County News Archive

By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager





Earlier this spring, county farm bureaus across the state gathered their candidate evaluation committees and made recommendations to Michigan Farm Bureau’s AgriPAC committee who announced later this summer their Friends of Agriculture endorsement list to the public.

Since then, Michigan Farm Bureau has been the driving force behind the candidates they endorsed.

Most recently, Weir Farm in Hanover hosted Trump campaign advisor Lara Lea Trump, and Trump 2020 Senior Adviser Katrina Pierson bringing in farm bureau members and local residents to accept the Michigan Farm Bureau endorsement.

The rally drew in around 300 people including Hillsdale County Farm Bureau’s President, Kayla Lewis. “This was my first time attending a rally. It was a great experience to hear from the Trump Administration and many others who supported President Trump for a potential second term,” she said. “Lara Lee Trump spoke on what President Trump has done for us during his past four years and what he plans to do in his next four years, if elected.”

Michigan Farm Bureau’s President Bednarski joined them, emphasizing the long-term gains that have been achieved with the Trump Administration.

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau’s Vice-President Chris Brooks also shared insight on his experience. “President Trump demonstrates a lot of confidence and you could tell President Trump and his Administration are very passionate about agriculture. They really care about the backbone of America in the American farmers.” Chris was also interviewed by WILX News 10.

The message was clear. Election Day is right around the corner. Exercise your right to vote on November 3rd!

Weir Farm in Hanover hosted Trump campaign advisor Lara Lea Trump, and Trump 2020 Senior Adviser Katrina Pierson bringing in farm bureau members and local residents to accept the Michigan Farm Bureau endorsement.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager





Hillsdale County Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education (P&E) committee acted when the opportunity to provide free agriculture materials to local schools came available.

Michigan Foundation of Agriculture and the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau teamed up to provide “Farm Crates” to local second grade classrooms.

The Farm Crates included a themed children’s book, educator guide, lesson plan instructions & manipulatives, and an interactive student presentation.

Joe Draper, the P&E chair, is one of many members of the Hillsdale CFB’s Board of Directors that has been pushing forward with innovative ways to support local students when the traditional options remain at a standstill.

The Michigan Foundation for agriculture, a 501c3 formed by Michigan Farm Bureau, has a mission of positively contributing to the future of Michigan agriculture through leadership and educational programming. The foundation is the driving force behind the FARM Science Lab that was implemented to offer agriculture education to K-6th grade students.

Agriculture materials are available for purchase at the Michigan Ag in the Classroom Store.

The Promotion and Education committee is excited to be able to offer these materials to 2nd grade classrooms in Hillsdale County! Stay tuned for more information about our program by visiting our website or Facebook page.

Michigan Foundation of Agriculture and the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau teamed up to provide “Farm Crates” to local second grade classrooms.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

President Kayla Lewis



Vice President Chris Brooks


Third Member Ron Oates

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau held its annual meeting in August, followed by reorganization in September. Our new executive committee for 2020-21 includes:

  • President Kayla Lewis
  • Vice President Chris Brooks
  • Third Member Ron Oates

Kayla works on her husband’s family farm, Pleasant View Dairy, in Allen Township, a dairy and beef cattle operation. She and her husband Adam have two young children.

Kayla first joined the board as an at-large director in August 2018 and was elected vice president the following year. Since then she has volunteered to chair the county annual committee, present Ag in the Classroom lessons and has attended many state and local events, including the Young Farmer Leaders Conference, Washington Legislative Seminar, Lansing Legislative Seminar and the state annual meeting.

Kayla will be our second female county president and leads Hillsdale County Farm Bureau into its second century.

Chris is co-owner of Brooks Farms in Moscow Township: a corn, wheat, soybean, hay, cow-calf beef operation. Chris and his wife Leann have three young children.

He first joined the board in February 2019 as the District 6 Director representing Moscow, Somerset and Adams townships. Since then he has volunteered to present Ag in the Classroom lessons and represented our county at Lansing Legislative Seminar and plans to state annual meeting.

Ron is co-owner of R.W. Oates Farms in Wright Township, a three-generation wheat, alfalfa hay and soybean operation. Ron served as an at-large director from 2008 to 2015, and again in 2018, when he was first elected to the third-member position.

Ron has attended many state and local trainings over the past several years, including the Young Farmer Leaders Conference, Washington Legislative Seminar, Lansing Legislative Seminar and the state annual meeting.

While this year will still pose challenges for Farm Bureau activities, the county board of directors are eager to host members at trainings and events. Please check out our website at hillsdale.michfb.com or our Facebook page for more details!

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau held its annual meeting in August, followed by reorganization in September.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

A beautiful Saturday evening drew together numerous Hillsdale County Farm Bureau members for the 2020 annual meeting and centennial celebration! Our centennial committee spent the past year planning festivities to honor our organization’s accomplishments over the last 100 years.

Centennial chair Jay Williams and Kayla Lewis, our vice president and county annual chair, worked with many members to fine-tune the biggest event of our year!

While many of our 2020 activities were canceled due to the pandemic, COVID didn't stop Jay and Kayla from planning a safe, enjoyable celebration at the Hillsdale County fairgrounds outside Grange Hall. The past 100 years of Hillsdale County Farm Bureau's history was displayed for reminiscing and appreciation for all of the efforts of members before them who played a significant role in policy development, education and leadership.

Many generations of Farm Bureau members were present to share their stories and experiences from yesteryear.

The meeting began with proposed policy resolutions, which were approved for forwarding to the state policy development committee for consideration at the MFB Annual Meeting in December.

“100 years, 100 seasons, 100 county annual meetings!” Williams said as he opened the meeting with reflections on the past century. “Thousands of opportunities to build friendships, engage legislators, learn from and teach others about our business, help each other and support each other through good times and bad.

“We’ve progressed from traditional horsepower to today’s technology. In 1920, most of our farms had no electricity or indoor plumbing.”

In addition to setting its own policy agenda for the coming year, Hillsdale’s 2020 Annual Meeting was also a chance to recognize several outstanding individuals for their service to local agriculture.

District 2 Director Jennifer Lewis introduced our Farm Bureau Insurance agents and awarded Key Club to Mike Neely and Brent Leininger. She also recognized Hillsdale County Farm Bureau as a recipient of the Champions of Excellence Award for Involvement in District 2.

County President Stuart Welden announced our Young Farmer award winners: Abigail Stubbins for the Young Farmer Achievement Award and Andi Lee for the Young Farmer Agriculture Leader Award.

Membership Captain Allison Grimm recognized Terry Finegan as top volunteer membership writer for 2019-2020.

President Welden announced Megan LoPresto and Mia VanderHoff as the recipients of our $500 scholarships. The $250 scholarships went to Frances Chuchwell and Abigail Baxter. Our scholarships were sponsored by Waldron Grain, Channel, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Credenz Soybeans, Bennett Seed Inc. and Specialty Hybrids.

Vice President Kayla Lewis introduced several guests including Congressman Tim Walberg and Ben Kauffman from Senator Mike Shirkey’s office; both provided tributes recognizing Hillsdale’s centennial.

MFB President Carl Bednarski was also present to congratulate Hillsdale for its many accomplishments over the past 100 years.

Getting back to county Farm Bureau business, local farmers Amber Kohler of Somerset Township and Joe Ladd of Wright Township were elected to the county board of directors.

After the business meeting ended, the centennial festivities began!

