in the Purdue Extension Service Annie’s Group.  Kassi engages in the Top Producer Executive Network Peer Group, as well as a Agriculture Ladies Peer Group.  She is also serves on the Purdue University Extension Board of Kosciusko County.  Lastly, Kassi is passionate about serving her community and world and sharing the importance of Agriculture.

 

Personal

 

Kassi attended Davenport Business College in South Bend and Indiana-Purdue University at Fort Wayne (IPFW).  She grew up on the same farm she works today.  She and her husband Greg live in rural Warsaw with their daughters Reagan (14) and Reese (11).

Joe Kejr is a third generation farmer with a passion for his faith, family, and farming.  Joe farms with his wife Geena, son Josh, a nephew and a brother.  The farm is a no-till grain operation with wheat, corn, sorghum, and soybeans being the main crops.

 

Other Activities

Joe is a member of the first Covenant Church and has served on numerous boards.  He served as State Representative from his district for three terms, starting in 1993.  He has also served on the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers (KAWG) board and served as its President for two years.  During his time on  the KAWG board he also served several years on the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) Board and chaired the Joint Biotech committee with U.S. Wheat and NAWG.   Through his church, he is working with a village in Guatemala to help improve that community's welfare by enhancing their agricultural practices.

 

Personal

Joe and Geena have three children, Robyn, Josh, and Michelle.  They live on the family farm in rural Saline County.  He has traveled to Brazil, Mexico, and Guatemala.

Tyler is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Veris Technologies, a manufacturer of precision agriculture tools.  He also co-manages the family farm in eastern Saline County where they grow wheat, soybeans, and sorghum. 

 

Tyler is a 2006 graduate of Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. He graduated with a BA in Business and Political Science. He completed his studies in Washington, D.C. at the American Studies Program where he began working on Capitol Hill for U.S. Senator Jerry Moran.  He served as a legislative assistant throughout the 2008 Farm Bill process during the period when then-Congressman Moran chaired the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.

 

Before returning to the farm and family business in Kansas, Tyler and his wife Lydia served for one year with the NGO Partners Worldwide near Nairobi, Kenya, helping small-holder farmers secure microloans and learn new farming and business concepts.  Their passion to use farming as a way to serve others continues as they and their three daughters Addyson (6), Amelia (3), and Ayla (1) provide a home to foster children that offers learning opportunities in the garden, greenhouse and row crop farming.

Ken farms with his family in Calhoun County, Michigan and is a second generation cattle feeder. Graduating from Michigan State University in 1983 with an Animal Science degree, he went home to the family farm and expanded the feed-yard as well as worked with his brother to grow the swine operation. Blight Farms Inc. currently is operated by not only Ken and Art but also a niece Afton and nephew Stan producing beef, pork, corn, soybeans and wheat.  

 

Ken is a long time member of the Michigan Cattlemen's Association as well as National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and serves on the NCBA Board and one term on the Michigan Beef Industry Commission Board. He is currently a member of the Advisory Committee to the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, a voluntary environmental program developed for Michigan, and his was one of the first feedlots verified under that program. In 2006, Blight Farms was honored with the region 1 Environmental Stewardship Award sponsored by NCBA, USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Dow Agrosciences.

Karolyn and her husband Bill have been married 43 years and farm in North Western Minnesota on a 4th-generation farm along with their two sons.  They raise corn, soybeans, and sugar beets.

 

Other Activities

Karolyn is current President of Minnesota Agri-Women and also is the Chair of American Agri-Women Government Affairs and Vital Issues.  Karolyn serves on the State Board on Ag in the Classroom and Minnesota Soybean Growers.  She is the current chair of Northern Crops Institute.  Her roles in these organizations have given her the chance to work around the world.

 

Personal

The Zurns also have three daughters, who all work in the agricultural world, which makes Karolyn  very proud.  The Zurns also have 10 grandchildren.  Karolyn and Bill have led an active life with their children being involved in 4-H, FFA, Rodeo, church, community, and many sports.  Besides raising a family and working on the farm, Karolyn also worked off the farm as a Sales Representative for several food service companies, including Procter and Gamble.  Both Karolyn and her husband stay busy as Agriculture Advocates.

A farmer for 43 years, Danny farms 1,600 acres. His major crops are soybeans and corn.

 

Other Activities

Danny was a county FSA committee member for Madison County between 1980-83, and later from 2004-2010.  Danny has been a member of the Mississippi Soybean Association since 1984 and served as its president from 1990-92.  He was a member of the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board from 1994-2005, and served as its chairman in 2001-02.  He was a member of the Mississippi Corn Promotion Board from 2006-2011, and was chairman from 2006-08. 

 

He has served as a Director of the American Soybean Association (ASA) since 2005, and served on the organization's Farm Bill Task Force from 2010-14.  He was ASA's Public Affairs Committee chairman in 2012.  At ASA, he also served as treasurer and vice president in 2010, first vice present in 2012, president in 2013, and chairman in 2-014.  He was the director of the United States Soybean Export Council from 2008-12, and served as treasurer from 2009-11.  Danny also served on USDA's Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee from 2012-14.

 

Personal

Danny and his wife Jo have two adult children, Matthew and Timothy.  He has traveled to Mexico, South Korea, Colombia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Paraguay, Brazil, and several European countries

Vanessa farms with her husband Paul and their son Blaine, raising corn, soybeans, wheat, and sugar beets on their farm outside Colfax, North Dakota.

