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Idaho Farm Bureau presents several awards during annual meeting

By Sean Ellis

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

BOISE – Jim and Doris Pearson of Buhl received Idaho Farm Bureau Federation’s highest honor Dec. 8 during the group’s annual meeting.

The Pearsons, who owned and operated a dairy and grew their own corn and alfalfa before retiring last year, were presented IFBF’s President’s Cup Award, which goes to an individual or individuals who have committed themselves to the organization.

“It’s the highest award we award and it recognizes individuals for their outstanding service to Farm Bureau,” IFBF President Bryan Searle said before presenting the Pearsons with the honor.

He said the award doesn’t mean the person’s service to Farm Bureau is necessarily over. “It just means they are recognized for the many, many years of service and the difference it’s made to our organization.”

Searle said when he thinks of the Pearsons, “I think of the words ‘unselfish servants.’ That’s who they are. They have served and served. They have been dedicated and committed their lives to help others and this great organization and agriculture. They are truly just wonderful people.”

The Pearsons have been involved with Farm Bureau since the 1980s.
“We were very surprised and honored to be given this award,” Jim Pearson said. “We just appreciate Farm Bureau and the things they do. We’d like to thank our Farm Bureau family for this prestigious award.”

“Over the years, we’ve met many very good people and many of them have become lifelong friends,” he added.

Several other awards were presented during the meeting, which took place Dec. 6-8 in Boise.

Andrew Mickelsen, who farms in Roberts, was presented with IFBF’s Achiever Award, which recognizes young farmers or ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operation and honed their leadership abilities.

Mickelsen is a sixth-generation Idaho potato farmer who grows seed potatoes and Idaho spuds for the fresh market.

Chase and Lacy Neilson of Moore received IFBF’s Excellence in Agriculture Award, which spotlights young Farm Bureau members who are agricultural enthusiasts but have not earned a majority of their income from an owned production agriculture enterprise in the past three years.

The Neilsons operate a farm and cattle ranch in eastern Idaho. Chase also works as an agronomist and Lacy as a seamstress and stay-at-home mom. They are chairmen of their local Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers program.

The Achiever and Excellence awards are both part of IFBF’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program, which is open to Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35.

Achiever award contestants are evaluated on a combination of their farming operation’s grown and financial progress and their leadership both within Farm Bureau and outside of the organization.

Contestants give a presentation to a panel of judges, who ask them questions.

Competitors for the Excellence award are judged based on their understanding of ag issues as well as their leadership experiences and achievements.

Jaysa Fillmore from Filer won IFBF’s annual Discussion Meet, which helps young producers hone their public speaking and problem-solving skills during a competition that is meant to simulate a committee meeting rather than a debate.

IFBF also presented awards to Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. of Idaho agents.

Walt Dinning of Boundary County received an Agent of the Year award.

According to one of his nomination letters, “Walt has been a huge advocate for Farm Bureau for over 40 years. His commitment to our county and state (Farm Bureau) organization is evident in his past and present engagement … I would say that apart from the county (Farm Bureau) board activities, Walt Dinning is the face of Farm Bureau in Boundary County.”

Kent Jeppesen of Cassia County was named District Manager of the Year. He regularly attends county Farm Bureau board meetings throughout IFBF’s District III, which encompasses Idaho’s Magic Valley.

One of his nomination letters said that “he is always making sacrifices to attend as many county (Farm Bureau) board meetings as possible to help answer any insurance questions there may be.”

Blake Van Etten of Butte County was named Rookie Agent of the Year.

According to one of his nomination letters, “Blake has created multiple new member benefits in our small community. He has helped in the planning for Young Farmers and Ranchers events and recruitment. He has sponsored local events, which is bringing attention to the Farm Bureau name.”