By Sean Ellis
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
FORT HALL – Five leaders in the region’s farming industry were inducted into the Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame March 22.
The Hall of Fame’s 35-member board inducted Carol Guthrie of Inkom, LaVar Newman of Monteview, Dr. Kleal Hill of Arco, Carl Lufkin of Salmon and Jean Schwieder of Iona.
During the EIHF’s annual recognition dinner, the Ed Duren Memorial Young Producer Award was presented to MaCoy Ward of Dubois.
EIHF officials said the Hall of Fame honors people who have made significant contributions to the region’s agricultural industry.
“I really appreciate the stories of the success and the hard work and dedication of the folks who are being honored here tonight,” Idaho State Director of Agriculture Celia Gould said during the Hall of Fame’s 47th annual recognition dinner.
All five Hall of Fame inductees, as well as Ward, are Idaho Farm Bureau members.
Guthrie, who owns a ranch along the Portneuf River south of Inkom, said that when she and her husband first purchased the land where the ranch is located, the river, which meanders through the property, was taking a substantial amount of land per year.
The Guthries, over several years, installed various erosion control methods to turn the river bed into a greatly improved riparian zone.
“Today, the ranch is a model for soil conservation rehabilitation and the Guthries have hosted numerous tours and received statewide recognition for their efforts,” Guthrie’s induction biography states.
“We’ve always felt that you need to leave things better than how you found them,” Guthrie said during the Hall of Fame induction event.
She was also recognized for her role as an advocate for agricultural literacy. Guthrie has been a member of the Idaho Ag in the Classroom Association for more than 18 years and has organized tours, workshops and other events across the state for teachers who participate in Idaho Ag in the Classroom activities.
Guthrie has also held major leadership roles in county, state and national Farm Bureau efforts.
A lot of people don’t understand how their food is produced, said EIHF board member Rick Phillips, who nominated Guthrie.
“Carol has changed that in East Idaho,” he said. Thanks to her efforts, “Thousands of Idaho students and hundreds of teachers now at least have a beginning understanding of this miracle that we know as Idaho agriculture.”
Guthrie said that today’s students are soon going to be the state’s leaders and “they need to know about agriculture and how important it is in our lives.”
Through the years, Newman has raised seed potatoes, commercial potatoes, seed peas, pigs, sheep, dairy cattle, wheat, malt barley and alfalfa.
He started his own agricultural business on rented ground when he was a sophomore in high school and he built a large family operation from the ground up.
According to his bio, “Over a lifetime of hard work, his farm turned into an 8,000-acre-plus operation … Of those acres, some 1,500 acres was ground Newman had to clear of sagebrush with a beater, level out for farming, drill wells and install power.”
Newman said the secret to his success is no secret at all; it’s called “hard work.”
“My generation knew what a shovel was for, and a pitchfork and an axe,” he said. “My folks lived through the Depression and it was hard to make a living, so we learned to work and it was hard work.”
His advice to other farmers, particularly those who are struggling or just getting started: “You have good years and bad years, you just have to hang in there.”
According to his bio, Newman was one of the first people in the Monteview area to bale with an accumulator and stack with a tractor and he was also one of the first to install irrigation circles in the area and run wheel lines. He was also one of the first hay growers to buy his own semis and trailers to deliver his hay to customers.
“LaVar was always willing to try new equipment and be ahead of his time,” said EIHF board member Richard Larsen, who nominated him.
Dr. Kleal Hill
Hill has operated a one-veterinarian practice for 40 years in Arco.
He said he was surprised when he got the call informing him of his induction into the Hall of Fame. “I wondered what I did to get picked,” he said. “It’s a pretty big honor for an old worn-out vet.”
Hill’s clients include large and small commercial cattle operators, sheep and equine operations, some hogs and also some smaller animals such as dogs and cats.
According to his induction bio, “Dr. Hill’s work has improved the life of many animals and helped his clients to stay in business.”
“He has positively impacted the quality of livestock, and their care, in a wide area,” said EIHF board member Dale Clark, who nominated Hill. “Dr. Hill has been on call 24/7 for 40 years … trying to do the right thing in less than ideal conditions. He represents the quality that the Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame stands for.”
