Industry leaders honor Hall of Fame, Rising Star Recipients |

Industry leaders honor Hall of Fame, Rising Star Recipients

Story & Photos by Robyn Scherer, M.Agr.
Kiowa, Colo.
Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar commended the inductees on their contributions to agriculture.

Dedicating a life to agriculture is not easy. It requires countless hours, late nights and early mornings, and a passion for the industry. On February 14, industry leaders and professionals gathered in Denver, Colo., to honor three new Hall of Fame Inductees, and the Rising Star in Agriculture.

“This event highlights the accomplishments of great agricultural leaders as they are inducted into the Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame. We can learn a lot from what they have contributed to better the agriculture industry,” said Don Thorn, executive director for the Colorado FFA Foundation, which hosts the event.

The event honored Darrell Anderson of Bennett, Bette Blinde of Red Feather Lakes, and Dick Tanaka of Longmont as the Hall of Fame Inductees.

“We are proud to announce these three more outstanding individuals to be inducted and join those who have had such an impact on agriculture in Colorado,” said Dale McCall, Chairman of the Colorado FFA Foundation. “The applicant pool gets tougher and tougher each year.”

Anderson grew up in rural Nebraska and attend many years of schooling in a one room school house. In high school he became active in FFA and raising beef cattle and quarter horses. He served the U.S. Army as a surgical technician and worked in a MASH unit in Korea. After ranching in Nebraska he pursued a degree in Vocational Agriculture and obtained employment in Bennett and Lamar, Colo., as the Vo-Ag Instructor. He continued to influence vocational agriculture by serving as the State FFA Advisor and State Vocational Agriculture Supervisor. Anderson is credited with initiating the State Farm and Ranch Management program, an initial member of the State Fairs and Shows Association, and Colorado Young Farmers.

Blinde grew up in Colorado and spent several years as a public educator. After spending time with the National Western Stock Show and the Wyoming State Fair she became the Executive Director of the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture. Blinde has been the driving force behind the Agriculture in the Classroom initiative and has become known nationally for her efforts in agricultural literacy. She has continually adapted the education pieces to stay current with state education standards and the varied interest levels of student learners. One highlight of her career was recently hosting the National Ag in the Classroom Conference. Blinde also serves her community as a longtime volunteer firefighter.

Tanaka has been a farmer and a environmental steward his entire life. Born into a farming family he learned how to care for the land at an early age. After graduating high school and serving in the U.S. Army he joined his two brothers to create Tanaka Farms — one of the largest produce farms in Colorado. Tanaka is one of the most respected farmers in the western region — a tribute to his kindness, willingness to help others, and treat everyone like family. It has been said that the hardship of being a farmer can be seen on his face, you can see the love of agriculture in his eyes.

2013 marked the second year that a Colorado Rising Star in Agriculture Award was presented. The award recognizes up and coming talent and leadership in the Colorado agriculture industry. Members of the Hall of Fame will vote yearly on the winner of the Rising Star Award.

Robbie Baird LeValley of Hotchkiss was the winner of the Rising Star Award. LeValley has worked diligently to protect and promote agriculture at the local, state and national level. She has served numerous roles in CCA and NCBA and put on many schools in the areas of range management, bird conservation and direct marketing.

“The Rising Star Award has already become very competitive and is a great indicator of the quality of people we have involved in Colorado agriculture,” said McCall. “Mrs. LeValley is an excellent choice for the growing ‘Rising Star’ program.”

The Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame banquet is held in conjunction with the Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture and is a prime opportunity to gauge the direction of the industry and learn about issues facing one of the largest industries in Colorado. Both the forum and the banquet are attended by industry and political leaders as well as family farmers and ranchers who lead and support the agriculture industry and its future.

The 2013 inductees will join 74 other outstanding Colorado agriculturists who have been similarly honored since 1989. All Agriculture Hall of Fame members’ portraits are displayed in the Colorado Department of Agriculture offices and will be moved to the Center for Agricultural Education at Colorado State University upon it’s completion.

The Colorado State FFA Officers help to facilitate the event. “The FFA state officer team has a large part in making this event such a success. They set up the venue and conduct the banquet ceremony as well as facilitate presentations about the Hall of Fame inductees,” said Thorn.

During the banquet attendees can bid on silent auction items, and all proceeds from the banquet are used for FFA programs. “Benefits from the Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame aid in general operations of Colorado FFA Foundation. The foundation financially supports Colorado Ag Ed, FFA programs, and professional development for teachers,” Thorn stated.

The banquet is held yearly to induct members into the Agriculture Hall of Fame who have significantly contributed to Colorado’s second largest industry. A unique, multi-media presentation highlighted the life of each new inductee during the ceremony.

The Colorado FFA Foundation is a non-profit organization that raises funds to support the more than 5,500 FFA members in Colorado’s 100 chapters. FFA is a national organization of 506,199 members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. ❖