Members had their portraits taken, providing them with mementos for attending the celebration. They also looked over our history, shared on several displays — including the past 100 years of Hillsdale County Farm Bureau presidents — before finally reaching the dinner line.

Our centennial committee also coordinated with WCSR to broadcast interviews with several Hillsdale members including Jay and Kelli Williams, Allison Grimm, Joe Draper, Terry Finegan, Adam Lewis, Chris Brooks, Stuart Welden and our guest from Tuscola County, MFB President Bednarski.

Live music was provided by Grant Reiff and The Monopoly Men.

The Hillsdale County Farm Bureau’s centennial celebration and annual meeting was supported by many local organizations.

Whole Hog Sponsors: American One Credit Union, Blain's Farm & Fleet, Brooks Farms, County National Bank, Dauer Farms, Farm Bureau Insurance, Greenmark Equipment, Greenstone Farm Credit Services, Hillsdale Dairy Promoters, Hudson Dairy, Jonesville Lumber, Michael Neely Agency, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Pleasant View Dairy & Beef, Powers Clothing, Southern Michigan Bank & Trust, The Caldwell Agency and The Leininger Agency

King Ranch Sponsors: Michigan Soybean Committee and Ransom Chicken Farm

Bin Buster Sponsors: Kaeb Sales Inc.

Milk Maid Sponsors: N.E.F.C.O. and R.W. Oates LLC

Our committees were pleased with the energy of this year's annual meeting, with generations of farm families, laughter and fellowship, all cherishing 100 years of accomplishments driving them into the future.

On behalf of the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau board of directors — and the centennial and annual meeting committees — we thank all who helped us celebrate our first 100 years.

Happy anniversary, Hillsdale — here's to another 100 years of sustainable and prosperous agriculture!

“100 years, 100 seasons, 100 county annual meetings!” Williams said as he opened the meeting with reflections on the past century.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

What keeps you awake at night?

That’s the burning question your policy development folks ask Farm Bureau members as they look to identify potential local, state or national-level policy recommendations.

Here in Hillsdale County, Policy Development Chair Denese Belson had to take a different approach this year thanks to COVID, meeting virtually with the county board this past spring. They felt strongly about supporting local health care, as the Hillsdale Community Health Center struggled to stay open as COVID restrictions prevented them from performing non-essential procedures.

After speaking with HCHC administrators, your county Farm Bureau’s leaders worked with Michigan Farm Bureau to develop a policy resolution in support of rural health care systems.

On July 28, policy development leaders from across District 2 (Hillsdale, Branch, Jackson, Calhoun and Lenawee) met to discuss their recommendations and collaborate on common ground. Each county Farm Bureau shared a topic or two they felt relevant to all.

Representing Hillsdale County were Denese Belson, Mark Geib, Mark Kline, Jay Williams, Stuart Welden, and Dick Storehalder.

Denese was pleased with the turnout from members including Stuart Welden, Jay Williams, Dick Storehalder, Mark Kline and Mark Geib who also helped in developing the proposed policies. Denese shared that she liked having the district meetings because it brings more ideas to consider.

Hillsdale CFB President, Stuart Welden said, “It was a good meeting and was really nice to have all of the counties present. The collaborative district meeting brought good perspectives that aren’t considered in your own county.” He shared that he felt this collaboration could almost be done quarterly and become a new approach to the policy development committees. There were a few policies that were presented by different counties on the same topic which demonstrated a true need for policy on the subject. Finally, he shared a thought from another county farm bureau member that, food labels should show was is in the product not what is not. Overall, President Welden felt the collaborative policy meeting was very productive and that there were great comments and feedback from the group.

Next the committee will present their recommendations to the county board. Once approved, the proposed policies will go before all regular members attending our annual meeting, Saturday, August 29th at 4:30pm at the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds. State and national-level policies are then presented to delegates at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2020 Annual Meeting, scheduled for Dec. 1-3 in Grand Rapids.

Once all levels of policies are approved, action can begin!

While most local policy development work happens in the spring, ideas are welcomed year-round. To suggest an issue of concern, contact the county Farm Bureau office at 517-437-2458.

What keeps you awake at night? Here in Hillsdale County, Policy Development Chair Denese Belson had to take a different approach this year thanks to COVID, meeting virtually with the county board this past spring.
By Allison Grimm, Hillsdale CFB Membership Captain

In partnership with the local soil and water office, the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau hosted a scrap tire recycling event for their regular and associate members on Wednesday, June 24 at the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds. Over 25,000 scrap tires were collected for proper disposal over the course of three days, including car and truck passenger, semi, and tractor tires.

The Hillsdale County Farm Bureau has supported the biennial tire recycling event since the first one held in 2012. The 2020 event was the first year HCFB offered a free “member only” day, allowing both regular and associate members to drop off used tires and/or electronics for proper disposal and recycling.

HCFB board members, committee chairs, and regular members volunteered time and equipment for the week to assist in loading.

The tires are recycled by Cobalt Rubber in Sturgis, MI where they are sorted, cleaned, and shredded to produce mulch, materials for roadways and/or septic systems and more!

We would like to thank all of our members for their generosity and time to help make this membership event a success!

Funding for this project was made possible by a grant through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the Hillsdale County Soil and Water Conservation District.

You can find out more about EGLE’s scrap Tire Recycling program at www.michigan.gov. For more recycling events or farm field days, follow the Hillsdale Conservation District on Facebook or visit www.hillsdalecd.org. To learn more or become a member of Hillsdale County Farm Bureau visit us online hillsdale.michfb.com.

In partnership with the local soil and water office, the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau hosted a scrap tire recycling event for their regular and associate members on Wednesday, June 24 at the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager



Lindsay Meckley with a Local Bushel, packed with farm-fresh food products from her family’s farm and others across the region.

A well-established destination farm in southern Michigan has come up with an innovative way to not only stay in touch with its COVID-confined clientele, but help other nearby consumer-facing farm businesses in the process. 

 

Begun in 1956 a simple apple orchard, Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farm has expanded its offerings to become a popular regional attraction, offering diverse food, beverages and entertainment choices.

 

Even so, the current generations of Meckleys knew they had to get creative to prevent a dangerous COVID-induced slow-down at the 70-acre operation in northeastern Hillsdale County.

 

Second-generation owners and Hillsdale County Farm Bureau members Steve and Adrienne Meckley run the show, but their children Lindsay and Nicholas are proving vital to the business’ adaptation to hard times.

 

“I had been exploring the idea of participating in local farmers markets, but with recent events creating closures or slowing down other small businesses in the area, we decided to figure out how to do it here,” Lindsay said.

 

Rather than having consumers make several stops at local farms to pick up their products, Meckley’s brought the goods to the consumers as a one-stop-shop. They call it The Local Bushel, a collaborative effort of area farm businesses aimed at providing customers with locally sourced edibles from several nearby producers:

  • Farm-raised, natural beef, Ridge Bollheimer (Clarklake)
  • Washington Gourmet Cheesecakes (Southfield)
  • Catering to the Max, Dinners on the Go (Horton)
  • Lowry’s Little Flock Farms (Horton)
  • Cambridge Cheese Company (Onsted)
  • Becks Greenhouse (Jackson)

 

Other local products on offer include honey, fresh eggs, Amish candies, maple syrup, artisanal bread and homemade jams and jellies.

