The Way We Live
The Way We Live Award, sponsored by Pioneer, Iowa Farmer Today and the WHO BIG show, recognizes Iowa farm families who have demonstrated their dedication to agriculture and strong Iowa farm values. Six families were chosen in 2019. The award, started in 2009, has recognized 63 outstanding Iowa farm families so far. Each award-winning family receives a prize package of $250, Fair admission, a parking pass, food vouchers, lodging provided by Holiday Inn Downtown Mercy Campus and recognition in the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center during the Iowa State Fair, August 8-18, 2019. See if you know the previous winners and be sure to thank them for their service and dedication to the agriculture industry.
2019 AWARD WINNERs
The Rick and Kathy Demmer family owns Le-O-La Holsteins, a dairy farm whose focus is to produce safe and wholesome products for the general public. The farm was started by Leo and Stella, Rick’s parents. In 1991, Rick and Kathy transitioned into ownership of Le-O-La Holsteins, where they built onto the original barn and doubled their herd size over the next few years. Currently, they milk eighty-three registered Holsteins and two Jersey cows with around 150 young stock on the farm. The Demmers focus on breeding high quality cattle that are backed by a deep pedigree to make for a more sustainable and profitable animal. The family members have served in agriculture leadership roles in their community and Iowa and welcome visitors to their farm to learn about agriculture and the dairy industry. The Demmer children and family members were active in 4-H, Iowa Junior Holstein and participated in dairy quiz bowl and judging. The Demmer family believes that raising children on a farm teaches them valuable life skills that results in a good work ethic and will lead to success later in life. Children learn to respect their farm family’s livelihood, knowing that when they sit with their family at meal time, they were able to produce the food on the table.
Todd and Wendy Hagen Family
The Hagen family has been farming in the Homestead area for around 120 years. The crops grown on the Hagen family farm include corn, soybeans and hay, as well as a cow and calf operation. Todd began farming in 1983, and his son Taylor in 2018. Taylor is the fifth generation to farm in the Hagen family. Todd oversees the day-to-day management of the farm while Wendy manages the bookkeeping, farm and family organization, and Taylor takes care of the crops, cattle, and maintenance and repair of farm equipment. Family farming traditions include participating and attending the county fair and having meals in the field during the fall harvest. Sons Taylor and Tanner were both active in 4-H showing calves and doing agricultural projects. The Hagens strive to be agriculture ambassadors by being good stewards of the land and good herdsmen of the farm operation. Farming has had an impact on the Hagen family life, as they feel blessed to be surrounded by family everyday while working together on the family farm.
Moretz Family Farms
The Moretz Family Farms consist of row crops, including corn, soybeans and hay, and has a large focus on livestock with cow-calf and farrow-to-finish hog operations. In 1969, Arthur and Sharon purchased the current home farm. All members of the Moretz family work together to achieve a common goal, as everything they do as a family revolves around the farming operation. Three generations, Arthur, Dean and Nathan, run the day-to-day operations of the farm by taking care of the cattle, repairs and crop work. Nathan and his wife Melissa handle the responsibilities of the wean-to-finish pigs. Nathan’s brothers, Mitchell and Timen, help in the spring and fall with field work and harvest. Dean’s wife Tanna runs the grain cart in the fall and helps move equipment in the spring. Sharon used to run the combine every fall. Other family members help by providing meals during the busy times of the year. Several members of the family serve on various agriculture-related boards and other community organizations.
Joel Sickelka Farm
On their family farm in Sutherland, the Joel Sickelka family raises cow-calf pairs and feed beef cattle, as well as soybeans, corn and hay. All family members are involved in the farm operation. Joel works alongside family members to do the planting and harvesting, and his wife and children have helped by spending hours baling hay, fixing fence, picking up rocks and sorting cattle. The Sickelka children were all involved in 4-H and found the O’Brien County Fair to be a special place because of the family atmosphere. The family farm operation has been influential in their lives as they have learned how to take care of others through the lessons of compassion, responsibility and humility. Growing up on a farm has taught the family the value of a strong work ethic and selflessness.
M&C Anderson Pullets
In 1968, Colleen “Coke” Anderson and her husband purchased a 270-acre farm in Clay County. Initially raising sheep and having a corn/soybean/alfalfa rotation, the farm has centered their focus on raising pullets. The farm currently raises between four and five million pullets annually. Coke is a member of the Iowa Poultry Association and an environmental committee member of United Egg Producer, as well as being a former chairman of the board of the American Egg Board and having served on the Iowa Egg Council. Coke believes that “a job worth doing is worth doing well.” On the farm, there are a number of different jobs, and each one is important to the whole enterprise. Over the past 51 years, Coke has had many family members and employees who have helped her achieve more success than she could have ever envisioned. One of her greatest joys has been seeing them move on to greater responsibilities and successes and knowing she had a part in those accomplishments.
Cummings Family Farms
The Cummings Family Farms have changed since their beginnings in 1955 by the head of the family, James. In 1955, James returned home from the Air Force during the Korean War and moved his family to establish roots in rural Marion County. There, he raised hogs, dairy cattle, sheep and beef cattle, teaching his children the value of growing up on a farm and sparking a family tradition that continues today. Today, James’ sons Don and Larry have transitioned their focus to row crops and cattle. Don’s son Connor has joined the operation to develop a sizable cow-calf, row crop and forage operation. Other business endeavors include fencing, tiling and auctioneering. The Cummings family believes in the future of the agriculture industry and focuses on working with the youth in the community to teach them the importance of farming and agriculture in society. Don, Larry and Connor Cummings have served as swine superintendents for over 30 years at the Marion County Fair. Carly Cummings is the treasurer for the Pleasantville FFA Alumni chapter, and Connor’s wife, Haley, is a preschool teacher who uses the farm to educate her students on the importance of farmers.