And the 2022 finalists are...
Michigan Farm Bureau is proud to recognize up-and-coming leaders in the Farm Bureau organization and Michigan's agriculture industry.
Our Young Farmer Award program honors deserving individuals in four categories and rewards winners with top-notch prizes from generous and loyal program sponsors as well as $400 cash awards to each category finalist.
Young Farmer Achievement
The Young Farmer Achievement Award recognizes successful young farmers who derive a majority of their income from an owned production agriculture enterprise and showcases their achievements in the business of farming (applicants may apply as a couple or an individual).
Garret Bartholomew farms with his parents Travis and Tricia Bartholomew in Kalamazoo County, operating a 200-head dairy with 250 beef steers and 850 total acres of corn, wheat, hay and pasture.
Matt and Alisha Gibson
Matt and Alisha Gibson farm in Kalamazoo County, operating an 800-head hog-finishing facility and raising approximately 600 acres of corn and soybeans. As the farm’s sole proprietor, Matt is self-employed while Alisha works as an assurance manager at Plante Moran, an accounting firm providing audit, tax, consulting and wealth-management services.
Robyn Fogarasi and her husband Byron’s Arenac County beef farm has grown from fewer than 100 to almost 400 head of beef cattle, and their cropland has quadrupled to 1,200 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and hay.
Katelyn Packard is a Washtenaw County dairy farmer milking 400 head alongside her grandparents, parents, brother and husband. The crop side consists of 900 acres of corn and hay, some wheat for straw, soybeans for rotational purposes and some cover crops for spring forage.
Excellence in Agriculture
The Excellence in Agriculture Award is designed to recognize young farmers for their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau (applicants may apply as a couple or an individual).
Marcia Cripps is an agronomist at Lennard Ag vegetable farm, growing tomatoes, seed corn and 10,000 acres of chipping potatoes.
The St. Joseph County Farm Bureau member also collaborates with a business partner to head up Agfluence LLC, an agriculture media marketing company serving agribusinesses clients nationwide.
Kent County fruit grower Allan Robinette farms with his father, brother and two uncles. His primary role is orchard manager on the operation, which consists of 15 acres of apples, six of sweet cherries and four acres of peaches.
St. Joseph County's Emily Swift and her parents farm 100 acres of pumpkins, zucchini, summer and winter squash, eggplant, cucumbers, various peppers, green beans, soybeans and corn. With that menu it’s no surprise there’s also an agritourism sideline opening the farm for autumnal fun, including a nine-acre corn maze and play area for children.
Mark and Jamie Trowbridge
Mark and Jamie Trowbridge raise about 50 head of registered Angus cattle at their cow-calf operation in St. Joseph County, plus approximately 100 acres of hay.
Both work as flock supervisors for a large, vertically integrated poultry company that raises, processes and markets approximately 45 million chickens annually.
The Young Farmer Agriculture Leader Award honors successful young agriculturalists, who earn the majority of their income from a farm operation, for their outstanding leadership in Farm Bureau, farming and throughout the agricultural community.
Ottawa County’ Emily Boeve keeps a herd of almost 100 animals — Katahdin and Hampshire-cross sheep, and Dexter beef cattle — for breeding stock and club animals, but primarily to supply her business, Shamrock Meats.
Rita Herford farms in Huron County with her parents and brothers, raising more than 5,000 acres of sugar beets, corn, wheat, rye and black, navy and small red beans.
A seasoned Farm Bureau leader and ProFILE graduate, Herford in 2015 received the White House Champion of Change Women Empowering their Communities Award.
Elaine Palm is a partner at Great Lakes Lamb LLC, her family’s Ogemaw County farm, comprised of raising sheep for breeding stock and meat, forage production and pasture maintenance. She also works as a community nutrition instructor for Michigan State University Extension.
In Midland County Sarah Zastrow produces corn, soybeans, garden vegetables, maple syrup, eggs and honey alongside her husband and grandparents. But it’s off the farm where she’s made a name for herself as a certified exercise physiologist specializing in farm stress, reflecting a passion that’s become her calling and, increasingly, her livelihood.
The Young Agriculture Employee Award recognizes farm employees and ag professionals for their contributions to the success and long-term profitability of their workplace.
Nominees are also judged on their leadership involvement in Farm Bureau, agriculture and the local community.
Chelsea Smith raises beef cattle, lambs, chickens, horses and honeybees in Missaukee County, plus 100 acres of hay for forage. Off the farm she works as a dairy herd information specialist for CentralStar Cooperative, helping dairies enhance profitability through improved recordkeeping, testing and artificial insemination services.
Chad Geoit works as a sales agronomist for Wilbur-Ellis in Three Rivers, working with seed corn, green bean, potato and row-crop growers on plans to maximize their efficiency, sustainability and returns on investment.
Andrew Heinitz works for Rhoda Farms, a 3,500-acre seed corn and soybean farm where he played a key role in updating the design of the operation’s grain-storage facility and is integral to management and equipment decisions.
Kyle Rasch manages a 240-acre apple orchard with his parents in Ottawa County, where he noticed early a language barrier impairing worker relations and cutting into the farm’s efficiencies.