South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB) came home with several honors from the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting held Jan. 13-15 in Nashville.  SDFB earned the American Farm Bureau’s “Navigator Award” in recognition of exceptional membership growth.  South Dakota Farm Bureau reached 106 percent of its state membership goal in 2012, the fourth highest gain in the nation.  The organization’s membership stands at 13,072 member families, an all-time record for the state.

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture also recognized SDFB with its Apex Award, earned when a state donates 10 percent more to the Foundation than during the previous year, and the Scholar Award, for making the highest financial contribution in South Dakota’s membership group

"I would like to thank all of our volunteer members and our staff who work so hard to make South Dakota Farm Bureau successful,” said Scott VanderWal, President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau and family farmer from Volga, S.D.  “Earning these awards from the American Farm Bureau is a real honor.”

"We appreciate the opportunity to serve South Dakota Farm Bureau members from all across the state,” added Wayne Smith, SDFB Executive Director.  “I’m looking forward to another successful year of helping farm, ranch, and rural families to tell the positive story of agriculture.”

Lee Kopriva of Raymond, S.D. represented South Dakota in the Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Discussion Meet after winning the state contest in November and advancing on to the national.  The YF&R Discussion Meet is a public speaking contest designed to simulate a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected from each participant ad they exchange ideas and solve problems on predetermined agricultural topics.  Kopriva advanced through two rounds of the contest, competing against other young farmers and ranchers from 40 state Farm Bureaus.  YF&R is a program for Farm Bureau members ages 18 to 35.

The winner of this year’s YF&R Discussion Meet, Dillon Kjerstad of Arizona, has South Dakota roots.  Dillon’s grandfather, the late Richard Kjerstad, was a past president of SDFB and was the winner of the national Discussion Meet in 1972.  Dillon’s parents are Jem and Kelly Kjerstad of Quinn, S.D., and grandmother is Patty Kjerstad of Wall, S.D.

To view more photos from the event, visit the SDFB page on Facebook:

South Dakota had three delegates on the floor at the AFBF Annual Meeting: Scott VanderWal, SDFB President from Volga, S.D.; Wanda Blair, SDFB Vice President from Vale, S.D.; and Janet Hurlbert, SDFB Women’s Leadership Team Vice Chair from Clark, S.D. 

The South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots organization with more than 13,000 farm, ranch and rural families in its membership.  For more information, visit