Six Iowa farm families will be recognized as recipients of the 2017 Way We Live Award at the Iowa State Fair. Each entrant was asked to submit a short essay describing how the occupation of farming and living on a farm has shaped their lives. Six families were chosen based on their dedication to agriculture and their strong Iowa farm values. Forty-two entries were submitted in all.
Each award winning family receives a prize package of $250, complimentary admission tickets, free parking, various coupons and individual recognition in the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center during the Fair.
The Way We Live Award sponsored by DuPont Pioneer and media sponsor WHO NewsRadio 1040, started in 2009, has recognized 54 Iowa farm families.
Hingtgen Family, Bellevue
Thursday, August 10
Scott Hingtgen began farming with his father in 1989 and started milking cows in 1990. He worked alongside his father until 1995. In 2011, Scott and Jessica purchased their farm and began renting other farms across the county. Their diverse farm operation includes dairy cows, beef steers, horses, chickens, soybeans, hay and corn. The Family utilizes two Lely robotic milkers, to milk between 120-130 cows a day. The Hingtgens also work to promote their farm operation on their social media channels. Like most farm families, their family life centers around the farm and teaching their children the benefits of hard work and responsibility.
Holst Family, Eldridge
Friday, August 11
Kevin Holst along with his wife Jessica and their 6 children currently farm corn, soybeans, hay and raise Gelbvieh cattle 6 miles from the Mississippi River. They also sell bulls to breeders, local raised beef, eggs and fiber from their two Angora goats. Kevin was in 4-H as a child, continued with FFA as a teen and most recently has served 3 terms with the Farm Service Agency. Jessica has kept a blog since 2006 outlining their daily life. She reaches readers across the globe, keeping them informed about the busy days of a large homeschooling family living on an Iowa farm. Helping each other and working together keeps farming a career and lifestyle their family wouldn't trade for anything!
Boyer Family, Weldon
Tuesday, August 15
In 1995 Jason Boyer, his wife Amy and 40 purebred Limousin cows moved from the east coast to Weldon, Iowa to escape urban sprawl. The pair purchased 140 acres of land and slowly worked to build up their operation. In 2001, the family purchased and restored a 1930's hip-roof barn, and opened the Harvest Barn Marketplace. The store started with fresh produce and country inspired gifts. Since then it has evolved into a seasonal business with a corn maze, pumpkin patch, fun farm and many delicious food products. In 2008, the family began to directly market their products at the Downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market. The Boyer's current farm operation consists of purebred Limousin bulls, purebred Limousin cows, feeder hogs and a small flock of commercial club lambs. The farm also grows crops including corn, soybeans, pumpkins and alfalfa hay.
Fay Family, Churdan
Wednesday, August 16
Dennis and Karen Fay started farming in 1960 in Calhoun County as 4th generation farmers. Through the years they have raised corn, soybeans and cattle. Currently, they have a herd of Spot, Hampshire and Crossbred sows to sell as show pigs to 4-H/FFA members. The whole family has been involved in the operation with 6 children and 6 grandchildren. Dennis and Karen currently live in Churdan, but that doesn't stop Dennis visiting the farms every day to do hog chores and check on the crops and equipment. Dennis was a past county Swine Superintendent and Assistant 4-H Swine Superintendent for the Iowa State Fair. His son Mike followed in his footsteps as the Dallas County Swine Superintendent and is currently the Assistant 4-H Swine Superintendent for the Iowa State Fair.
Meyers Family, West Liberty
Thursday, August 17
Mike and Pam Meyers are 5th generation farmers and raise their kids on the family farm established in 1876. Mike started farming with his dad and brother out of high school and bought his first farm at the age of 21. After marrying his wife, Pam, their family grew and they expanded their farm through investments in land, building a custom feed harvesting operation and livestock. Today, the whole family is involved in agriculture; their children help with the calving operation, as well as the corn, soybeans, lambs and goats. Their son-in-law is also the Advisor for the West Liberty FFA Chapter which keeps the family involved.
Hansen Family, Dallas Center
Friday, August 18
In June 1986, Jeff Hansen bought his first load of feeder pigs. Shortly after, he began raising corn, soybeans, alfalfa and began adding cows to his dad's beef herd along with starting a farrow to finish operation. Jeff raised Hy-Line breeding stock from 1996 until 2010, when he changed his hog operation to comply with Niman protocol. Jeff & his wife Barb started the Dallas County 4-H club, Granger Strivers, in 2001 where they helped guide both farm and non-farm kids with livestock projects. Everything they've done revolves around the farm – their daughters' extra-curricular activities, family vacations and even college choices. This focus has unified their family on a common goal, to all work together to make the farm successful.