Helping the hungry: Local young farmers program honored

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Austin McKinney, right, president of the Bartholomew County Farm Bureau Young Farmers, receives two awards from an awards presenter at the annual Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer Leadership Conference in January in Indianapolis.

A Bartholomew County young farmers program received two awards recently in honor of its efforts to help food banks that feed the hungry.

Bartholomew County Farm Bureau Young Farmers was one of three groups honored in January in Indianapolis at the annual Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer Leadership Conference for helping Feeding America, a nationwide nonprofit network of more than 200 food banks.

It was honored for donating the most money ($4,000) and donating the most time (780 hours). Austin McKinney, president of the local organization, said the awards reflect the group’s annual effort of making homemade ice cream at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair, which raises money for local food banks such as Love Chapel.

McKinney said it was pleasing to see the groups support of the community recognized.

“It was a lot of hard work, and so we’re proud to be recognized for these things — something noteworthy that we are having an impact in the community,” said Lorna Meyer, vice president of Bartholomew County Farm Bureau Young Farmers.

The organization, which has 25 to 30 members, is for those 18 and older who are involved or have an interest in agriculture. Not only does the group make ice cream at the fair, but members further their ag education, said McKinney, 26, who works at Cummins but also farms corn, soybeans and wheat near Hope with his father and grandfather.

For example, they have visited the Chicago Board of Trade, toured grain seed operations, toured Monsanto’s operation in St. Louis and attended the Farm Progress Show, McKinney and Meyer said.

Meyer said she’s been part of the young farmers group for 11 years.

“I like the fellowship. We come together for a great cause,” said Meyer, 33, a nurse at a doctor’s office and wife of a full-time farmer.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.