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Finalists picked in statewide contest for young farmers

INDIANAPOLIS -- Finalists have been named in Indiana Farm Bureau's Young Farmer Achievement and Excellence in Agriculture contests. The winners will be announced at INFB's convention, Nov. 15-17 in Indianapolis.

Young farmers who earn a majority of their income from their farms are recognized through the Young Farmer Achievement Award. They are judged on their achievements in their farming operation and on their leadership abilities.

The Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation they own. Participants will be judged on their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

This year's Achievement Award finalists are:

Matt and Brianna Chapman, Henry County – Matt and Brianna Chapman live on the family farm near Springport with their 17-month-old daughter, Grace. Matt farms more than 3,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat with his younger brother. He also has a custom hay baling business, which he started while still in high school. Brianna owns two retail flower shops: The Flower Girl in Middletown and Weiland's Flowers in New Castle.

Craig and Mindy Fruechte, Adams County – Although both Craig and Mindy Fruechte have off-farm jobs, they farm full-time, too. They raise 24,000 turkeys and farm 581 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa. They also have a small freezer beef and hog operation from which they market meat to their urban co-workers. Their two children – Mason and Brielle – will take over the freezer meet operation when they're old enough to participate in 4-H.

Jacob and Jennifer Walker, DeKalb County – Jake came back to the farm full-time in 2008, and the family now raises corn, soybeans and wheat. They also do custom straw baling, excavating and tiling. Jake's wife, Jennifer, is a district conservationist with the NRCS. They have two children: 2 ? year-old Ryan and 1 ?-year-old Leann.

The Excellence in Agriculture finalists are:

Jeremy and Lindsay Barron, Noble County – The Barrons are growing their grain operation while working off farm. Jeremy is the financial services lead for Cargill Risk Management, helping farmers from across the country manage their risk and improve their bottom lines. Lindsay helps out with farm finances and paperwork. She also manages The Old Milk House, where she sells antiques and collectibles.

Jeff Demerly, White County – Jeff Demerly owns a business that sells Pioneer seed, crop insurance risk management and general consulting. His job involves working with farmers in the growing, evaluation and harvesting of corn, soybeans and wheat and tries to maximize their profitability. He is also the president of White County Farm Bureau. He and his wife, Jenna, have three children: Adalynn, 5, Austin, 3, and Archer, 1.

Mike and Sarah Hertsel, Elkhart County – Mike Hertsel works on a diversified grain and livestock operation where he has a variety of responsibilities including planting, making hay, maintaining equipment and taking care of the hogs and beef cattle. He and his wife, Sarah, live in Syracuse with their three young children. Sarah is primarily a homemaker but also works part time as a cosmetologist at a local salon.