 

“We had 50 Local Bushels available for purchase on April 18 and they sold out within 30-45 minutes,” Lindsay said. “That inspired us to continue, so the next Local Bushel will be available on May 8 with a limit of 150.”

 

Lindsay said they already have more than that many orders — and more area businesses reaching out, wanting to participate.

 

Despite the challenges theirs and other businesses are facing, the Meckley hopes to continue offering Local Bushels bi-weekly through this season. 

 

“I’m excited and grateful that we’re all there for each other during this time,” said Lindsay. 

Meckley’s has a devoted customer base that comes from far and wide for their donuts, cider, fresh fruits, farm-brewed beers and other temptations. Most of their products are grown and packaged right there on the farm. 

 

The operation just moved toward opening year-round this past year. Normally the peak season is autumn, followed by a winter shut-down. But with recent additions, including a brewery, they’re now open most of the year. 

 

In the cider mill, the smell of apples fills the air, from fresh apples, cider, and pies. At the height of the season, the line for donuts often pours out the entrance. 

 

Above the bakery is the brewery, with a comfortable seating area where friends and family can enjoy a meal and freshly brewed beer. Some Saturday evenings feature local bands for entertainment!

 

Dial in Meckley’s Facebook page or website for more detail about Local Bushels and other news from their farm. There’s even some fun videos of Steve giving apple trees haircuts and making those delicious donuts!

A popular Hillsdale County destination farm is partnering with similar operations nearby to offer customers brimming bushels of farm-fresh regional delicacies.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

White House Briefing with Michigan Farm Bureau Members 3/11/2020


Kayla & Adam Lewis



Senator Debbie Stabenow


Senator Gary Peters

Michigan farmers across the state, including Board of Director Kayla Lewis and her husband Adam, traveled to the Washington Legislative Seminar, March 9-12, in the nation’s capital.

Members who arrived the day prior were given the opportunity to take a tour of the Capitol Building or take a trolley to see the Monuments by Moonlight.

Tuesday morning the members gathered at registration before entering the L’Enfant Ballroom at the Hilton National Mall to hear a welcome from President Bednarski and Issue Overview with AFBF Staff, Allison Crittenden on agricultural labor, RJ Karney on Broadband and rural mental health, Veronica Nigh on Trade, and Pat Wolff on Taxes.

In the afternoon, members attended one of three issue tracks they pre-registered for The issue track on “trade” highlighted how we can achieve and expand trade opportunities for U.S. agriculture, with the European Union and other partners and how we can continue to advocate for increased market opportunities with current trading partners and opening doors with new partners. The Trade track visited the Delegation of European Unions and hear from Mr. Owen Jones, who serves as the Minister Counselor for the Trade and Ag Section of the EU.  The issue track on “immigration & agriculture labor” highlighted enacting legislation to help farmers meet their labor needs, this track went to the U.S. Senate Russell building and heard from Chris Schulte, D.C. Immigration expert, and Allison Crittenden, Immigration Lobbyist with AFBF. The issue track on “rural life” highlighted how to achieve policies that promote greater access to broadband in rural areas, address mental health challenges, and improve critical infrastructure, this track went downtown to the National Association of Counties to hear from their experts on broadband and mental health in rural communities.

That evening, members were able to visit D.C. and join in on optional networking opportunities at select restaurants.

Wednesday began with breakfast followed by a briefing with White House Staff at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House with Kelly Ann Conway, who spoke regarding her experience growing up on a blueberry operation and addressed COVID-19, other speakers included USDA Under Secretary Bill Northe and EPA’s Assistant Administrator of the Office of Water Dave Ross. After lunch, members attended a multi-state reception and heard from members of the U.S. House and Staff.

After the briefing members went to Capitol Hill for meetings with their member of Congress’s office. Followed by a reception where 500 members from 5 state Farm Bureau came together at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. States present were Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Ohio.

“I think the coolest part, besides doing the capitol tours and around D.C., was the briefing from the White House staff at one of the White House buildings. We met with Kelly Ann Conway the EPA, USDA, and trade. Then we got to exit out the side and take pics with the house right behind us. Also we met with congressman Walberg and our district had a chance to sit in his office and discuss the hot topics with him!” said Kayla Lewis, first time attendee along with her husband Adam.

The event concluded with a breakfast where members heard from U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.

Michigan farmers across the state, including Board of Director Kayla Lewis and her husband Adam, traveled to the Washington Legislative Seminar, March 9-12, in the nation’s capital.
By Jay Williams, Hillsdale CFB Centennial Committee Chair


Watch for more information this summer on how to purchase a one-of-a kind Hillsdale CFB Centennial T-shirt!



Hillsdale County Farm Bureau celebrates its centennial in 2020.  100 years of challenges, successes, trials and growth, all brought about by member involvement.  Our organization was created when our industry was on the cusp of a revolution that would take farming from a manual industry utilizing man and animal power, to one today that utilizes satellite guidance for modern machines and precision applied science to guide our decision.  Despite the production differences, there are many similarities between 1920’s agriculture and that of 2020 including oversupply, depressed revenues from devalued crops, and farm financial stress.  The 1920’s were the beginning of the reduction in the demand for farm laborers and marked the transition for many rural families to city life.  In the midst of those trying times, leaders in the agricultural industry saw a need to unify in response to challenges faced, including property taxation (to pay for roads) which was a founding issue for Michigan Farm Bureau.  Farm Bureau successfully lobbied to have the tax burden placed on fuel purchases instead of land.  Throughout the last century, Farm Bureau has utilized the voices of its farmer members for not only lobbying on issues involving farmers and rural communities but has also grown to develop leaders, educate the public on agriculture, train young people in our industry,  and build relationships and friendships among its members.  Farm Bureau has a diverse base with members representing farm business of all sizes and types, ranging from part-time and beginning farmers to multi-generational farms, from roadside stand and direct market producers to commercial producers serving large distributers, elevators and chain customers.  It’s this diversity, with the common thread of seeking to support a strong agriculture industry for farms of all shapes and sizes that runs from the early beginnings in the 1920’s to today and into the next 100 years of change, challenge and success. 

Hillsdale CFB members and special guests will be celebrating our accomplishments, memories, and successes on Saturday, August 29, 2020. This celebratory party will include a live band for dancing and fun! Learn more about Hillsdale County Farm Bureau by visiting our website at hillsdale.michfb.com or liking us on Facebook. Here’s to another 100 years!

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau celebrates its centennial in 2020. 100 years of challenges, successes, trials and growth, all brought about by member involvement.
By Allison Grimm, Hillsdale CFB Membership Captain




 

Hillsdale Conservation District to Host Tire Recycling
Member Benefit for Hillsdale CFB Members on June 24

 

Michiganders in many communities statewide will have a convenient way to dispose of their scrap tires this summer, including Hillsdale County residents and landowners! In October, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced over 1.2 million dollars in grant funding to assist with community scrap tire recycling events and other tire cleanups across the state of Michigan. The Hillsdale Conservation District received $50,000 in grant funds, among the highest in the state. In addition to this EGLE grant, the Hillsdale Conservation District has partnered with the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau to host a free tire recycling event for Hillsdale County residents, landowners, and farmers in 2020.


This free community recycling event will provide an affordable and convenient opportunity to properly dispose of and recycle tires, reducing the potential risks associated with piled tires such as fire hazards and breeding ground for mosquitos. Recycled tires can be used in asphalt to pave roads, as mulch in gardens and playgrounds, and in manufacturing.

