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Southern Idaho Livestock Hall of Fame welcomes new inductees

By Sean Ellis

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

TWIN FALLS – The Southern Idaho Livestock Hall of Fame welcomed five new inductees April 11.

The 62nd Annual Hall of Fame Banquet, which attracted 175 people, was a great opportunity to reflect “on these wonderful people we’re honoring tonight,” said Mike Guerry of Castleford, one of the organization’s board members.

A common theme from the inductees during their acceptance speeches was that any achievements by them over the years were a team effort, involving family, employees and friends.

“You don’t get this award by yourself,” said John Brubaker, who was inducted along with his wife, Barb. “We didn’t do this by ourselves. It was a team effort.”

“I also have to thank my family and friends because without them, I couldn’t have done it,” said LaRay Easterday, who was inducted along with his wife, Janet.

When inductees talk about thanking family, “That extends down to the people you work with,” said Steve Whitesides, who was inducted along with his wife, Abby. “You learn to love their families also. It’s about more than just raising crops or raising cattle.”

Here are the five inductees:

Dr. Bill Barton

Born in Hailey, Barton was raised on the family’s Diamond A Ranch in the Three Creek area of southern Idaho and northern Nevada.

In his award bio, he said that growing up on the ranch “was the stuff of young boys’ dreams. Whether it was cowboying, haying, picking rock or the dreaded spring cleaning of the storehouse, the lessons learned have stayed with me for life.”

After graduating from Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Barton returned to Idaho and began his veterinary career at Rupert Animal Hospital.

He joined the Idaho State Department of Agriculture in 2006 and served as state veterinarian and administrator of the ISDA’s division of animal industries.

“Livestock has always been the cornerstone of my life since conception,” he told the hall of fame banquet crowd. “I could not have been blessed with a more idyllic life than the one I was growing up on the Diamond A.”

John and Barb Brubaker

John Brubaker grew up working on his family’s small dairy farm in Pennsylvania and at age 22 took over and operated his father’s dairy.

He and his wife, Barb, worked side by side running the dairy and raising their four children. In 1991, they moved their family and cows to Buhl.

John told the hall of fame crowd that when they moved to Idaho, they didn’t know anyone.

“This area is one of the friendliest areas I’ve ever run across,” he said. “We are truly blessed in this area.”

John Brubaker has also served on the boards of the Idaho Dairy Products Commission, Dairy West, Dairy Management Inc. and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

One of the Brubaker’s children, Eric, said his parents started out with nothing.

“We all learned a work ethic,” he said. “Dad taught us how to work. You didn’t work, you didn’t eat. I couldn’t be more proud of them for the hard work they’ve put in.”

LaRay and Janet Easterday

LaRay Easterday was born in Nebraska and his family moved to Buhl in 1948. According to his award bio, while attending high school in Castleford, “he also spent a lot of time planning his future with farming and cattle.”

After marrying Janet in 1964, they lived in the Buhl area for about six years, farming with LaRay’s father. In 1972, they moved to the Blue Gulch area, taking land out of sagebrush and farming it for the first time.

According to the couple’s award bio, while LaRay was custom farming for a lot of large dairies and feedlots, he was planning their own cattle operation, gleaning information from the owners about feed rations and animal health.

That seed has grown into the family’s current 4,000 head feedlot.

“In high school, my favorite class was ag class,” LaRay told the hall of fame crowd. “You’ve got to love what you’re doing to be doing it. I’ve always enjoyed having livestock.”

“Grandpa and grandma have really created a picture of the American dream,” said the couple’s grandson, Logan Easterday.

Gerald and Celia Marchant

Gerald and Celia Marchant established Marchant Ranch in the Oakley Basin of southern Cassia County in 1986.

Celia grew up on a registered Hereford outfit in Nevada, while Gerald was raised in the mountain country of Summit County, Utah, where his family maintained a small dairy herd and modest herd of range cows.

The two married in 1961 and later moved to Oakley Valley in Idaho. The Marchant Ranch includes about 400 pairs of mostly Limousin-Angus cross cows.

Besides ranch life, the Marchants have been active in the county fair, 4-H, Idaho Farm Bureau and area church and civic activities.

Gerald served on the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation board of directors for many years.

Their daughter Karen Williams told the hall of fame crowd her parents have “committed their lives to promoting the industry by volunteering their time on countless committees, boards and industry leadership positions.”

“I can think of no two people who greater exemplify a life devoted to agriculture and the livestock industry,” she said. “I’m ever proud to be the daughter of the two most upstanding individuals I know and am grateful for the legacy in the livestock industry they have left for our family and community.”

Steve and Abby Whitesides

The couple married in 1978 shortly after graduating from high school and Steve started working for Bailey Farms, milking cows. According to the couple’s award bio, Steve’s boss let him buy 10 cows and that was the beginning of what would become Whitesides Dairy.

After the Whitesides moved to the farm Steve’s father homesteaded in 1979, their herd grew to 200 head. They then built a double-six milking parlor in 1985, rented Steve’s father’s farm and formed a partnership with Steve’s brother, Brent, as the herd grew to 600 head.

Whitesides Dairy Inc. was formed in 1996 and, according to the couple’s award bio, included a double 24 milking parlor with open lots for 1,500 cows.

The business continued to grow over the years and the operation is currently milking 6,800 head of cows, feeding 15,600 head of Holsteins, and farming 8,300 acres of corn, alfalfa and barley.

In the couple’s award bio, Steve said it’s a blessing to work “with so many great employees and great people in the community. Without the people we had to work with along the way, none of this dream would have been possible.”

Brek Cranney, a banker who met the Whitesides in 1998 and introduced them at the hall of fame banquet, said their operation’s success is all about the livestock.

“They’ve been successful because they’ve taken care of the … livestock,” he said.