K-State Research chose six couples to represent this year’s Kansas State Fair as the 2020 class of Kansas Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers. These couples are being recognized for their leadership in agriculture, environmental stewardship and service to their communities.
The statewide awards program is in its 94th year and is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension and Kansas Farmer magazine.
This year’s honorees are Keith and Marsha Doane of Osborne County; Howard and Lori Elliot who farm in Brown County; John and Sharon Hendricks of Cheyenne County; Jay and Stacy Rezac who farm in Pottawatomie County; Kevin and Vera Schultz of Kiowa County and Ellis and Rita Yoder who reside in McPherson County.
Ellis and Rita Yoder’s McPherson County farm is more than 120 years old. Like their parents and grandparents before them, they remain committed to their farm, their community and their faith.
The farm where the couple resides is where Ellis grew up. He was involved in 4-H and FFA and later graduated from McPherson College with a degree in agriculture. After college, Ellis served in the U.S. Air Force for 28 years, earning the rank of lieutenant colonel. Today, he remains active in his church, the Kansas Farm Management Association, a local Continuing Care Retirement Community and on his Township board.
Rita grew up in Dickinson County on her family’s farm. She was also in 4-H and graduated with a home economics eduation degree from Sterling College. She worked as county home economist in Trego and McPherson counties. The couple has three children, Bradley, Kevin and Lane and four grandchildren.
Ellis attends the No-Till on the Plains and Soil Health U conferences to expand his knowledge of sustainable agriculture.
The farm’s efforts won them the Bankers Award for Soil Conservation in 1986. Yoder Farms also participates in global outreach with Growing Hope Globally – a Christian service organization that assists small farmers in developing countries practice sustainable agriculture.
“I have sat next to attendees who traveled from the other side of the world just to hear how to implement sustainable farming methods,” he said in a release. “I’ve got no excuse not to travel 60 miles.”
The annual awards banquet will be held on Sept. 14 at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. The banquet will be followed by a reception and dinner. Reservations are required. Reservations for dinner are required and are available by contacting Sue Robinson at 785-532-5820 or email email@example.com.