This free service will be held on the infield of the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds from 8:00am to 7:00pm on Thursday, June 25th and Friday, June 26th, 2020, and is available for Hillsdale County residents and landowners only.

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau members will also have the opportunity to bring tires on Wednesday, June 24th between 1:00pm and 6:00pm as a special member benefit. All Hillsdale County residents and Hillsdale County Farm Bureau members are required to register with the Hillsdale Conservation District, providing information including their name, address, township, phone number, and number of tires. Registration will be taken May 4th through June 19th, 2020 and can be made by calling the office at (517) 849-9890 Ext. 3 or by emailing
[email protected].


Residents are encouraged to join the Hillsdale Conservation District’s mailing list for updates on additional events and services offered by the District throughout the year. Follow us on Facebook and visit us online at
www.hillsdalecd.org.


For more information about EGLE’s scrap tire program or a list of participating recycling locations near you, visit
www.michigan.gov/scraptires.

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau members will also have the opportunity to bring tires on Wednesday, June 24th between 1:00pm and 6:00pm as a special member benefit.
By Allison Grimm, HCFB Membership Captain

Back row left to right: Jamie, Kyle, Logan, Jason, Chelsea, Corbin, William, Cheryl & Scott; Front: Lucas, Lilli, & Casey
Front Right: Tom


Scott Kolasa at a local farm market with fresh fruit and produce supplied by K’s Acres.



Scott evaluating blossoms on fruit trees in the orchard.

K’s Acres Fruit and Berry Farm located near North Sand Lake in Hillsdale, Michigan is owned by Tom Kolasa, and has been passed down through his family for multiple generations.  K’s Acres offers a wide variety of fruit including apples, pears, plums, peaches, and berries, but has not always been a fruit farm. Tom’s grandparents, Walter and Stephanie Eminowicz, originally owned the 160-acre farm, raising standard row crops including alfalfa, corn, and other grains in addition to livestock. In the 1960’s Tom’s grandparents quit farming, and later his mom, Clara Kolasa, took over the farm. After being out of production for several years, the farmland grew up to forestland and was no longer manageable for commercial grain farming.

Tom took over the family farm in 2000, moving here from Detroit area where he grew up. “We were just city slickers moving back trying to learn how to farm,” he said. Through several educational programs and classes and the assistance of MSU Extension agents, Tom decided to raise specialty crops to make a more profitable farm with less acreage. MSU Apple School and the Restricted Use Pesticide program are just two of the helpful classes and certifications Tom has acquired over the years. He also mentioned learning a lot from Mark Longstroth, Bill Shane, and Eric Hanson at MSU Berry research. Tom says, “We had limited education and educators here in our area on growing crops that are typically grown on the West side of the state, so it was a lot of learning, and trial an error.”

Tom started his fruit endeavor in 2002 by growing Raspberries and Strawberries in the field, as well as a greenhouse to start vegetable flats, flowers, and hanging baskets. Tom continued to expand the variety of fruit grown on the farm through the mid 2000’s by implementing orchard fruit to offer a longer growing season. In 2006, Tom planted two varieties of Peaches, Flaming Fury, a Michigan bred variety, and Stellar, providing him peaches for 16 weeks of the season. From there Tom continued growing his orchard with Apples, Plums, and Pears, and added Blueberries in 2010. Tom continued to grow K’s Acres, with a dream to grow even more, but these dreams slowed in 2012 when Tom faced medial issues including poor circulation, which required amputations of his legs, limiting his ability to work.

Tom learned about Michigan AgrAbility, a joint project of Easterseals Michigan, Michigan State University Extension, and Michigan Farm Bureau, with funding provided by USDA grants and donations from supporting sponsors. Michigan AgrAbility headed by Ned Stoller helps farmers adjust to disabling conditions so they can keep working and the farm can keep producing by helping farmers identify ways they can continue farming by making modifications to equipment, facilities, and daily tasks. With the help of Michigan AgrAbility and the USDA NRCS, Tom was able to build a 31’ by 96’ hoop house in 2012. He started substrate growing and planted multiple varieties of strawberries including everbearing varieties as well as “Redstart” and “Wasatch” specialties bred by MSU. Tom was able to expand his production area again in 2018 with a second 31’ by 96’ hoop house with the assistance of USDA NRCS, which is used solely for early and late Raspberry production, along with their 20 different varieties of field grown Red, Black, and Yellow raspberries.

Today, K’s Acres is a whole family operation, with Tom focusing on the management of the farm, paperwork, placing orders, and taking phone calls. “I go out and help package when I get tired of paperwork” he says. Tom’s son Scott and his daughter Chelsea are the “do-all” operators for the farm. Their duties include planting, harvesting, pruning, pest management, washing, sorting, and packaging. Scott and his wife Cheryl also attend farm markets throughout the week to sell K’s Acres Products. Scott’s son Kyle, and his wife Jamie, also help during farm market season; familiar faces at the Hillsdale County Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. In addition to the family, Tom also hires a few local high school kids during the summer for harvest season, picking and packaging.

In order to keep the farm sustainable throughout the year, Tom is always adding diversity which offers a longer growing season for customers. K’s Acres currently offers over 80 varieties of Apples, including several Midwest heritage varieties, (some Tom has even had custom grafted from New York), 25 varieties of Plums including the famous “Bubble Gum Plum”, Pears, and of course Peaches. In addition to the fruit, they also offer a limited selection of vegetables including cherry tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, hanging baskets, Monarch Butterfly attracting plants, and vegetable, herb and flower flats. Seasonal items include seasonally harvested maple syrup, honey, fresh pressed apple cider, and donuts. Tom also leases a portion of the farm to deer hunters during season which helps regulate deer damage in the orchard. Tom manages the 130 acres of forest land for timber harvest and plans to have a forest management plan for the farm in the near future.

Tom pursued the MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) back in 2016, and the farm became MAEAP verified in the Greenhouse, Cropping, and Farmstead systems in 2020. Tom says, “It’s a good program, it keeps us conscious of the environment and helps us to be sustainable; most of all it helps with promotion of our farm.”

K’s Acres products can be purchased at five different markets May through October including Albion, Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Coldwater, and Hillsdale. Customers can also stop by the on-farm market located at 4680 Fitzpatrick Rd. Hillsdale, MI daily between 10:00am and 5:00pm throughout the growing season. For more information on K’s Acres Fruit and Berry Farm, follow them on Facebook or stop by for a visit!

K’s Acres Fruit and Berry Farm located near North Sand Lake in Hillsdale, Michigan is owned by Tom Kolasa, and has been passed down through his family for multiple generations.
By Allison Grimm, HCFB Membership Captain

Entirely grass-fed, Kellie’s herd is fed hay in the parlor at each milking to increase dry matter intake.


Pictured: Kellie Benzing

/


Pictured (left to right): Paul Pridgeon-State YF, Kellie Benzing-YF Award Recipient, Drew Godfrey-YF Chair (9/2019) 

Kellie Benzing is twenty-seven years old, and she built and operates Weathered Silos Farm in Hanover, Michigan.

Kellie wanted to be a farmer for as long as she can remember. She started milking cows at 13 and spent three years after college working for an organic dairy farm in Jonesville to gain experience while growing a starter herd of heifers. In addition, she spent several years employed in digital and catalog marketing while building Weathered Silos Farm on the side as her passion project. She is now living out her dream farming full-time with her husband, James.

