By MEGGIE. I. FOSTER
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — In celebration of the heritage and history of agriculture in the state of Indiana, Gov. Mike Pence and Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann recently declared March Ag Appreciation Month, kicking off the celebration with a luncheon and networking event at the Hoosier statehouse in Indianapolis.
“I’m delighted to be here today to help celebrate agriculture month and honor our state’s farm families,” said Pence. “But while we may be here to celebrate this month as ag appreciation month, we know that every month of the year Hoosiers appreciate the agriculture industry.”
While March is Ag Appreciation Month in Indiana, March 19 is National Agriculture Day, a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Organized in 1973 by the Agriculture Council of America, an organization composed of leaders in agriculture, food and fiber industries, the day, with events taking place across the country, is dedicated to increasing public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in our society.
“We are just truly blessed here in Indiana to have 62,000 farmers that contribute nearly $25 billion in economic impact to our state annually.” added Ellspermann. “And with 98 percent of our population not living on a farm, we need to recognize the work and how important it is to grow food for Hoosier families and our animals.”
In an effort to officially declare March Ag Appreciation Month, Ellspermann summoned Cameron Mann, the Indiana FFA State President, from Cloverdale, Ind., to read a proclamation.
In her declaration, Mann proclaimed that “Indiana’s family of farmers are the core of our state’s economy, a vital component of our rural landscape and reflect Indiana’s rich heritage, and, whereas, Indiana’s family farmers are stewards of the land, contributing to the health, beauty, productivity and quality of our state’s crops, soil and natural resources.”
Ag Essay Contest winners
In addition to the proclamation from one of the state’s most passionate young farm voices, Ellspermann also recognized the final Ag Essay Contest student winners.
The six winning Hoosier students were selected for their winning essays in the third annual essay contest titled, Our Food, Our Farmers: Nourishing Generations of Hoosiers. For the 2013 competition, students in grades 4-12 wrote essays on the following prompt: Describe how Indiana farmers nourish 1) our families, 2) our animals, and 3) our earth (soil).
“Congratulations to all who participated in the essay contest and highlighted the many ways Hoosier farmers excel in providing for others while protecting our natural resources,” said Ellspermann.
More than 500 students submitted essays from across Indiana.
The winning essays were selected from three grade levels: 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12. First place winners received an Apple iPad and second place winners receive Beats by Dr. Dre headphones.
Essay contest winners included: (Grades 4-6) first place, Josie Edwards, 6th grader, home-schooled from Plymouth, Ind.; second place, Katelyn Schreckenghaust, 5th grader at Galveston Elementary, Galveston, Ind.; (Grades 7-9) first place, Yijiang Zhao, 7th grader at Central Middle School, Columbus, Ind., second place, Travis Koester, 9th grader at North Posey High School, Poseyville, Ind.; (Grades 10-12) first place, Jessica-Lena Bohlin, 11th grader at LaPorte High School, LaPorte, Ind.; and second place, Aubrey Fleck, 12th grader at North White Middle Senior High School, Monon, Ind.
Sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers and Indiana Humanities, the essay contest encouraged students to recognize and share all the ways Indiana agriculture plays a positive role in their own lives –as well as in the lives of those around them. In addition, teachers were able to apply a breakdown of the State Core Academic Standards met by the essay contest.
“This essay contest continues to be a ‘win-win-win’ for all. Teachers meet their curriculum needs, students participate in a fun and interesting project, and our Indiana farming community is recognized for its local and global impact,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities.
The winning essays will be posted on www.indianafamilyoffarmers.com and www.indianahumanities.org
This contest is part of Indiana Humanities’ two-year Spirit of Competition initiative.
Spirit of Competition will celebrate the role competition plays in our lives by examining core elements of competition such as civility, rivalry, innovation, passion and failure.