Excellence in Ag award recognizes achievements

Randy Suess, left, and Kara Kaelber were last year's recipients of the Excellence in Agriculture award. This year's recipients will be announced Tuesday morning at the Spokane Ag Expo.

The 2018 Excellence in Agriculture awards will be presented Tuesday during this year’s Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

The main goal of the award is to recognize achievements in the industry, create awareness of hard work and celebrate innovation, said Tim Cobb, chairman of the selection committee.

The committee considers four criteria: innovation, economic or environmental stewardship, positive impact and industry awareness and outreach.

The selection committee typically receives 12 or more nominations each year. The committee sends applications to nominees and narrows the number to three winners, Cobb said.

Last year’s winners were:

• Luke Moore of Garfield, Wash., in the individual youth category.

• Kara Kaelber, education director at the Franklin County Conservation District and coordinator of the Wheat Week program, which explains wheat farming to fourth- and fifth-grade students.

• Retired farmer Randy Suess, who received the Legacy Award for his lifetime commitment to agriculture.

Kaelber said the award showed her the industry supports her program, now in its 11th year.

“I think the ag industry is a thankless industry,” she said. “I don’t think our producers and the people behind the producers ever get the recognition that they deserve. We’re feeding the world and yet most of the time they get criticism.”

As a part of the program, students send farmers postcards, she said.

“Every now and then, they need to hear ‘Thank you,’ ‘You’re doing a good job,’ ‘We appreciate you,’ and ‘What you do is a good thing,’” Kaelber said.

Suess said the award was a “complete shock” and a “great honor.”

“I always felt that what I did really wasn’t that extraordinary,” he said. “It seems like you’ve got to do something to help your industry out. I’m really kind of disappointed that more people don’t. If everybody would spend 10 minutes volunteering time, I think we’d be able to accomplish a lot of great things.”

Many future leaders are hard at work right now.

“I am continually amazed at the talented people I come across in this industry,” Cobb said. “We are seeing opportunities for younger producers to get a change at working full-time in ag and look forward to fostering an environment where good people are encouraged and empowered to do great things.”


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