Hill, who grew up on his family’s farm near Mackay and always had a keen interest in animals, said his job has required a lot of long hours and hard work over the decades but added, “I’ve had a lot of fun doing this.”
He said when he was first out of vet school, he thought he could fix the world.
“That don’t work,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to tell a 70-year-old rancher he’s doing everything wrong. It doesn’t take long to figure out that, do the work they ask you for and if they want your advice, they’ll ask. Just try to do as good a job for them as you can do.”
Lufkin owns a cow-calf operation in Salmon that runs about 300 registered Angus cattle and sells about 85 bulls a year.
According to his bio, he has “built a good seed stock herd and produced bulls which are reported to be practical and efficient for his customers in the range cattle business.”
He has been a leader in the beef cattle industry for many years, according to his bio, which noted that he “has donated many hours to activities that benefited producers and permittees on federal range.”
Lufkin has served on the Idaho Cattle Association’s board of directors since 2011 and served as ICA president for two years. He has also served on the board of directors for the Lemhi County Cattle and Horse Growers Association.
EIHF board member Jay Wiley, who nominated Lufkin, said “his continuing efforts (have) benefited not only ranchers in Lemhi County but across all of Idaho as well.”
Lufkin, who was raised on his family’s cow-calf operation in the Rigby area, said some boys dream of becoming sports stars or race car drivers but his dream was to be in the cattle business.
“How rich is a man who does every day the thing he dreams of as a boy,” he said.
Lufkin credited his success to having a lot of good mentors.
“I had a lot of good teachers and I figured out what those guys were doing that was working,” he said. “A lot of the guys who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame are mentors of mine.”
Jean Schwieder is a partner in a large farm and ranch operation, and she helps her husband manage 250 head of cattle and 2,200 acres of farm ground. They primarily grow hay, alfalfa, wheat and barley.
She is also a writer who has written and developed much of the news print media and graphics distributed by the Idaho grain industry over the past 10 years.
She authors a column, “Straddlin’ the Fence,” and writes bi-weekly articles about farm life and country living. Her works have been published in 10 books and her stories appear often in the Intermountain Farm and Ranch newspaper. The Idaho Grain Producers Association has awarded her its Print Media Award.
“I’ve always enjoyed writing and there are a lot of stories out there about agriculture and about what we face in the industry and about the fun and joy of it,” she said.
She said she tries to incorporate some humor into her stories “and I like to tell the fun stories that we have. It’s a wonderful life. You can’t beat the life of a farmer or rancher.”
According to her bio, Schwieder has also “been a driving force in hosting Idaho grain tours for foreign buyers from the Philippines, Japan, China, Egypt, Morocco and several Washington, D.C., ambassadors.”
“(Schwieder) has been and continues to be a role model for many young women,” said EIHF board member Dr. John Walker, who nominated her.
Ed Duren Memorial Award – MaCoy Ward
Ward is the second person to receive the Ed Duren Memorial Young Producer Award, which recognizes an agricultural producer under the age of 40 for production innovations, leadership and who has had a positive impact on the Eastern Idaho ag industry.
Duren, who passed away last year, was a University of Idaho Extension livestock specialist based in Soda Springs.
According to the EIAHF, “Ed spent a 39-year career (and many more years as a professor emeritus) providing education, outreach and leadership to producers and organizations across Idaho and beyond. His impact on agriculture in Idaho is beyond measure.”
Ward, 33, and his wife raise Angus cattle in the Terreton area. They also raise wheat and alfalfa.
Ward also serves as a Clark County Commissioner, and as a member of the county’s search and rescue team as well as the Clark County Stockgrowers Association. He is also involved in the Camas Creek Rangeland Fire Protection Association.
“In small towns, you wear multiple hats,” he said.
“As a producer and elected county leader, he continues to work to improve lives and circumstances of agricultural producers and others,” his bio states.
“It’s great to get an award for doing something you love,” Ward said.
His advice to beginning farmers or ranchers: “Stay in it and put in the hard work. Don’t give up.”