By Sentinel Staff
Gary and Eileen Patrick never thought about public recognition when choosing a career. They knew there would be little as they went forward with farming. They have, in their own words, lived the best lives.
“It’s been a good life,” Eileen said. “We are so glad our boys have a passion for it and want to continue.”
During the 35th Annual Farm Forum on Feb. 24, Gary and Eileen Patrick were recognized as the 2019 Farm Family of the Year for their outstanding achievement in agriculture, community leadership and family development.
Agriculture’s roots run deep in the Patrick family. Gary and Eileen are the third generation to live on their family farm located east of Lindsborg. Gary’s grandfather Gus immigrated from Sweden and settled in the Lindsborg area in 1879. Gus Patrick purchased his first farm in 1882. Gary and his two sisters grew up on the farm and Gary and Eileen purchased it in 1995 to raise their three sons.
Eileen also grew up on a farm north of McPherson. She said she “knew what I was getting in to” when she and Gary were married. She has been actively involved in the farming operation since their marriage.
The Patrick’s have a diversified farming operation, which includes a cow-calf herd and wheat, soybeans, milo, corn, alfalfa, prairie hay and forage sorghum. They utilize no-till practices on some of their farm ground, but still do conventional tillage where “it works.” Utilizing sound conservation practices is important to Patrick, who currently serves on the McPherson County Conservation District Board of Directors.
“We’ve made our living solely off the farm since that time,” Gary said. The couple has three sons who all worked on the farm growing up and continue to do so. All three have purchased or rented their own farm ground, and each owns a percentage of the Patrick cow herd. The whole family, including spouses and children, help in peak times.
While Gary and Eileen have made their living from the farm, they believe life is more than farm work. The couple have been involved members of the community throughout their married life.
The McPherson Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee brought the agriculture and business sectors together to recognize those who make a difference to the agriculture community and to share information on current topics that affect us all.
During the 35th Annual Farm Forum on February 24, Coach Mark Potter shared his personal journey with severe depression and mental challenges. The McPherson Chamber ag committee, being very aware of the challenging and stressful farming economy, invited Mark and his wife Nanette to speak about “Embrace the Journey.” Mark used his experiences to communicate practical ideas about mindset changes and things we can all do to help others.
Mark’s willingness to be vulnerable to make a difference in the lives of others, is a true testament to his passion and his grace. One of his key messages was to have conversations to let others know, its ok not to be ok all the time. It’s important to embrace a healthier attitude about seeking help. Connect with family, friends and mental health professionals. Marks powerful message will remain with us long after the Farm Forum.
In addition to the Farm Family recognition, the McPherson County Fire Departments were honored for their incredible contribution to agriculture and the families it impacts. The 2019 Friend of Agriculture Award was presented to the nine rural fire districts in McPherson County, along with the McPherson Fire Department, which also assist the rural fire districts, and the CHS Fire Brigade who share their training facility with the county fire departments. McPherson County has between 250 - 275 trained firefighters available to respond to emergencies in the county, a number that has remained stable for the past several years. The rural fire departments are all volunteer units, and the McPherson department has volunteer responders as well. In addition to covering its own district, each fire department is available to others in mutual aid if needed.
County firefighters respond to fires, medical emergencies and accidents, with rural units often getting to the scene of medical emergencies and accidents before an ambulance can. All fire departments in the county have personnel trained in fighting fires, and trained first responders, who can provide emergency medical assistance at the scene until the ambulance arrives.
We are fortunate to have fire districts working together to cover the entire county and we appreciate the many volunteer hours, the dedication of all firefighters, and their incredible contribution to agriculture and the families it impacts.
Pictures from the McPherson Chamber 2020 Farm Forum are available on the Chamber’s Facebook page and more information about the Farm Forum is posted on www.mcphersonchamber.org