 

Other Activities

She has been very active in commodity groups over the last 15 years, serving on the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, the United Soybean  Board, and is a current committee member for the North Dakota Soybean Council.  As a director for nine years on USB, she served as chairperson of various committees, ending her service as Chairwoman of USB.

 

Personal

Vanessa is also very active in her community and has served on Our Savior's Lutheran Church Council, and spent many years as a 4-H leader and Little League coach.  She has travelled to South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Mozambique.

Rick is a partner in New Vision Farms, a 6,000 acre farming business in Northwest Ohio.  New Vision Farms produces popcorn for the Orville Redenbacher, Act II, and Pop Weaver brands.  It also grows fresh green beans, which are sold under various private store labels.  In addition, the farm grows specialty, identity-preserved wheat and soybean seeds for Pioneer.

 

Other Activities

 

Rick serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Henry County Bank and for the Henry Countyn Hospital.  He served for more than 10 years on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Grains Council, during which he served five years in the officer rotation and one year as Chairman of the Board.  While at the Council, Rick represented U.S. agriculture in approximately 30 countries around the world, where he interacted with foreign grain buyers, government officials, and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.  He came to the Council as a representative of the Ohio Corn  Marketing Program, where he was a member of the Board of Directors for nine years and a Board officer for two years.  During the 1990’s, Rick volunteered for the Farmer-to-Farmer program with ACDI/VOCA, working in Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Brazil, and Ecuador.

 

Personal

 

Rick holds a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture (summa cum laude) from Ohio State University, and an MBA (with distinction) for the University of  Michigan.

Kasey Bryant Bamberger is a third generation partner in Bryant Agricultural Enterprise, a corn, soybean, and wheat production located in Southwest Ohio. In 2013, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Wright State University. After graduation, Kasey returned to the family operation. Today, Kasey has a diverse role at the business. She develops and reviews all financials, manages insurance and grain marketing, takes part in all land partner relations, oversees all information technology across the farm, and works alongside her father in the development of growth and succession planning of their operation.

 

Other Activities

 

Aside from managing the family farm operation, Kasey is a partner and the office manager of Optimal Outdoor Solutions, LLC, a local turf and landscape business. She is the junior varsity and assistant varsity women’s basketball coach at her alma mater, Miami Trace High School. Bryant-Bamberger is also actively involved in the Big Brother Big Sisters Organization, local youth camps, and has a passion for giving back to her community.

 

Personal

She and her husband Brad, a prototype mechanical engineer for F-Tech Research and Development, Inc., reside in Circleville, Ohio, just north of the family farm operation.

Luke Brubaker and his wife and two sons own and operate Brubaker Farms, raising 950 milk cows and 800 young cattle, 250,000 broiler chickens, and crops on more than 1,000 acres of farmland.  At the time  that Luke purchased the farm from his father in the 1970’s, it was only an 18-cow dairy operation.

 

The Brubaker family has taken many steps to ensure that the farm is environmentally compliant and economically sustainable.  All tracts have approved soil conservation plans in place to ensure that soil resources are protected, and the livestock operations comply with Pennsylvania state government rules for nutrient and odor management.  In addition, the farm added a methane digester to convert cow manure into energy.  That facility now provides power for between 150-200 homes in the Mount Joy area.

 

Luke is not only active as a farmer, but is an outspoken advocate for Pennsylvania agriculture as well.  He serves as a member and chairman of the Pennsylvania State Milk Marketing Board, and is an active member of the Lancaster County and Pennsylvania Farm Bureaus.  Previously, Luke served on the board of directors for the Lancaster County Farmland Trust and held the presidency of the Lancaster County Farm and Home Foundation.  Mr. Brubaker has also served as the chairman of the Farm Service Agency county committee for Lancaster County, as well as the Board of Supervisors for the East Donegal Township.

The Ducheneaux Ranch is a third generation cow-calf operation in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.  On the family ranch, Zach has helped to establish a herd of 300 Black Angus-crossbred cows and 20 Quarter Horse mares, and has found continued success in the family tradition of horse breeding.

 

The Ducheneaux’s base of operations consists of about 600 acres, but they also rent another 12,000 acres from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and private individuals. In addition to raising cattle and horses on the land, the Ducheneauxs have about 250 acres of farm ground which has in the past produced oats, wheat and Sudan grass and is currently in alfalfa.

 

In addition to running his own successful ranch, Zach works to ensure fellow American Indian farmers and ranchers find the resources they needed to thrive as agricultural producers. In the mid-1990s, Zach became involved with the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC), which was founded in 1987 to pursue and promote the conservation, development and use of our agricultural resources for the betterment of Native American people. Zach began at the IAC as a farm advocate and last year he began working as the IAC's program manager for the Tribal Technical Assistance Network.

Steve and Cindy farm 2,500 acres near Plainview, TX, in a diversified operation that grows crops such as cotton, corn, sunflowers, grain sorghum, wheat, and sesame.   The Olsons have been farming together for 27 years.

 

 

Other Activities

 

Steve is involved with the National Cotton Council and is on the Board of Directors of Ag Producers’ Cooperative.

 

 

Personal

 

Steve has a Master’s Degree from West Texas A&M.  The Olsons have two children—a son, Tanner, who is being brought into the farming operation, and a daughter, Leah, who is a speech therapist in the local school system.

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