Kellie currently has twenty cows and heifers of mixed grazing genetics. Her herd consists of cross-bred American Holstein, New Zealand Jersey, Fleckvieh, and Montbéliarde cattle, with A2 replacement heifers. Every heifer raised on the farm nurses from her mother for 10 months. In 2018, Kellie transitioned her cattle to grass only, and began offering herd shares. The cows are entirely grass-fed currently apart from organic mineral supplements. In 2019, Weathered Silos Farm was verified by the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program to help prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks. Kellie loves building relationships with herd share owners and sharing the farm with the community.

Each year at their Annual Meeting, the Hillsdale CFB Young Farmer Committee honors local producers for their achievements and contributions to local agriculture.  There are four categories: Young Farmer Achievement, Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture, Young Agriculture Leader, and Young Agriculture Employee.  Each of the award recipients receives a gift, their first year of membership payment waived, and first selection to attend the Young Farmer Leaders Conference in February. Kellie was awarded the Young Farmer Achievement Award, honoring a successful young agriculturalist or couple, deriving most of his/her income from an owned production agriculture enterprise, for outstanding achievement in the business of farming and leadership in the agricultural community. 

Hard work, intelligent planning, and development of management and leadership skills lead to success in the business of farming. Success needs to be recognized. Recognizing successful young farmers not only pays tribute to the individuals, it also draws attention to the entire field of farming and brings the importance of agriculture into focus.

Weathered Silos Farm offers a herd share program that serves southern mid-Michigan, including Jackson and Hillsdale counties. What is a herd share? Raw milk may not legally be sold or purchased in the state of Michigan, so to enjoy unpasteurized raw milk you must own the animal being milked, or a share of a herd of cows. Herd share owners pay Kellie a fee for boarding, tending, and milking the cows. The herd share owners then obtain the raw milk from his or her share. The highest priority is given to milk quality and safety, and the milk is lab-tested monthly for potentially harmful foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, listeria, and salmonella. The cattle herd has also tested negative for both tuberculosis and brucellosis.

The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund legally represents Weathered Silos Farm. 

You can learn more about Weathered Silos Farm and their herd share program at www.weatheredsilosfarm.com or check out their Facebook page, Weathered Silos Farm, LLC!

 

Kellie Benzing is twenty-seven years old, and she built and operates Weathered Silos Farm in Hanover, Michigan. Kellie wanted to be a farmer for as long as she can remember.
By Allison Grimm, HCFB Membership Captain

Andie and her Hillsdale County 4-H Market Gilt (2018)


Erez Brandvain (MAEAP TECH), Stacey Rocklin (Advisor), Johnathan Tharp (2019 Vice President), Hannah Gibson, Andie Lee (2019 President), Cameron Victor (2019 Secretary), and Cade Krieger pictured in front of the campus greenhouse on their MAEAP Verification day (2019)


Cade Krieger (2020 Treasurer), Andie Lee, and Stacey Rocklin (Advisor) pictured at the “Thanks-4-Giving” community service project (2019)

The Hillsdale County Farm Bureau would like to welcome Ms. Andrea Lee to the board of directors as the Young Farmer Chair. Andrea (Andie) is from Hudson, MI and was a member of the High on Drafts 4-H club in 2004-2019, showing pigs, rabbits, draft horses, chickens, floral arrangements, and demonstrations at the Hillsdale County Fair.

A graduate of Hudson High School, Andie was a Lenawee Tech Center FFA member, helping with Project RED (Rural Education Day) throughout Lenawee County. She now attends both MSU and Southwestern Michigan College, earning a degree in Agribusiness and another in Agricultural Operations. Andie loves to advocate for agriculture and was also recently crowned Miss Agriculture USA 2020. Through Miss Agriculture USA, Andie learned how to become a true advocate for agriculture, presenting and speaking about her personal agriculture experiences at events and providing a positive and truthful social media platform. Requirements for Miss Agriculture USA include sponsorships for national competition, an agriculture background, and a passion for agriculture everywhere!

Andie is currently employed with the Berrien County MSU Extension as the 4-H Assistant where she leads several classrooms in agriculture and career exploration. Mentored by her colleague from the state Career Exploration Workforce Preparation (CWEP) staff, Andie can go into schools, colleges, and county fairs to explore career and workforce opportunities. Through these opportunities, Andie has formed great partnerships with Berrien County Schools, teaching AG and STEM Lessons. Her favorite of these classes includes the Embryology course, where classrooms raise chicks from hatching eggs, learning the complete farm-to-table process. Andie says, “it’s always cool when the kids learn where their food comes from, and that the people who raise their food are awesome too!”

Andie is also a member of her Collegiate Farm Bureau through MSU/Southwestern Michigan College, working the booth at their annual Collegiate Farm Bureau recruitment event during welcome week.  Through a partnership with the Berrien County 4-H and Farm Bureau, Andie assisted with “Thanks-4-Giving”, providing fresh lettuce and Thanksgiving meals to over 100 families.

Upon becoming the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau Young Farmer Chair, Andie volunteered for Ag in the Classroom at Gier Elementary, teaching kindergartens about agriculture products grown in Michigan, and where their food comes from. Andie is looking forward to joining Hillsdale County Farm Bureau, working with Promotion and Education, as well as the upcoming District Young Farmer Discussion Meet. Welcome to Hillsdale County Farm Bureau, Andie!

Welcome to Ms. Andrea Lee to the board of directors as the Young Farmer Chair. Andrea (Andie) is from Hudson, MI and was a member of the High on Drafts 4-H club in 2004-2019, showing pigs, rabbits, draft horses, chickens, floral arrangements, and dem
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

Pictured: Joe & Erin Ladd with their two children.


Pictured: Jay Williams and his son, Sam



March 11, 2020 – Two Hillsdale County Families traveled to Lansing for the annual Ag Day at the Capitol event. This event, hosted by Michigan Farm Bureau with support from Michigan commodity organizations, is held each year to celebrate and recognize the contribution of Michigan's food and agriculture industry.

“Visiting with legislators including Representative Leutheuser and seeing that everyday people can connect with those making decisions for all of us”, said Sam Williams, representing his local FFA chapter, family farm and local county farm bureau. Sam’s father, Jay Williams said “for me, it's always how well received we (agriculture community) are by legislators from around the state, regardless of their background.  Agriculture is an industry that can connect us.”

The day’s agenda included:
8:30 a.m. Briefing for basket delivery participants
Location: Capitol Building, Room 405
9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Basket deliver to House, Senate and executive offices
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Exhibits open on the first floor of the Capitol
2:00 p.m. – Members are encouraged to visit their respective legislators as time permits


This year marks the 15th year of Ag Day at the Capitol event, an event designed to raise the industry’s profile with state lawmakers. Farm Bureau members across the state are encouraged to attend where farm bureau members deliver baskets filled with agriculture related items to their local legislators followed by joining them for lunch.

Erin and Joe Ladd were joined by their two young children Layne & Hayden. Joe said “Layne liked handing out baskets and Hayden liked learning what products were grown in Michigan. He, on the other hand, enjoyed the taste of Michigan.” Erin said, “She enjoyed visiting with other farmers FB staff and legislators.”

