Derek and Katie Sawyer of rural McPherson were recently honored as a Kansas Farm Bureau Farm Family of the Year.
The Sawyers represent Farm Bureau's seventh geographic district. Families were also selected from the nine other districts across the state.
The award recognizes families who have distinguished themselves through participation in Farm Bureau programs and leadership, family activities, community and civic service, as well as displaying good farm operation management, according to the website.
“We were excited,” Derek said of hearing the news. “It's fun to be honored for your activities. It's always nice to be rewarded for some of that.”
Those activities are numerous.
Derek has been a member of Kansas Farm Bureau for nearly 10 years. He has served on the Young Farmer and Ranchers Committee of both the Kansas Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
He is also on the McPherson County Farm Bureau board of directors and is involved with the Inman High School FFA.
“Working with youth is a way of showing them the opportunities that are involved,” he said. “It's not easy to get started in agriculture right now. Showing them possible alternatives to just jumping in and owning a farm right away is important so they'll stay involved and continue to be part of our small communities...and remain in Kansas.”
Following their marriage in 2010, Katie has also been heavily involved in agriculture. Her forte is a number of initiatives that help educate individuals about agriculture, whether they're actively involved or not.
She has done this through her blog, www.newtothefarm.wordpress.com, and coordinating activities through McPherson County Women in Agriculture, among other venues.
“Making the agriculture community stronger is important because then people speak more highly of it, its just a more unified voice,” she said, adding it’s also important to educate the general public.
“I think that's vital right now just because agriculture has become a staple of the media's attention. That's good and that's bad. It gets people talking but it also portrays some very negative and incorrect information about agriculture.”
Katie said they have a duty to speak up, because if they do not, others will speak on their behalf.
“We're a small voice of many across the country, but we need to do it. You never know how you're going to inspire or who's going to stumble across what we're putting out there. (We're) hopefully changing and opinion and at minimum, starting a conversation.”
The Sawyers farm 2,400 acres, have a 350-head Angus-based cowherd, background 2,000 head of calves every year, and also grow corn, wheat, soybeans, and grain sorghum.