My Mentor, My Legacy: 2014 Finalist Showcase

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    Who's your mentor? Your inspiration? Just about every farmer has someone who's been a huge influence to his or her life and career in agriculture. The My Mentor, My Legacy Program seeks stories of inspiration, influence and contributions to your success on the farm. Here are a few of the finalists from the 2014 program.

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    Ethan Eck of Kingman, Kansas, took a different path to his family's farm. He left the farm for an education, then returned to work with his father and mentor Clint Eck, who was "very straightforward and fair in business," Ethan says.

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    After returning to the farm, Ethan's father helped him continue his education in the farm machinery industry at the same time -- ultimately leading to a few new tools he's invented and sold -- while working on the farm. "He supported me even when things failed, which is pretty normal when you are creating something new," Ethan says.

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    Clint Eck fought several bouts with cancer over the years, finally losing his last fight recently. "Dad was truly a great mentor who I learned so much from. I work every day now to be successful and finish the dream he and I started together," Ethan says, adding his dad helped "fellow farmers be more productive with several of my inventions under the Chem-Blade name."

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    Melvin Moths' daughter, W. Strack, nominated him for the My Mentor, My Legacy program because of his dedication not just to his family, but the waterways and land traversing his family's dairy farm near Athens, Wisconsin. "Dad was always aware of where the water would run, waterways were important to him," she says. "Always he had time to help a neighbor in need and that too stuck with me over the years."

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    Andrew Bowman nominated his father Lynn for the 2014 My Mentor, My Legacy program. Andrew says his father's been a lot more than just his dad over the years, though his family's always been a critical part of his life and work. "What makes him unique is his strategic approach, and a key part of that is his tireless devotion to the next generation," Andrew says.

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    Andrew says his father began including him in "farm decisions" at around age 12, something he's learned is critical to continuing farms like his family's. "He began by showing me what I was doing, then asking me what I thought. I remember helping with equipment, but was also part of decisions. Dad valued my input. He made me feel like a partner and taught me each generation does something for the future," he says.

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    Andrew submitted a video with his nomination for the 2014 My Mentor, My Legacy program.

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    Gary Fulmer of Alvo, Nebraska, was Jill Coble's nomination for the My Mentor, My Legacy program. But, for a different reason. "Gary Fulmer, my father, my mentor, abandoned me. On a 104-degree day, he walked a half mile from the house to the creek, sat down in the shade and committed suicide," she says. "That was nearly 15 years ago. My love for his livelihood has grown every day since then."

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    "I was only 24 when my father died. I was married and living in different state and had nothing to do with his farming operation. But the seeds of agriculture were sown in my heart," Coble says. She says that included both production and marketing aspects of the farm, things that taught her critical lessons about life. "Learn. Keep good records. Watch the markets. Honor your past and always count your blessings," she says.

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    Ned Totzke took over his family's dairy farm near Baroda, Michigan, after years of a "vicious cycle set forth by generations before him," according to Brooke Totzke, who nominated him for the My Mentor, My Legacy program. "He shares his wealth in farm assets and in family time, and along the way, he has taught us about business and finances, farming and life lessons," she says.

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    Miriam Alves Correa's mentors are her parents, Enio and Elvira Correa. They started farming in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, and sought out a farm "without electricity, a market next door, medical care or schools." They later moved to northwestern Brazil. "If we do not find what guided our parents and grandparents again, we'll go astray in the fog of confusion that currently governs Brazil," she says.

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    Anita Harmon nominated Amos Hinton to the My Mentor, My Legacy program. He's 2 years into operating the agriculture program for the Ponca Tribe in Oklahoma. "Amos started the Agriculture program with a small borrowed tractor and plow, and a determination to help the Ponca Tribe to be able to grow their gardens raise their own beef, pork and poultry."

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    "The garden produces veggies that the program donates to the senior and head start programs, as well as selling to some of the local grocery stores," Harmon says of Hinton's work. "This year we are able to plant a garden that is triple the size from last year, with twice as much produce that will be available to the elders, as well as the diabetic program, and the head start program."

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    "Our program is a success because Amos pushes for the best, because he wants the best for the Tribe," Harmon addes. "I am only one person, and know there are many that have and are continuing to learn from his teachings. He has a saying about the tribal children, that is what he strives for: Getting children involved, and being able to help them to one day be where he is at today."

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    A committment to education and the drive to instill strong values in their family made Don and Sue Ruley of Central City, Iowa, the My Mentor, My Legacy nominee for their grandson, Joe Ruley. "They both always put our needs ahead of their own," Joe says. "I could not nominate one without the other because the both played a major part in my upbringing."

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    Elizabeth Keuter gleaned some major life lessons from Amy Dillard, her high school animal science teacher and FFA adviser. "She not only sparked my interest in becoming a vet, she sparked my interest in agriculture and the cultural and social issues associated with it. Mrs. Dillard has changed lives by teaching what she loves and gets kids involved in agriculture through her classes," Keuter says.

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    Katie Enzenauer-Sereni's father Phil Enzenauer continued his family's farm and vineyard in Sonoma County, California, after returning from serving in the U.S. Navy. "We have worked side by side for 15 years and my father is now able to take some much deserved vacation/retirement time. Without him, I would not be in the farming industry, where I belong," Katie says of her father, who she nominated for the My Mentor, My Legacy program.

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    Rodney Tangeman's nominee for the program is his father, Leroy Tangeman, who's been influential to his sons' lives on the farm but now faces a serious struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. "He went through the 1980s, as many farmers did: paying high interest rates on land, doing custom work, just scraping by while he and my mom raised eight children," Rodney says. "He is the best person I know and this is why I nominate my father."

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    "He always said that coming back to the farm is not a right, it is a privilege and that I should do my best to achieve everything I can. He was always adamant about working hard in school and achieving good grades. He was instrumental in making sure I went to college and got my degree," Taylor Nelson says in describing why he nominated his father for the My Mentor, My Legacy program.

Check out the finalists from the 2014 My Mentor, My Legacy program.

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