If you are interested in participating next year, please contact the Hillsdale CFB office 517-437-2458 or [email protected]

                                       

Two Hillsdale County Families traveled to Lansing for the annual Ag Day at the Capitol event. This event, hosted by Michigan Farm Bureau with support from Michigan commodity organizations, is held each year to celebrate and recognize the contribution
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

Front Row (left to right): Alyssa Brown, Jennifer Lewis, Mark Kies, Mark Kline
Back Row (left to right): Chris Brooks, Scott Brown, Ron Oates, Mark Geib, Bruce Lewis

Michigan Farm Bureau’s Lansing Legislative Seminar provides an opportunity for approximately 475 members passionate about Farm Bureau policy and issues affecting agriculture to meet members with shared interests, concerns and goals. This event helps demonstrate to legislative and regulatory leaders the significance of our member-developed policy and strength of our county Farm Bureaus across the state. Members have an opportunity to learn from expert speakers about proposals being considered in Lansing that would impact Michigan farmers and the food and agriculture industry.

Representing Hillsdale CFB this year were Mark Kies, Mark Geib, Bruce Lewis, Mark Kline, Alyssa Brown, Scott Brown, Ron Oates, and Chris Brooks.

“This was my first time attending this event and the most impactful part of the seminar was meeting Vice President Mike Pence. I also attended the Advocacy seminar and realized just how important my voice if for the agriculture community,” said Alyssa Brown. “It has inspired me to continue to learn more and be more involved.”

The event began with optional tours of the Capitol followed by the AgriPAC fundraiser with featured speaker Patrick Haggerty, a Washington Veteran of politics, talked about the importance of elections in America.

During lunch, members engaged in the Michigan Legislature Quadrant Leadership Panel. MFB President Carl Bednarski said “January 2020 is one for the history book for American Agriculture. We waited a long time and we had a tough year in 2019, but we’re finally seeing the fruits of these efforts.” He then introduced Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue who gave a phenomenal opening to introducing Vice President Mike Pence. Pence shared a very encouraging and strong message about the support of Agriculture from President Trump. “We’re going to stand strong with the American farmer. And we’ll always hone or what you do, we both get it,” said Pence.

Ron Oates shared “It was great to see Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue and Vice President Mike Pence mingle with the crowd; I even shook his hand.” Mark Kline also attended and was pleased with the speeches and “believed he (Pence) meant what he said.”

After lunch, members selected from a variety of sessions including funding, water issues, advocating and the 2020 election.

Chris Brooks also attended the seminar for the first time. “I agree that the most impactful part of the seminar was meeting Vice President Mike Pence and hearing him say that the key to a strong nation is strong farmers. The importance of agricultural education within the school system was a valuable take away as well.”

The event wrapped up with the Legislative Reception that provided farm bureau members an opportunity to talk with their legislators.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s Lansing Legislative Seminar provides an opportunity for approximately 475 members passionate about Farm Bureau policy and issues affecting agriculture to meet members with shared interests, concerns and goals.

 


Across the country, county and state Farm Bureaus are making safety a priority through the Agricultural Safety Awareness Program. As part of ASAP, March 1-7 has been designated as Agricultural Safety Awareness Week. U.S. Agricultural Safety and Health Centers will join Farm Bureau in promoting the week with its theme “20:20 Vision on Ag Safety.”

A different safety focus will be highlighted by Hillsdale County Farm Bureau and U.S. Ag Centers each day of the week:

  • Monday, March 2 – Mental Health
  • Tuesday, March 3 – Transportation Safety
  • Wednesday, March 4 – Weather Disasters
  • Thursday, March 5 – Confined Spaces
  • Friday, March 6 – Farmer Wellness

During this week and throughout the year, Farm Bureau is encouraging farmers to make safety a priority on the farm.

Agricultural safety is critically important on America’s farms and ranches. By investing in safety and health in agricultural communities, we’re able to help save lives and resources through the prevention of injuries and lost time on the job

The Agricultural Safety Awareness Program is a part of the Farm Bureau Health and Safety Network of professionals who share an interest in identifying and decreasing safety and health risks. For more information and resources, visit the ASAP Facebook page.

Visit the Centers’ YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/USagCenters) for new content and fresh ideas about how to stay safe while working in agriculture, forestry and fishing. Join the movement to keep farms safe and share your own safety messages on social media using the hashtags #KeepFarmsSafe, #AAP20 and #USAgCenters.

The 11 U.S. Agricultural Safety and Health Centers (www.cdc.gov/niosh/oep/agctrhom.html) are funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Across the country, county and state Farm Bureaus are making safety a priority through the Agricultural Safety Awareness Program. As part of ASAP, March 1-7 has been designated as Agricultural Safety Awareness Week. U.S. Agricultural Safety and Healt
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager
Top: (left to right): Carson Evans, Jesse Rice, Adam Dauer, and Ty Finegan

Bottom: State YF Paul Pridgeon, HCFB members-Adam Dauer, Ty Finegan, Carson Evans, and Jesse Rice

A group of four Young Farmers from Hillsdale Farm Bureau was among several members from across the state who gathered at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2020 Young Farmer Leadership Conference, February 21-23 in Acme, MI.

Representing Hillsdale CFB this year were Adam Dauer, Ty Finegan, Jesse Rice, and Carson Evans.

The annual event offers producers ages 18 to 35 a combination of leadership development, informative workshops and idea exchanges, all with an eye toward building a strong new generation of agricultural producers to lead Michigan agriculture into the future.

“What I liked about this conference is that it wasn't like most other leadership conferences I have been to. It was pretty relaxed, there was plenty of time between sessions, multiple sessions to choose from, and a lot of time to socialize and meet new people,” said Jesse Rice about the weekend conference. “Plus, the sessions didn't focus on working in a group. A lot of them were about having a healthier, less stressful state of mind.”

Centering on the theme “F.U.N.,” the seminars and workshops at this year’s conference encouraged Young Farmers to gravitate towards things that give you strength. Some of the topics included checking in on social media, communication with the non-ag community, and building strong farm family relationships. State and national-level Farm Bureau staff briefed attendees about leadership development opportunities and the importance of grass-roots involvement in the legislative process.

Keynote speaker Paul Long, speaker/author/educator, shared his philosophy of FUNdamism, connecting to life though F.U.N.! Paul believes strongly that gravitating more towards the things that give you strength, as opposed to the things that don’t will provide you more FUN, joy and fulfillment in life.

Young Farmers were able to choose from three tour options including Wine, Brew & Value; Trust the Process; and When Nature Calls. They also had an opportunity to select from optional workshops that included Connecting the Workplace and Life through F.U.N., Mapping out a Plan to keep your Farm in the Family for Future Generations, and Economic Challenges-Financial Opportunities. Saturday evening brought dinner and experiencing Traverse City from a cornhole tournament to painting to visiting the Turtle Creek Casino.

And we cannot forget, $5,700 was raised to support the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture which provides leadership development, education and agricultural literacy across the state! What an amazing team of Young Farmers!

Adam Dauer shared that his take away from the conference was “the session about recognizing the signs of suicide.  It's not something anyone really wants to talk about but it is definitely an important topic.  I learned that the suicide rate in agriculture is five times higher than the national average, twice as much as the rate of military veterans and has the highest suicide rate of any occupation. It was good to learn how we can help others and learn how to see the warning signs.” Adam and Jesse both serve on the Hillsdale CFB Board of Directors.

Farm Bureau members ages 18 to 35 are eligible to participate in the organization’s Young Farmer program. For more information about local Young Farmer activities, contact Andie Lee at 517-252-1514 or [email protected].

