(Indianapolis, IN) - A young La Porte County couple has received one of the most prestigious agriculture-related awards in the state.
Indiana Farm Bureau selected Jacob and Jill Smoker of LaPorte County for its annual Achievement Award. According to INFB, the Achievement Award is for INFB members earning a majority of their income from production agriculture. Two panels of judges evaluate applicants on their leadership involvement and farm management techniques.
Jacob Smoker manages daily tasks like crop contracting and feed truck deliveries at Smoker Farms, which raises corn, soybeans, and cattle on about 1,400 acres near Wanatah. His wife, an art teacher at Chesterton High School, helps out by scouting, picking up parts, and running equipment.
Currently, Mr. Smoker is vice-president of the board for the Farm Bureau branch in LaPorte County. He and Jill were also representatives of the state committee for Young Farmers and Ag Professionals from 2017 to 2019. Jacob was chairman of the committee in 2019.
“We are so grateful we had that opportunity. Some of my favorite memories were from the time spent getting to know the greater ag community and connecting with them about the highs and lows that you can face on the farm,” Mrs. Smoker said.
Jacob and Jill met in high school while participating in 4-H, and both of them attended Purdue University. Mr. Smoker earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and horticultural production & marketing. Mrs. Smoker, who grew up on a farm in the northeast part of the state, received a bachelor’s degree in visual art education and a master’s degree in education. They have a four-year-old daughter and a two-year son.
No breaks appear in the chain linking the farm to the family since 1944.
“When I think about the future of the farm, I think about starting to transition from myself to my son and my daughter. It’s about growing the farm in a sustainable way and making sure they are set up to succeed when they are ready to take over the operation,” Mr. Smoker said.
The Smokers will be formally recognized during the INFB state convention in December. Then, according to INFB, they will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to compete at the American Farm Bureau annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia, in January.
The Smokers will also be given a $6,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance and 250 hours of using an M-Series Kubota tractor at no cost.