Franklin County Farm Bureau Association members gathered to celebrate their 100th anniversary Wednesday night.
But first, board member Karl Eisele, dressed in 1917 attire, stepped back in time, and urged the audience to join a “club” to try to help farmers do a better job of farming and get better prices for their products.
After Eisele and county president Allen Campbell made their pitch, Eisele closed the skit by asking “Can we get all that done?”
Returning to present day, “Franklin County members have an outstanding record of leadership,” Terry Holdren, Kansas Farm Bureau chief executive officer, said.
“Congratulations on your first hundred years,” he continued, mentioning some names from the early years who set the bar high in the county.
All records of the club formed in 1917 have been lost through the years, due mostly to the 1951 flood, but it is known that Dr. O.O. Wolf, Ottawa stockman, veterinarian and agricultural leader, was a key figure. When Kansas Farm Bureau organized in 1919, he was on the board and later served as president for 10 years.
The speaker also recognized Frances (Mrs. H.E.) Gillette of the Homewood community, who represented all women of the state as a Kansas Farm Bureau board member from 1925 to 1930, and Lee Perkins of Richmond, 1961-62, the only state board members from this county.
In 1951, Evelyn (Mrs. Vern) Alden of Wellsville led efforts to separate Franklin County Farm Bureau and K-State Extension Service, which had been the same until then. This is often called “The Great Divorce” since it was a major change.
Two years later, Kansas Farm Bureau followed Franklin County’s lead, and voted to end the relationship between the Bureau and Extension, although the two groups continue to work together on some programs.
Since separating, “Farm Bureau has focused on service to its members, advocating for their needs, and educating the public about agriculture,” Holdren explained.
“There is more at stake now than ever for Kansas farmers, and more apathy in the disconnected public about agriculture,” he warned.
Kansas Farm Bureau will work to reverse this trend by initiating “a new brand of leadership,” with one of the trainers being Dr. Jill Casten, Franklin County Farm Bureau member.
Noting there are fewer farmers farming more acres and an even greater need for understanding agriculture, Holdren encouraged Franklin County Farm Bureau members, who number about 1,500, to have a second 100 years as productive and helpful as the first 100.
The mission of Farm Bureau has evolved some over the century, and focuses today on Helping Feed the World, as noted on the program covers and placemats.
President Allen Campbell conducted the rest of the program, which included presenting $500 college scholarships to Hope Kearney of Wellsville High School, Morgan Woodbury of West Franklin High School, Magdeline Bowers of Ottawa High School and Morgan Jilek of Central Heights High School.
Working with the Franklin County Health Department and Frontier Extension District, the county Farm Bureau will use a $500 grant from Frontier Farm Credit on “Ripples,” an educational program that teaches families basic cooking, budgeting and nutrition to help them move up the economic ladder. Alan Maxwell of Farm Credit presented the check.
Those thanked for their Farm Bureau service included Allen Campbell, out-going president; Harley Broers, nine years as board member; Shawn Turner, past chair of Ag Promotion/Education, and Sharon Geiss, county coordinator.
A list of county presidents from 1952 to current, researched by Eisele, was included in the program. Placemats called “100+ years of Farm Bureau and ag information” were researched and prepared by Pat Vining, who was thanked by Deb Dunn, representing the board.
Directors of the county association, far different than the club organized 100 years ago, are: Aaron Dunbar, in-coming president; Aaron Douglas, in-coming vice-president; Gene Van Horn, secretary-treasurer; Mark Wray, Karl Eisele, Deb Dunn, Brooke Stinson, Young Farmers & Ranchers Chair, and Lacey Wray, Women’s Chair.
Others on the Women’s Committee are Twilla Eisele, Elaine Dunbar, Peggy Coen, Brenda Wray and Amy Strenth.
The Ron and Elaine Dunbar, Aaron and Cassie Dunbar family was recognized as Farm Family of the Year for their outstanding farm and ranch operation as well as community involvement and service.
Butch Bazil received the Century Farm recognition.
Numerous out-of-county guests including Kansas Farm Bureau president, Richard and Shirley Felts; George Pretz of Miami County, 2nd District representative on the state board, and others were introduced.
Delegates and alternates who will attend the Kansas Farm Bureau annual meeting in December were approved.
Members are encouraged to watch for their next electronic county newsletter and also go to YouTube for a program of Farm Bureau members over the years which was prepared by Shawn Turner.