A group of four Young Farmers from Hillsdale Farm Bureau was among several members from across the state who gathered at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2020 Young Farmer Leadership Conference, February 21-23 in Acme, MI.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

During Agricultural Safety Awareness Week (March 1-7), Hillsdale County Farm Bureau encourages everyone to end the stigma around mental health. Recent studies have shown stress and depressive symptoms are prevalent in the agricultural community, with as many as 35% of farmers and ranchers experiencing symptoms of depression. Data also suggests that the rate of suicide among farmers and ranchers is higher than that of the general population. However, most mental health conditions are treatable and early involvement by friends and family can lead to recovery.

Recovery starts with conversation, and discussions about mental health don’t have to be tricky. Starting a conversation by simply asking “How are you doing today?” or “How have you been feeling lately?” could be the invitation a loved one has been waiting for.

Once you have opened a dialogue, be ready to listen and offer support. Withhold judgement and try to avoid making the conversation about yourself. Be prepared to offer resources, such as a referral to a primary care physician or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255 (TALK)).

An important step in reducing the stigma around mental health conditions is to know the signs of a mental health crisis, particularly in the rural community (adapted from Robin Tutor-Marcom, North Carolina Agromedicine Institute).

• Decline in care of crops, animals or farm

• Increasing life insurance

• Increase in farm accidents

• Giving away prized possessions, calling or saying goodbye

• Increase in physical complaints or difficulty sleeping

• Feeling trapped or like there is “no way out”

• Making statements such as “I have nothing to live for,” or “My family would be better off without me; I don’t want to be a burden.”

No one is ever too young or old to struggle with the impact of stress and mental health issues, and no one has to endure the struggle alone. Nearly 1 in 3 rural Americans reports having sought out care for a mental health condition. Times are tough in rural America, but if the agricultural community comes together to have the hard conversations about things that might make us uncomfortable, we can end the stigma around mental health.

 

Sincerely,

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau

During Agricultural Safety Awareness Week (March 1-7), Hillsdale County Farm Bureau encourages everyone to end the stigma around mental health.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

Pictured left to right: Andrea Lee (Young Farmer Chair) and Allison Grimm (Membership Captain)

Members across the state traveled to Port Huron earlier this month for the Voice of Agriculture Conference to learn new tools for connecting with consumers via social media, direct outreach, school-based events or news media.

“The Voice of Ag Conference was phenomenal! I really enjoyed the tours on the first day. I visited Lauwers Sheep Farm, Theisen Greenhouse, and Blake’s Orchard/Blake’s Hard Cider Company. All of the facilities were fascinating to learn about and share ideas with”, said Collegiate Farm Bureau Member, Andrea Lee, who attended the conference for the first time.

The first day gave members the opportunity to go to one of two tours: Planes, Trains and Automobiles or Lamb, Libations and Landscaping. Lambs, Libations and Landscaping.

Members who registered for the Planes, Trains and Automobiles Tour met with U.S. Customs and Border Protection staff to learn how agricultural goods are imported by vehicle, train, boat or plane at this port of entry; toured the Blue Water Bridge customs plaza and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s veterinary check point; heard from the lead veterinarian at the site to learn how they working to mitigate biohazards through animal import inspections; and stopped at the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, the first lighthouse in Michigan, before heading to dinner at either The Cadillac House or Marine City Fish Company. “

Members who registered for the Lamb, Libations and Landscaping visited Lauwers Sheep Farm, one of the largest flocks of ewes raised indoors in the state; learned how the farm staggers lambing to provide a consistent supply of lamb year around; visited landscaping plans at Theisen’s Greenhouse in Memphis where this wholesale greenhouse has been supplying bedding plants, hanging baskets and annual containers to retailers in the metro Detroit area for more than 60 years before wrapping up the day with a cold glass of hard cider from tree to tank to at Blake’s Orchard and Hard Cider.

The second day began with district meetings and was packed full of various topics members could choose from such as health, building partnerships, agritourism, state updates, and consumer viewpoints. “Struggling for committed volunteers for events, etc and participation is relevant across the state”, said Allison Grimm, HCFB Membership Captain. The speakers, who understand the challenges of working in agriculture, met with farm bureau members across the state to share ideas to support county programming before calling it a day.

“The second day was also amazing; I attended the breakfast program with keynote speaker Michelle Miller, aka “Farm Babe”. She gave us insight on social media posting and how much farther we can reach consumers as an industry and positively promote agriculture”, said Andrea Lee.

Members across the state traveled to Port Huron earlier this month for the Voice of Agriculture Conference to learn new tools for connecting with consumers via social media, direct outreach, school-based events or news media.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

Ag Lesson #2: Counting Seeds

­­Hillsdale County members are going “back to school” to teach local kindergarten students about agriculture using Ag in the Classroom lessons during the outreach program.

Hillsdale CFB members and local Ag organizations volunteer each winter to help provide an agricultural lesson to local kindergarten students. So far, kindergarten students at Will Carleton Academy, Hillsdale Community Schools, and Reading Community Schools have

Each volunteer is provided with materials that they take from classroom to classroom to provide students hands-on learning about the commodities locally and state-wide. They create a “farm charm” bracelet that tells the story about the importance of soil, sun, water to crops and livestock. The students also get a chance to meet with local farmers to ask questions and learn more about agriculture in their hometown. 

Agriculture in the Classroom is working toward an agriculturally literate society to communicate the value and how it applies to each and every one of us. Teaching the value of agriculture now can impact the future. Over 500 students each year are exposed to the Agriculture in the Classroom lesson.

Hillsdale CFB is grateful for the tremendous support from their members, local FFA programs, NRCS, Conservation District, Farm Service Agent, the Ag Council, and many more organization that have help keep this program going for several years!

"Thank you for sending Allison (Grimm) and Alyssa (Blonde) to teach our students about agriculture last week. They really enjoyed and were enthusiastic about the presentation and your presenters did a great job! We appreciate all you do!" said Julie Duncan, kindergarten teacher at Will Carleton Academy.

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau would like to thank the following volunteers for their time and efforts in providing Ag in the Classroom to our kindergarten students!

  • Kelli Williams

  • Jay Williams

  • Allison Grimm

  • Andrea Lee

  • Britney Dickerson

  • Crystal Hepker

  • Chris Phenicie

  • Alyssa Brown

  • Scott Brown

  • Alyssa Blonde

  • Mark Kline

  • Jonesville FFA students

  • Waldron FFA students

  • Camden FFA students

  • Kayla Lewis

  • Jennifer Bever

  • Nina Draper

  • Mary Welden

  • Drew Godfrey

  • Cody Birdsell

  • Meredith Inman

  • Debra Wheeler

To learn more or get involved, contact the Hillsdale CFB office at 517-437-2458 or [email protected]

Agriculture in the Classroom materials are provided by the Hillsdale CFB Promotion & Education Committee. If you’d like to hear more, contact the committee chair, Joe Draper [email protected].

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau would like to thank the following volunteers for their time and efforts in providing Ag in the Classroom to our kindergarten students!
Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

­­Hillsdale County members are going “back to school” to teach local kindergarten students about agriculture using Ag in the Classroom lessons during the outreach program.

Hillsdale CFB members and local Ag organizations volunteer each winter to help provide an agricultural lesson to local kindergarten students.

