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Ninety-second class of Kansas Master Farmers, Master Farm Homemakers honored

Five couples from around the state recognized at a banquet in Manhattan

March 11, 2019 

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Five couples have been honored as the 2018 class of Kansas Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers in recognition of their leadership in agriculture, environmental stewardship and service to their communities. They were recognized at a banquet March 8 at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan.

The statewide award program is in its 92nd year and is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension and Kansas Farmer magazine.

Below are short biographies of each couple as well as radio profiles that aired on the Agriculture Today radio program the week of March 4-8, and the videos that were shown at the banquet.

The honorees in the Class of 2018 are:

Gary and Rebecca Hatesohl – Washington County

After graduating from Washington High School, Gary Hatesohl focused on production agriculture and carpentry at North Central Kansas Technical College in Beloit.

Since 1982, Gary has volunteered at the Greenleaf Fire Department. He has been president of the Washington County Fair Board. Also, he is a lifelong member of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, where he has been the youth group leader, congregation chairman, and church elder. In the River Valley Extension District, Gary served as a board member and volunteer.

Gary and his wife, Rebecca, were active members of 4-H and FFA. As alumni they still continue to donate their time by chaperoning trips, organizing livestock clinics and judging contests, and helping at the Washington County Fair. Their efforts earned Rebecca the Outstanding Washington County Alumni Award and gave Gary the chance to serve as president of the Kansas FFA Alumni Board.

Radio Profile - Gary and Rebecca Hatesohl

Rebecca graduated from Washburn University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She taught elementary school for 31 years and retired in 2014. As a teacher, she served as a district trainer and a member of the school district’s professional develop­ment team. Five different years she was nominated for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. Rebecca also chaperoned students to the National FBLA Convention in Georgia.

The Hatesohls’ farming operation consists of cropland and beef cattle production. Water quality is an important variable on their farm. They use terraces, waterways, and soil sampling to continually monitor water quality. Gary and Rebecca attend informational meetings held by K-State Research and Extension and seed companies to better understand technology and farming management.

Son Adam graduated from Kansas State University in 2009 with a doctorate from the College of Veterinary Medicine. He and his wife, Lindsey, have two children, Noah and Natalie.

Daughter Kelsey graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in horticulture and landscape design. She has worked for the River Valley Extension District as a horticulture agent for the past two years.




Tom and Judy McCarty – Thomas County

Tom McCarty graduated from Penn State University with a degree in agricultural education. After teaching special education for three years, he returned to his family’s dairy in Pennsylvania.

Judy McCarty earned a teaching degree from Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. She served on the Thomas County Foundation Board and volunteers at the Colby Citizens Medical Center.

When Tom purchased his father’s dairy it was 70 cows and today the operation milks 13,000 cows across five different dairies in Kansas, Nebraska, and Ohio. In the early '90s, the couple decided to relocate the dairy to northwest Kansas because of the growth opportunities that location held. They built their farm in Rexford with approximately 700 cows.

Radio Profile - Tom and Judy McCarty

During the following years, McCarty Dairy partnered with The Dannon Company. The goal of this partnership was to create an atypical cooperation that was innovative and quick growing. Soon after, a dairy in Scott City was added to their operation. In 2012, the Rexford Dairy completed a milk processing plant that was the first of its kind in the United States.

Due to their advanced practices and expansion, International Dairy Foods Association named McCarty’s operation the Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year. The dairy has also received the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development Agricultural Leader of the Year. McCarty Dairy continues to use new technolo­gies including A.I. breeding, genetic testing, cooling systems, and heath abatement systems to increase their productivity.

Son Mike owns and manages the Bird City Dairy. He and his wife, Amy, have three children, Colton, Logan, and Taylor.

Son Clay partners with his brother, Ken, to manage the dairy in Rexford. He is married to Kristy and they have three children, Paeton, Prestyn, and Kennedy.

Son Dave manages finances for all five McCarty Dairies and purchases feed commodities. He lives in northwest Kansas with his wife, Lisa, and two children, Maddie and Ellie.

Son Ken helps manage the diary in Rexford along with overseeing the milk processing plant. Ken is married to Courtney and they have three sons, Kaden, Kohen, and Krew.



James and Miriam Nelson – McPherson County

James Nelson went to Windom High School and continued his education at Kansas State University, studying agricultural economics. Before returning to his family’s farm, he worked in banking and served in the Kansas National Guard.

James is an avid learner of all things agriculture and crop related. In 2011, he attended a three-week agricultural tour of Brazil as part of No-Till on the Plains. James hosted farmers from Australia and reciprocated a visit to their operation. He served on the McPherson County Extension Council and was the director for the McPherson County Soil Conservation District.

In the Windom community, both James and Miriam are active members in church, school, government, and farm organizations. They are part of the Aid Association for Lutherans in McPherson County. James helped write a Monsato grant to build a greenhouse for the elementary school.

Radio Profile - James and Miriam Nelson

Miriam graduated from Riley County High School and Kansas State University. She worked for Phillips County Extension as a home economist for several years. Education has always been a passion of Miriam’s, and she served in multiple leadership roles for the Little River-Windom School District. Also, Miriam has been a pianist for many organizations in her community.

The Nelsons’ operation has seen many changes over the years as the farm has had a cow-calf operation, a farrow-to-finish hog system, and is now exclusively farming no-till crops. Conservation has always been a goal for their farm. Today, they use concrete struc­tures, laser scraping, windbreaks, terraces, and tram rows to preserve their farmland. Their efforts earned them an award for no-till soil conservation in 2003. The Nelsons’ farm has hosted no-till tours and regularly plants seed test plots for new varieties.

