A young couple from Zell, S.D., has won the South Dakota Farm Bureau’s Achievement Award for young farmers and ranchers, part of the organization’s YF&R activities for those in agriculture ages 18 to 35. J.P. Heber and Holly Marshall-Heber won the contest held recently during SDFB’s 98th annual meeting, held in Pierre.

“The Achievement Award is a prestigious honor and one that’s well-deserved for J.P. and Holly,” commented Scott VanderWal, SDFB President, who raises crops and cattle in Brookings County. “Self-initiative is one of the major points while judging the Achievement Award, and this young couple has worked incredibly hard to grow a successful farm and livestock operation. They constantly push themselves to learn and to lead. I know they’ll do well at the national level as they continue on in the contest.”

Farm Bureau’s YF&R Achievement Award is designed to recognize those who have excelled in their farming/ranching operations and who have also shown superior leadership abilities. Contestants are evaluated on a combination of ag operation growth, financial progress, and leadership within and beyond Farm Bureau.

Holly and J.P., who own and operate M&H Land and Cattle, are actively involved in Farm Bureau through Spink County Farm Bureau, Spink County Young Farmers & Ranchers, and the South Dakota Farm Bureau. They served for several years on the SDFB Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. J.P. is a graduate of the South Dakota Ag & Rural Leadership (SDARL) program, and the couple has participated in First Dakota National Bank’s Beginning Farmer Program. The Hebers are actively involved in 4-H, FFA, their community and their church as well.

As winners at the state level, the Hebers will go on to the national Achievement Award contest to be held in January during the American Farm Bureau Federal annual meeting. There they will compete against other outstanding young farmers and ranchers from all across the United States. The AFBF annual meeting is set for Jan. 10-13 in Orlando.

South Dakota Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general agriculture organization, representing more than 16,000 farm, ranch and rural families.