Five of Eastern Idaho’s most distinguished leaders in the agriculture industry will be inducted into the 41st Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame during the annual recognition dinner March 22.
This year’s inductees are Wallace Reid of Firth, Neal Hughes of St. Anthony, Jerry Schluter of Ririe, Don Eliason of Holbrook and K. Merle Jeppesen of Rexburg.
The dinner will be held at O’Callahan’s in the Idaho Falls Shilo Inn Convention Center. A no-host social hour begins at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. The event is open to all interested persons. Tickets are $25 and can be obtained from the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce at 420 Memorial Drive or from Hall of Fame Board members. For additional information contact Karen Guilford at 208-540-1302.
“Wally” Reid of Firth is being inducted into the 2013 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for his water and land stewardship and as a man who is a catalyst for finding solutions benefiting the agriculture, grazing and conservation communities.
Reid’s grandparents homesteaded in the Blackfoot River Valley in 1870 when Idaho was still a territory. The Reid farm has been in agriculture production for 143 years. Reid takes pride in the fact that he lives on and operates part of his grandparent’s original homestead. The farm was honored as a Centennial Ranch/Farm by the State of Idaho.
Reid began farming in 1950 along side of his older brothers. The Reid brothers raised wheat, alfalfa, beets, Idaho Burbank potatoes and livestock. The Reid’s were progressive and looking for ways to improve their farming operation. When irrigation hand lines became available, the brothers “broke out” virgin land on the Presto Bench and began irrigating the new acres by pumping out of the Blackfoot River.
After starting his own farming enterprise, Reid again followed in his father’s footsteps and began raising Shorthorn/Hereford cattle. The genetics of Black Angus cattle attracted Reid’s interest. He was one of the first in the Blackfoot River Valley to begin raising Black Angus cattle and became a member of the Eastern Idaho Grazing Association. A membership he has maintained for over 60 years, with 15 years spent as the organization’s director.
While an EIGA director, Reid worked to facilitate and improve range health and forage. Along with the other directors, he advanced the idea of rotational grazing by dividing the private, State and Federal grazing lands with fences. Other practices incorporated were brush control, improving springs and watering areas for livestock and wildlife.
Reid, and his wife Marlene, farm near the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The Reid’s have developed a unique relationship with their Native American neighbors. Through their long standing friendships they have crossed cultural boundaries and helped tribal members protect and preserve petroglyphs in the Blackfoot River Valley. The couple has also made hundreds of presentations in Eastern Idaho classrooms and libraries about the Shoshone Bannock culture, history and way of life.
Hughes of St. Anthony is being inducted into the 2013 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions to conservation, community involvement and as a spokesman for agriculture.
Hughes has been involved with soil and water conservation efforts in Fremont County as a supervisor with the Yellowstone Soil Conservation District for over 30 years. He has been instrumental in securing five state funded soil and water conservation projects aimed at controlling erosion in Fremont County.
Hughes grew up in a farming family and knew from an early age he wanted to be a farmer. Through the years he leased or purchased land on which he grew potatoes, grain and later added 300 head of cattle to his operation.
When the Teton Dam broke on June 5, 1976, Hughes’ life and farming operation was changed forever. In a matter of minutes, his farm ground, equipment and livestock was washed away by the flood waters.
Seeing a great deal of work needing to be done to restore the farm ground, Hughes purchased heavy duty equipment and went to work on cleanup and leveling of the newly destroyed ground. Following the flood, Hughes moved forward by purchasing new farm ground, equipment and was one of the first in his area to install pivot irrigation systems. New cellars were built and Hughes Farms, Inc., was created.
Hughes is also among the first producers in his area to install water and sediment control basins aimed at controlling erosion on his farm ground. He was also a pioneer in improving irrigation systems on his farm ground by installing center pivots.
Hughes also has a long list of civic involvement including numerous years on the St. Anthony Chamber of Commerce, South Fremont Hospital Board and two terms as Fremont County Commissioner.
Schluter of Ririe is being inducted into the 2013 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for his extensive contributions to agriculture and community.
Having farmed for over 60 years, Schluter operates over 3,000 acres of ground located in the Birch Creek area. Although much of his farm has been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, he still spends many hours in the field spraying or doing whatever to make his ground look immaculate.
One of the areas in which Schluter has made a great contribution is his involvement with youth in the Ririe area. As a volunteer, Schluter worked for many years as the FFA advisor and as the golf coach at Ririe High School. He has provided a very positive influence to the area youth mentoring them and encouraging them to be involved with agriculture to keep the industry strong. He has also coached basketball, baseball and donated parking access for snowmobilers and recreationalists.
Schluter has received many awards, including the Conservationist of the Year by the East Side Soil and Water Conservation District. This recognition was given for Schluter’s stewardship of the land. Recently, he enrolled 200 acres in the Sharp Tail Habitat program, disking the field himself, just prior to having surgery. He has also been honored by the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game for putting his farm in the “Access Yes” Program.
As a dry farm operator, Schluter is considered to be a great conservator of the land as he has shared his ideas with other farmers making direct contributions to their conservation efforts.
Eliason of Holbrook will be inducted into the 2013 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for his successful contributions to ranching, crop production and community involvement.
Although he would rather be known as a cowman, Eliason has raised barley, corn and nearly enough hay to provide for his large cow and calf operation. Through natural breeding and artificial insemination, Eliason maintains a herd of 800 Black Angus cows. Summer range includes Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service ground. The cattle are transported by Eliason’s own trucking operation.
Perhaps Eliason’s greatest contribution to agriculture is the example he has set for future generations. This hard working cowboy can still be found riding his horse while working the cows. He actively participates in cutting, roping and branding activities on his ranch. In his early eighties, he is still known to compete in team roping and cow cutting events.
Active in the Holbrook community, Eliason is president of the Curlew Horse and Cattle Association. He has also been instrumental in organizing and serving with the Oneida Search and Rescue for 20 years, a member of the Oneida County Library Board for 27 years and a member of the Curlew Valley Rodeo Board for 50 years.
Eliason also helped organize, and after 37 years continues to participate with, the Malad Valley Community Chorus.
K. Merle Jeppesen
Jeppesen of Rexburg, will be inducted into the 2013 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for his efforts to improve agriculture and community service.
To get his start in farming, Jeppesen rented 80 acres of production land from his father. The next few years were spent acquiring acres of his own, installing sprinkler systems, building potato cellars and building over 100 mini dams to slow down snow melt and other running water on his hilly ground. He worked his land with his minimum tillage farming methods and returned all possible organic matter back into the soil.
Jeppesen’s farm became a “test farm” for new farming methods being taught at Ricks College. In 1970, at the age of 34, Jeppesen received the Outstanding Young Farmer award in recognition of exceptional progress in agriculture and contributions to the community of Rexburg. In 1982 he received the Outstanding Agriculturist Award presented by the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce, in recognition for achievement in marketing, production and innovation.
Jeppesen also served two terms on the Farmers Home Administration Board making loans to local farmers. He served 18 years on the Madison Co-op Board, ten of those as Chairman. During that time sales went from under one million to over 16 million dollars per year. He served on the Eastern Oregon-Idaho Potato Committee for eight years, serving as chairman for four years. He has also been a member of the Ricks College Booster Club, Alumni Board and has been very involved with the Scouting programs within Madison County.