Daughter Lori Bower owns BowerComm Marketing Communications. Her husband, Derek, and two children, Mia and Ian, live on the family farm in Windom. Derek joined the farming operation in spring of 2017.

In addition to being a full-time partner on the farm, son Darren works on the engineering team at Tribune Harvester. He lives in Hutchinson with his wife, Michelle. They have three children, Kara, Dean, and Elise.



Mark and Joanne Noll – Brown County

Mark Noll graduated from Kansas State University with a master’s in swine management. After graduation, he joined his father on their livestock and crop operation. Mark is a 35-year member of St. Ann’s Knights of Columbus Council. He volunteered his time to travel with 4-Hers to state geology events. Also, Mark was part of the Brown-Nemaha County Pork Producers Board.

Joanne Noll earned a nursing degree from Marymount College in Salina. She currently trains employees in Brown County Developmental Services. Joanne served on the Hiawatha School Board and was instrumental in starting an education foundation for the district. Currently, she is a member of the North East Kansas Library Systems Executive Board.

Both Mark and Joanne share the workload on the farm. Joanne is responsible for the financial aspects and bookkeeping of the farming operation. Their operation consists of crop farming, finishing beef cattle, and a farrow-to-finish hog system. Though their main crops are corn and soybeans, they also use cover crops such as oats and rye. The Nolls have been labeled a preferred supplier by Hormel because of their high quality pigs.

Radio Profile - Mark and Joanne Noll

The fifth-generation farm family centers their practices on improvement: “We take a practical, scientific approach to farming that puts focus on quality over quantity.”

Son Michael is the program director for the Texas Writers League of Austin. He lives with his wife, Stephanie, and their two sons, Xavier and Elias, in Austin, Texas.

Son Aaron is an architect for Populace Firm. Aaron and his wife, Annie, have a son named Harrison.

Son Byron works in construction in Chicago, Illinois. He and his wife, Stacia, have one daughter named Pippa.

Daughter Anna Akuretiya teaches eighth grade social sciences. She is married to Achala Akuretiya and they have a daughter, Zuri.

Son Ethan is an agronomist for Ag Partners Cooperative and works on the family farm. Ethan and his wife, Krista, live on the farm in Hiawatha.

Son Gabriel works in the telecom division for Black and Veatch. He and his wife, Cloe, live in Overland Park.



Gary and Delores Rieck – Osage County

Gary Rieck graduated from Burlingame High School and continued his education in animal husbandry at Kansas State University. He then worked as a hog buyer for Swift and Company in Kansas City. After a year in Kansas City, he returned home to farm with his father. Gary’s passion for farming led him to hold several leadership positions. He served as president of the Kansas Swine Seminar and Kansas Young Farmers.

Both Gary and his wife, Delores, are contributing members of area farming groups. Both have been members of the Southeast Farm Management Association for 54 years. Gary has also been a county director for that organization. Delores served as president of the Kansas Young Farm Wives Association.

Delores graduated from Emporia State University with a bach­elor’s degree in business education. She furthered her education by earning a master’s degree. Delores taught at Burlingame High School and Osage City Middle School. After retiring, she continues to educate students by teaching quilting classes. Delores has presented quilting programs across Kansas and started a busi­ness for her hobby.

Radio Profile - Gary and Delores Rieck

The Riecks’ farming operation started out with 25 gilts in a farrow-to-finish system. Today, the Riecks have transitioned to feeding cattle and farming soybeans and grass hay. They also have acreage dedicated to the Conservation Reserve Program. The Goodyear Soil Conservation Award was given to the operation for their management practices. K-State Research and Extension programs, co-op crop seminars, and crop expositions help the Riecks constantly learn about practices that could improve their farm.

Son George works on statistical analysis for GPS crop mapping. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife, April, and two chil­dren, Holt and Cabe.

Daughter Gwen Hoy and her husband, Josh, operate an agri­tourism program in the Flint Hills. They have a daughter named Josie.



For more information

Sue Robinson


What are the Kansas Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker programs?

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers comprise a select growing group of nearly 400 Kansans who have been recognized for success in their agricultural operations and service to their communities. 
The Kansas Master Farmer Association and the Master Farm Homemakers Guild were formed in the late 1920s to publicly recognize excellence in farming, homemaking, farm living and rural citizenship.
In 1953, Kansas State University, through the Cooperative Extension Service, assumed responsibility for the selection process and setting up the annual banquet. Today, K-State Research and Extension and Kansas Farmer magazine co-sponsor the program.
County extension councils and extension districts nominate farm couples. The associate director for extension and applied research appoints a committee to choose one couple from each of the four extension areas in the state, plus two additional couples at large.
The two groups host an annual meeting and joint recognition banquet in the spring, where members discuss agricultural and rural issues, and share experiences with other members. This year, the meetings and banquet were Friday, March 9, at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan.  
The combined group awards a $500 4-H scholarship each year to a high school senior or college undergraduate.

In addition, donations to the Rock Springs 4-H Center by Master Farmer individuals and the organization as a whole, are reflected in various facilities and improvements made at the center's campus near Junction City, Kansas.
More information is available through the K-State Research and Extension administrative office at 785-532-5820

At a glance

Five couples have been honored as the 2018 class of Kansas Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers in recognition of their leadership in agriculture, environmental stewardship and service to their communities. They were recognized at a banquet March 8 at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan.

KSRE logo
K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the wellbeing of Kansans.
Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.