Media Releases, Legislative News, Agricultural Updates
Cooperatives Champion Award: Dan Hobbs
Dan has thirty years of agricultural and rural development experience in the United States and South America. He has served as executive director of Organic Seed Alliance, NewFarms, and Nuestras Raices, all 501(c)(3) organizations. Since 1997, he worked in a variety of capacities with the RMFU Co-op Development Center including Center Director and now contracted service provider. He completed his professional cooperative training through CooperationWorks in 2005. He was responsible for providing training and technical assistance to numerous rural cooperative and economic development projects and businesses throughout rural areas of Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. He is skilled in working with agricultural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses in start-up stages, and especially resource-limited producer groups, food hubs, land access projects, rural workforce development and multi-stakeholder cooperatives.
Dan is a fifth-generation Coloradan and a first-generation farmer. He holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies, and farms 35 irrigated acres with his wife, Nanna, in Montezuma County, Colorado. Together they produce certified organic heritage grains, varietal garlic, chilé peppers, open-pollinated seeds, and numerous value-added products under the name Pueblo Seed & Food Company.
Farm Family of the Year Award: Kathleen and Phillip Box
Kathleen and Phillip Box started farming using land they acquired from Phillip’s family. They grow feed crops, mostly for their own cow-calf operation. They also have weaner cattle and do some finishing. They set up a direct marketing program known as Box Beef. Kathleen is quietly stepping back from running a home-based daycare and is an active volunteer for community boards and committees, including Rawhide Days, Annie’s project steering committee, 4-H and Cooperative Extension Service. She also served on the RMFU Board of Directors. Phillip is a FUSA Agent and has served on the boards of the local soil and water conservation district, credit union, rural water co-op, ditch board, and the city-county economic development board. Phillip is now a trustee for Mesalands Community College. Both are leaders in the First Baptist church.
Just as significantly, all of the Box family members invest their time in being advocates for the families who make their living farming and ranching. They are mentors to beginning farmers and champions of making sure their community creates and maintains an environment to strengthen agriculture as an economic base and a way of life.
FUSA Agent of the Year: Rick Jackson
Rick Jackson has been on the job for 40 years, and yet the agency has been around longer. His father, Perry, started the Farmers Union Insurance Agency in Sterling in 1962. Twenty years later, in 1982, Rick joined the agency. Twenty years after that, in 2002, Rick’s son, Cory, joined the agency. Rick’s daughter, Raegen, started a Farmers Union Insurance agency this year. The Jackson family has been active for many years in FUSA and RMFU. Cory and Raegen both attended our summer camps, and now their kids do as well.
When not busy caring for his community, Rick also grows crops and raises cattle. He is a farmer, just as his dad was. He supports the 4-H club. In fact, during the 4-H livestock auction, this agent will stay to the end to show support for each student’s presentation.
A close family member shared this thought. “For him, being able to give someone his word and then keep his word means everything. He wants to make sure people are taken care of. He has an incredibly loyal following and a high retention rate because he puts his customers as the number one priority.”
Fellows Excellence in Leadership & Service Award: Kyler Brown
Kyler Brown is an active member of RMFU, advocating on behalf of our farmers and ranchers with his famed cowboy hat. He is also an incredible farmer and community member. He is constantly learning more about every aspect of agriculture. You will find him at the local sales barn, at a soil health conference, or at the farmers market. He is a member of the Farm Credit ag cooperative and a local food co-op. He shows up at meetings on water, regenerative ag, and 4-H. For him, agriculture is not just about growing crops and raising livestock; it’s so much more. He cares about how agriculture relates to the environment, the hometown economy, and the national impact of health and economic growth.
Meritorious Service Award: Anita and Steve Nein
Steve and Anita Nein run a farm and ranch near Ovid, less than a mile from the Nebraska state line in northeastern Colorado. The operation focuses on 125 cow-calf pairs, 300 acres of dryland fields, and 160 acres of irrigated crops, mostly alfalfa, wheat, or sometimes corn. They started farming in 1972, yet for 26 years they rented out acres while Steve worked at First National Bank in Julesburg. He started as a farm loan officer and worked his way up to become the Chief Executive Officer. Farming is now his fulltime profession.
Both CSU grads, they joined the Peace Crops after graduation. During those two years, they worked on projects in Panama and were able to travel through Central and South America. Anita worked for the National Resources Conservation Service for 25 years. She also served on the National Association of Conservation Districts Board and on the Sedwick County Hospital Board. She found time to be a teacher and to handle music at the Sedgwick Community Presbyterian church. Steve is a member of the fire department and sits on their local fair board.
After participating in a National Farmers Union legislative fly-in to Washington, D.C., in 2014, Steve became active in Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. He served on the RMFU Board of Directors from 2014 to 2020.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Ken Anderson and Ken Macy
Ken Anderson was on the RMFU Board from his election in 2005 until his retirement in 2020. Ken and Dallas farm and ranch near Center, in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Ken has participated in state and national conventions, in his local chapter, and national fly-ins to Washington, DC. Ken did field work for RMFU as well.
Ken grew up on a family farm in the San Luis Valley, learning how to manage good times and bad. Ken attended Northeastern Junior College and for a while worked for a fertilizer company in Idaho, but farming and the way of life in the San Luis Valley drew him back. He and Dallas raised their family close to their hometown roots. Today the family farm operation includes native grass, hay, barley for Coors, a cow-calf operation, and goats. Ken is quiet about his leadership in agriculture and his hometown community. He is actively involved in South Central Colorado Seniors, the Elks Lodge, and in his spare time he serves his community as Saguache County Commissioner. Dallas invested an equal amount of time in working on the farm and raising the family and attending to community activities.
Ken Macy was first elected to the board in 2001 and retired in 2022. He remembers that then-RMFU President Dave Carter encouraged him to get more involved. Not long after, he represented the Farmers Union on a farm bill discussion panel held in Idaho. He has spoken in favor of County of origin labeling in hearings held in Denver and Cody and Douglas, Wyoming. Ken says Vernon Franke, the father of current RMFU President Chad Franke, was on the board with him, and Vernon encouraged him to become active in the Farm Credit System, a financial cooperative owned by farmer members.
In their hometown community, Ken and Angie are busy supporting the FFA programs that their grandchildren are in. Ken was on the fire district board, the Pine Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations such as Boy Scouts when Fred and Bert were younger. Angie kept busy with the area arts council. Ken was on the State of Wyoming Board of Agriculture.
John Stencel Leadership Awards: Nick Perchess and Charles Hibner
From Avondale, Colorado, Nick Perchess is a dedicated producer, tending to a dairy and raising a wide array of livestock and crops. Her journey with RMFU spans over a decade, during which she has been a steadfast member and a driving force behind the revival of the Pueblo Chapter. Nick’s dedication to our cause has taken her to the National Convention twice as a delegate. Her selflessness shines through as she has consistently provided meals at our “big weekend” events and has a reputation for caring for others, ensuring their needs are met.
Charles Hibner and his wife Verna live on their ranch in Cebolla, New Mexico. Charlie worked for decades as a soil scientist for NRCS, and has been an integral part of RMFU for many years. He has played a vital role on our policy committee, using his expertise to guide our direction, and has represented Rocky at the national level as an NFU Policy Committee member. Across agencies and interests, Charlie is a true collaborator, bringing an intersectional attitude toward addressing land issues in which we all have a stake. His Hibner Field Day – a highlight of both 2021 and 2023 – showcases his capacity and dedication to this cause.
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