HURON -- Aberdeen crop and cattle farmer Jeff Kippley was recognized by National Farmers Union during the 2020 National Convention with the Bruce Miller Award for his active involvement in state and national Farmers Union events as well as his community.
"This award recognizes individuals who demonstrate the mission and vision of Famers Union. Through his active involvement in our organization, as well as his community, Jeff lives out our focus on serving South Dakota's family farmers and ranchers," said Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director.
Kippley and his wife Rachel joined the Farmers Union when a friend invited them to attend the organization's annual Young Producers event.
"I was told about the benefits of what Farmers Union does and thought, `sure, why not'?"
From there he describes their involvement "like a seed that keeps growing."
Once he saw how the organization supported policy that supports family farmers and ranchers and helped producers like him share his story with decision makers, Kippley said he and Rachel decided to become more involved. In 2018, they attended the national organization's D.C. Fly-In.
"Right here in the Dakotas, people understand what we do as farmers. But it is becoming more and more apparent that not everyone does understand. We need to get our story out," Kippley said. "A good way to do this is by becoming involved in organizations like Farmers Union."
That same year, the couple represented South Dakota in the Farmers Union Enterprise Couples Leadership Program. The program is developed to substantiate and empower future leaders for rural America and Farmers Union through leadership, citizenship and policy development training.
At the state level, Kippley has served on the State Policy Committee and as a delegate to the National Farmers Union Convention.
"The policy side of the organization really drew my wife and I in," Kippley said. "We want to continue to make a living on the farm, so we need to have someone out there speaking our truth."
He also appreciates the opportunity to be involved with his wife.
"When we can, we like to be involved in organizations together," he said.
Together, they have four young children. As a family, they are also actively involved in the Brown County Fair. The family sponsors several events during the fair to honor Kippley's mom, Geraldine, who had served on the fair board and died in 2012, including a free pallet maize for kids; root beer float feed; watermelon feed; 4-H BBQ; and a Super Farmer Contest.
"The Brown County Fair matters. It mattered to my parents and we want to carry on the tradition that has been passed down to us," Kippley said.