Kelly Huenink named outstanding National Young Ag Professional winner
Kelly Huenink from Hudson, Colo., a member of the St. Vrain Valley Young Farmer Chapter was named the Outstanding National Young Ag Professional at the National Young Farmer Educational Institute held recently in Baltimore, Md.
Huenink is the operation and finance manager for Walter Farms Incorporated near Hudson, Colo. She was the recipient of the Outstanding Colorado Young Farmer Agri-Service Award in 2008.
Huenink, 40, has a vast background in agriculture organization leadership, agriculture education and farm and ranch management. She has long been considered one of the most significant female ag leaders in Colorado. She is very deserving of the national recognition.
Huenink, grew up on the Western Slope with parents who worked on a large ranch in Eagle County where her dad was the farm manager. After high school, she attended Northeastern Junior College, moved on to Colorado State University to earn a bachelor's degree in agriculture education and to collect her vocational credentials in production agriculture and farm and ranch management for Colorado. She most recently completed post-bachelor's work in agriculture business from Kansas State University.
Early in her professional career, she taught vocational agriculture at Valley and then at Holyoke High School. She moved into the collegiate area for 10 years, seven of which she spent teaching farm and ranch management courses at Northeastern Junior College.
In 2004, Huenink began working for the Colorado Corn Growers, running its FARM profit division where she found herself helping a number of the organization's members with their bookkeeping processes and procedures. In addition, she began doing some free lance accounting work through AgriCare Accounting. This activity would, in part, lead her to a full time position with Walter Farms in the spring of 2007.
Walter Farms is a family-owned and operated farming and ranching operation located north of Hudson which has both commercial and registered Angus herds. The ranch works diligently to improve both genetics and profit margins. Through her affiliation with AgriCare Accounting, Huenink took on the task of helping a family member involved with the ranch to computerize all of its accounting, including accounts payable and payroll.
"When this family member decided to leave the ranch, all of the computerization was going so well that I was asked to move to their farm and assume the full time finance management responsibilities and keep the computerization going," explains Huenink.
Since taking on the full-time role, Walter Farms has started a large back-grounding operation as a way of diversifying and creating a more steady monthly income. Huenink sometimes even finds herself out working with the cattle, an activity she has loved since her childhood. She also will oversee the advertising of cattle for Walter Angus when it's time for ranch sales.
Huenink's own family, including her parents and a brother, also operates a farm and ranch east of Kersey, Colo., raising hay and cattle. She is a 25 percent owner in this enterprise as well. Today, Huenink continues to also work with AgriCare, aiding owner Steve Coleman with the bookkeeping of approximately 15 clients.
This lady's list of accomplishments reads like a Who's Who in Colorado Agriculture. She has been a member of the Colorado Young Farmers since she was first eligible to join. Since then, she has not only been a member, but also a co-advisor and an advisor to her peers. She's held offices in the chapters she's been involved in--both the Northeastern Junior College and St. Vrain Chapters and currently serves as chapter president for St. Vrain.
As perhaps one of the best mentors of young agriculturists in the state, Huenink has been editor of the CYF's state newsletter and she's been a vital member of the team that revised the Young Farmer Manual for all chapter advisors across the state. In 2005, when Colorado hosted the organization's national institute, Huenink was publicity chairman for the Colorado National Planning Committee, which was a three year commitment.
Herself once a Colorado FFA officer, Kelly has been very involved with that organization, serving on the Colorado FFA Foundation and also assisting as asked with the goings on of the state officer team and FFA Foundation activities. She helps with the operation of the state convention every year in some capacity. Recently, she served on two curriculum writing teams for Colorado Ag Education in the area of ag business. She is currently writing agriculture curriculum for the Rafiki Foundation which serves 10 schools in Africa.
As if she isn't personally diversified enough already, Huenink is passionate about her faith and volunteers for several programs at her Greeley church in both the adult and youth areas. She has been trained for missionary work with the Rafiki Foundation and has hopes of someday traveling to Africa to utilize what she's learned.