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Young Farmers and Ranchers take top honors

Winners of the Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions were announced Jan. 12 at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 90th annual meeting. Young farmers from around the United States competed for the awards by demonstrating knowledge of and achievement in agriculture, as well as commitment to promoting the agriculture industry.

Donald and Alicia Blankenship of Tennessee won the Achievement Award. They are the winners of a 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck, courtesy of Dodge, and a $1,000 product voucher from Valvoline. They also received free registration to the 2009 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference, Feb. 7 to 9, in Sacramento, Calif.

Runners-up in the Achievement Award contest included Larry and Jenny Rebecca Black of Florida, Brian and Catherine Ziehm of New York, Bryan Boll of Minnesota, and Chris and Jamie Demerly of Michigan. They each received a compact tractor, courtesy of Case IH, and a $500 product voucher from Valvoline.

The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation's growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau leadership and leadership outside Farm Bureau.

James G. Williams of Idaho won the Discussion Meet. He will take home a 2009 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck, courtesy of Dodge, plus free registration to the 2009 YF&R Leadership Conference.

The three runners-up in the Discussion Meet were Marc Arnusch of Colorado, Dalton Henry of Kansas and Nicole Reese of Wisconsin. They each received a $6,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a Farm Boss chainsaw, both courtesy of STIHL.

The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.

Dan and Cara June Strasser of Tennessee won the Excellence in Agriculture Award. They received a 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck and free registration to the YF&R Leadership Conference.

The three runners-up in the Excellence in Agriculture competition were Curt and Carrie Divine of Kentucky, Jeff and Alyssa Vander Werff of Michigan, and Matthew and Teresa Widboom of Minnesota. Each received a $6,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a Farm Boss chain saw, courtesy of STIHL.

The Excellence in Agriculture award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability, and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

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