Six Iowa Farm Families to be Recognized at the Iowa State Fair
Monday, July 11, 2011 Des Moines, IA
Six Iowa farm families will be honored as recipients of The Way We Live Award at the 2011 Iowa State Fair. Each family will be recognized for their love of the land and the product they produce in an individual award ceremony during the Fair. “Nothing Compares” to the Iowa State Fair, set for August 11-21.
The Way We Live Award recognizes industrious Iowa families who demonstrate a daily dedication to animal agriculture and exemplify farm values derived from hard work and a love for the occupation of farming. Entrants were asked to submit a short essay describing how living on a farm and choosing the occupation of farming has shaped their family’s life. Six recipients of the award were chosen from a pool of 71 entries representing a variety of commodities and locations throughout Iowa.
In addition to being honored in award ceremonies during the Fair, each family will receive a prize package including admission to the Fair and $250 cash. The Way We Live Award is sponsored by NewsRadio 1040 WHO and Tractor Supply Company.
Dave and Laura Hommel take pride in family, tradition and happiness — three aspects of life that exist on H & H Farms’ hog and crop operation. Dave and Laura grew up on family farms in Iowa and wanted to carry on the family tradition and agricultural lifestyle. After they both graduated from Iowa State University in 1998, Dave joined his father, Tim, in Grundy County and together they began the H & H Farms partnership. Together they own an independent hog operation, machinery and buildings, plus raise corn and soybeans; the farmland is owned separately. The farm has added value to their crop by feeding the hogs corn from their own fields and fertilizing the crops with manure.
Laura does her part on the farm by updating the financial information, helping in the fields during harvest and raising their three children, Ella (8), Andrew (6), and Daniel (3). Both Dave and Laura are actively involved in the farming community holding positions on the Grundy Country Farm Bureau Board, participating in the Iowa Farm Bureau and speaking on behalf of the farming industry and agricultural issues.
Mark and Jill grew up on rural farms and developed hardworking lifestyles. Upon college graduation Mark joined his father, Don, on the crop and livestock farm in Washington, Iowa. In 2009 Don passed away after an eight year battle with cancer, leaving Mark to handle the day to day operations alone, including 300 acres of beans, 400 acres of corn, 14,000 pigs and a 70 head cow/calf operation. The farm has been committed to conservation practices since the 1970s using manure to fertilize the crops. Both Mark and Jill make time to be actively involved with their local community. Mark currently serves on the Washington County Pork Producers board as president and in 2010 he received the Iowa Master Pork Producer award for his district. Mark annually helps 4-H students at the Washington County Fair swine show. Jill, a loan administrator at Washington State Bank, also oversees the farm finances and participates in the Washington Noon Optimist Club. Mark and Jill’s children, Lauren (4) and Tyler (1) are very curious about how the farm operates and love to be outdoors. “There is no better place to raise a family than on a farm or rural community,” said Jill. “It’s such a satisfying feeling knowing that what we do on the farm helps feed so many. We are so proud to be a part of the Iowa farming community.”
Adam and Melanie Pryor understand that raising five children while simultaneously running a cow-calf operation and farming their land is not the easiest way of life but they believe it is the most rewarding. Both Adam and Melanie were raised on family farms and are the third generation of Pryors to farm the land they own today. “We’re a family committed to keeping the dream of the family farm alive,” Melanie said. The Pryor children, Wyatt (10), Layne (8), and triplets Brodyn, Jax and Kathryn (4) are involved in farm activities and chores and enjoy sharing their knowledge of agriculture with their schoolmates. The youngest children ride along while Adam and Melanie routinely check on the cattle and fields. The older children often ride along in the planter in the spring and the combine in the fall, helping with the seasonal duties. Wyatt and Layne also participate in junior 4-H, showing calves at the fair. Living on a farm provides educational opportunities every day. From witnessing a C-section on a cow to caring for the crops and animals, the children learn patience, science and the value of hard work. With the children so interested in the farming lifestyle at such young ages, the Pryors hope to pass their farm to the next generation in the future.
Ryan Odens has a love for farming that formed at a very young age. He and his brother Nick grew up knowing they would become fourth generation farmers on 1300 acres of family land in Sibley. When their father died unexpectedly from a heart attack, Ryan and Nick, then 20 and 19 respectively, had to take full responsibility for the cattle and crop farm. Three years later the family experienced another turn of events. At age 23, Ryan was in a motor vehicle accident which left him paralyzed from the chest down. Doctors told Ryan he would never walk again and his family and friends encouraged him to pursue another interest. Still, farming remained his dream, and his intense passion for working on the family land became the driving force behind Ryan’s determination to walk again.
After numerous months in various rehabilitation centers far from home, Ryan was able to return to the farm in Sibley. The family worked with the Easter Seals Iowa Rural Solutions Program to install equipment that would enable Ryan to perform routine tasks in the fields and barn. Today, ten years after the accident, an ATV allows him to move from the pasture to the barn and an equipment lift gives Ryan the ability a ladder once provided. Ryan and Nick continue to farm 1300 acres and raise 100 head of cattle. Ryan said at the time of the accident he considered it a tragedy, “I now consider it a blessing because of all the people I’ve met and all the places I’ve been because of it.”
The Schanbacher family’s belief that “dairy farming is a great way of life” shows in their passion for the work that they do. Robert Schanbacher, his wife Brenda and sons Ben, Andy and Dustin all work together milking 100 cows, doing chores and contributing to the round-the-clock demands of a dairy farm. A fourth generation farmer, Robert is also helped by his father Ronnie who mixes feed and does chores, making this farm a true family affair. The Schanbacher sons enjoy showing Holstein cattle at the Benton County Fair and other shows, while Brenda and Robert have both shown champion livestock at the Iowa State Fair. They also have a strong family tradition of involvement in 4-H and FFA. While in high school, Ben and Andy held offices in their FFA chapter, and now youngest son Dustin continues the FFA family tradition. The Schanbachers also reach out to the community, educating children about dairy farming by hosting elementary students to bottle feed calves, and the dairy education continues into the classroom where Brenda has earned the title “Malt Lady” from the students she visits with dairy treats and agricultural education programs. The family was honored to be nominated for the award by their friend and neighbor Diane Bigler-Hagenow, who recently passed away tragically.
Greg and Erin Schroeder have been farming for the past 10 years, raising cattle, hogs, corn and soybeans with the help of their five children. The Schroeders are proud to pass on their love of farming to their children, and each young member of the Schroeder family has their own responsibilities on the farm. Colin (13), cares for some of the family’s hogs and likes to work in the yard with his younger brother Alex (7), who feeds and cares for the family’s dog. Sydney (9) and Olivia (11) are responsible for the family’s chickens, which includes the gathering, cleaning, packaging and selling of the chicken eggs. The girls also enjoy “adopting” baby calves to bottle feed and care for. The family stays busy with fieldwork, raising animals, growing seedlings in their greenhouse and preparing 4-H projects and livestock for the county fair. The Schroeders’ hard work and cooperation show how they live their belief that the farm is a great place to call home.
About the Iowa State Fair
“Nothing Compares” to the 2011 Iowa State Fair, celebrating 100 years of the Butter Cow August 11-21. For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or visit www.iowastatefair.org.