Jake and Jill Smoker from LaPorte County are the winners of this year’s Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Ag Professional Achievement Award which recognizes INFB. members who earn the majority of their income from production agriculture and measures applicants on their leadership involvement and farm management techniques.
“It was a lot of work, a lot of hard work, throughout many years of being involved in Farm Bureau,” says Jake. “This is kind of the culmination of all of our years of being involved in Farm Bureau and the Young Farmers and Ag Professionals program. This award kind of condenses and combines everything that you’ve done over that career. As we transition out of being young farmers, this kind of puts a cherry on top of our time being involved.”
Jill explains what goes into the application process.
It takes going back to where you started and then looking at how you’ve progressed over the years. So, you have to have a little bit of foresight of knowing where you want to go in order to be successful with this application. For us, that meant trying to piece together where we wanted to go and having those conversations of like how do we want to expand, how are we going to keep ourselves relevant in the industry.”
Jake says they both had an interesting journey to getting into agriculture which has helped them in managing their row crop and cattle operation.
“We both come from agricultural backgrounds, but I actually spent quite a bit of time in Chicago working downtown. I was part of a global firm doing management. There was an opportunity when we got married to come back to the farm, and I knew we wanted to come back to the farm, but I didn’t know when. I was able to save enough money to get our feet kind of underneath of us and the support of our families, both of our families, to be able to come back into the operation. There is a uniqueness there- seeing the outside of agriculture completely, coming back in and starting an operation of our own. It complements what my family has been doing for four generations, but it allowed us to take it in a different direction seeing that outside management structure.
The Smokers will now compete at the Farm Bureau national convention in Atlanta next month.