Each volunteer is provided with materials that they take from classroom to classroom to provide students hands-on learning about the commodities locally and state-wide. They create a “farm charm” bracelet that tells the story about the importance of soil, sun, water to crops and livestock. The students also get a chance to meet with local farmers to ask questions and learn more about agriculture in their hometown.

Agriculture in the Classroom is working toward an agriculturally literate society to communicate the value and how it applies to each and every one of us. Teaching the value of agriculture now can impact the future. Over 500 students each year are exposed to the Agriculture in the Classroom lesson.

Hillsdale CFB is grateful for the tremendous support from their members, local FFA programs, NRCS, Conservation District, Farm Service Agent, the Ag Council, and many more organization that have help keep this program going for several years!

To learn more or get involved, contact the Hillsdale CFB office at 517-437-2458 or [email protected]

Agriculture in the Classroom materials are provided by the Hillsdale CFB Promotion & Education Committee. If you’d like to hear more, contact the committee chair, Joe Draper [email protected].

Teaching the value of agriculture now can impact the future.
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrative Manager

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau President Stuart Welden traveled to Midland January 29-30 for Michigan Farm Bureau’s Council of Presidents’ Conference in Midland.

“The Council of President's Conference was a fun and informative conference.  I would highly recommend any new President to attend,” Stuart Welden said about this year’s conference. “I greatly enjoyed the support of District 2 Regional Rep, Kim Kerr. The whole group really seemed to enjoy hearing President Bednarski’s summary of his recent participation in the AFBF annual meeting, particularly his interactions with President Trump and Whitehouse staff.”

This year’s conference began with special programming for attendees new to the role of county Farm Bureau president. County Presidents heard from several speakers about goal setting, effective meetings, utilizing social media, leadership for success, partnership between county farm bureaus and farm bureau insurance, plus much more.

The remainder of the day, all county farm bureau presidents convened for a presentation by John Heiss, Chief Servant Officer at Training Direct, about “DISCover the Power of WE”- Unlocking the potential of others by developing a deeper understanding of yourself and those you lead. During the event reception, the presidents shared county success stories and ideas.

The evening banquet was opened by President Bednarski, followed by awards including Membership Awards, Core Apple Awards, and Champions of Excellence Awards. Hillsdale County Farm Bureau was presented with the 2018-2019 Core Apple Award! This award was given to county farm bureaus who filled all of their seats at core programs including State Annual, Washington Legislative, Lansing Legislative, and the Growing Together Conference.

The second day of the Council of Presidents’ Conference began with a presentation by Farm Bureau Insurance and members of various county farm bureaus to discuss member engagement, leadership development, and collaboration with Collegiate Farm Bureaus.

The rest of the morning was filled with many Michigan Farm Bureau Department staff who shared valuable resources to the presidents to be successful in their roles including “A Day in the Life of a CAM” where presidents were presented with an overwhelming amount of tasks that their County Administrative Managers (CAMs) juggle on a daily basis.

During lunch, presidents heard updates from membership and policy, followed by member panel.

The conference wrapped up with a word from Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski.

Beyond the general sessions, instructional workshops offered attendees guidance in the more practical aspects of their new roles, such as making the best use of county office staff, strategies for effective membership retention, communicating with members and matching their interests and abilities to appropriate Farm Bureau programs.

 

 

 

County Farm Bureau Presidents across the state gather to sharpen their skills, share ideas, and hear state and national updates.
By Janelle Walworth, County Adminstrator

Past President, Terry Finegan, pictured at the Hillsdale CFB Annual Meeting 2018.

2020 has arrived and the election campaigning has already started circulating among social media outlets and mailers.

County Farm Bureaus across the state establish Candidate Evaluation Committees to evaluate those state and national candidates who, if elected or reelected to public office, will represent all or a portion of their county. Following their evaluation the Committees will decide which candidate, for a specific public office, to recommend for an AgriPac endorsement.

Terry Finegan was recently appointed as the county’s Candidate Evaluation leader from former chair Mark Geib.

Terry has been involved in the multiple committees and positions including Board of Directors, District 1; Board of Directors, President; County Annual, many other committees before getting involved in the Candidate Evaluation Committee.

Hillsdale CFB members can join the committee by contacting Terry directly at 517-256-6774 or [email protected].

Click here for more information about the Candidate Evaluation Committee.

New at Helm of County Candidate Evaluation Committee
By Janelle Walworth, County Administrator






Hillsdale County Farm Bureau, established June 2020, is a member-based farm organization whose mission is to protect the long-term viability of production agriculture and rural communities in Hillsdale County.

 

For more than 10 years, Hillsdale County Farm Bureau has helped to provide food to those in need to our local community through their “Give Bushels” campaign by collecting funds that are then sent to South Central Michigan Food Bank in Battle Creek, Michigan. This campaign has been driven by Hillsdale CFB’s young farmers, raising about 1,500 annually. The Give Bushels campaign is kicked off at Hillsdale CFB’s Annual Meeting in August and pushed through mid-April to take advantage of the Food Bank’s match program which provides an additional 10% match to the funds donated.

 

In addition, Michigan Farm Bureau conducts a contest to recognize County Farm Bureau for their donation efforts. The County Farm Bureau with the most volunteer hours and total food donations receives $500 towards a Food Bank of their choice.

 

Join the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau young farmers of Hillsdale County in working towards creating a hunger-free America by participating in their “Give Bushels” campaign. Whether you donate twenty-five dollars or twenty-five times that, every buck gives bushels to hungry American’s through farm bureau and feeding America. Contact the Hillsdale CFB office to donate today 517-437-2458!


Click here for details: 2020 Give Bushels Campaign
Hillsdale County Farm Bureau members are seeking support in the fight against hunger! Consider donating today to support local food bank programs.
By Janelle Walworth, County Adminstrator

Pictured: Gene (Raymond) Baker , Kim Kerr, Kayla Lewis, Allison Grimm, Mark Kies, Jay Williams

At their September 2019 Annual Meeting, Hillsdale County Farm Bureau members celebrated and reflected on Michigan Farm Bureau’s 100 years of history. This event was a kick-off to their own centennial year which will occur June 2020.

The committee has met a few times over the past year with the most recent meeting on January 15th, narrowing down what they’d like to do to celebrate their organization’s centennial year!

The committee discussed floats in local parades, radio spots and news articles during Ag week, interviews with members to share their stories and experiences with farm bureau, a presence at the local fair displaying their history along with a scavenger hunt to give it a twist! They also discussed the idea of having different items available for purchase such as t-shirts, hats, and mugs imprinted with their logo and about their centennial year so members could have a piece of history of their own. The committee is hoping to partner with other local organizations to share in this event!

Photos, awards, news articles and other pieces of their history were spread along the table so they could take a glimpse at the prior farm bureau members and their accomplishments. The idea was proposed that they preserve these memories by scanning photos and news articles into digital form so they could not only preserve them, but share them on social medias and print them onto poster boards, etc.

The history celebration will be held at Hillsdale CFB’s Annual Meeting scheduled for Saturday, August 29th at the Hillsdale County Fair, Grange Building. Please save the date for his historic event!

If you want to be a part of the history celebration, please contact:

Jay Williams 517-320-1795 or [email protected]

Janelle Walworth 517-437-2458 or [email protected]

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau Centennial Celebration is in full swing! The centennial celebration will be at their Annual Meeting scheduled for Saturday, August 29th at the Hillsdale County Fair, Grange Building.