Meet the Volunteers

Fred O'Connor - Union. Ohio.

Fred lives in Union, Ohio about 15 Miles North of Dayton as a computer hardware technician for a retail clothing chain.  His daily duties are to maintain computer servers, phone systems, printers and cash register systems.  Fred also volunteers at a nearly 3,000 acre farm helping keep machinery repaired and in operation.

His brother, who is going to be a new Farm Rescue Volunteer, is a pilot for UPS introduced him to Farm Rescue.

Fred recently volunteered on many locations planting this spring, but his favorite memory was in Thief River Falls, MN helping plant Soybeans for Dennis and Sharon McCullough.  The thankfulness and joy the family felt from Farm Rescue assistance and getting to know the volunteers was a memory to last a lifetime.

John & Carol Andrews, Waukesha, WI

John and Carol Andrews hail from Waukesha, WI and recently volunteered for Farm Rescue during Planting Season 2015.  John is a retired police officer / supervisor and Carol was a homemaker and a chiropractic assistant.

Paul Harvey talked about Farm Rescue on his radio show and we just wanted to get involved.  Carol grew up in a small town and John worked in the fields for a canning company during his summers off from college.

Not having a lot of experience in farming, but they were both somehow just drawn to help others who were in need of help.  

Both John and Carol take away the memories of the faces they met, the joy and sometimes tears of the farm families they helped.  This gave them both a great feeling of joy.

 

Thank you both John and Carol for your service to Farm Rescue as well as the great families we serve.

Andy Freepons, Prosser Washington.

My hometown is Prosser, Washington

I read about farm rescue in the Farm Journal several years ago. Has always been in the back of my mind since.

Farm rescue has been in the back of my mind since I saw the article. This year circumstances allowed me to volunteer so I signed up and was called. As a Christian I am called to serve. In 1 Peter 4:10 it says, "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God". I have been given gifts and the opportunity that have allowed me to serve others through farm rescue.

I grew up on a farm. My father farmed 160 acres of juice grapes for Welches and Ocean Spray. He also owns an excavation company in which we remove orchards and vineyards during the winter. Here I run excavators,  bulldozers, lowboy, and scrapers. During the summer months I work for a neighbor running tractor and combine farming 4000+/- acres of mostly soft white wheat.

My favorite memory of this experience had been the people. I could not ask to work with and for better more compassionate people. That has truly been a blessing.


Keith and Sharon Barkema, Klemme, Iowa

Keith and Sharon Barkema are relatively new to Farm Rescue, but no stranger to farming, ranching and trucking.  Keith has provided his truck repair expertise in helping keep the Farm Rescue fleet safe and in good repair for our volunteers.  Welcome Keith and Sharon to Farm Rescue and continuing the efforts to assist our family farmers in times of need.

Q: What is your hometown/state?
A:  Goodell, Iowa
 
Q: How long have you volunteered with Farm Rescue?
A: We started around Memorial Day this past spring.  We traveled to Boone to help put up hay during this first haying season.
 
Q:  What prompted you to join the organization?
A: I've often seen articles about Farm Rescue in the local newspapers as well as farming magazines, then last fall, while driving down the highway, we saw some of the Farm Rescue equipment out working in the fields.  After getting home, I went on the computer and saw for myself what Farm Rescue was doing and what current cases they were working.    I've had much experience putting up hay and decided to get involved.
 
Q:    What is your work/career background?
A: We are farmers / ranchers / and truck drivers.  We'd built up a fleet of 9 semi tractor trailers and were busy hauling seed.  Sharon and I decided to downsize and free up some time to enjoy life.  We'd always worked on our own trucks and enjoy helping keep the Farm Rescue fleet up and running.  
 
Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory? 
A:  Our favorite moment with Farm Rescue so far is the one case we've worked.  Helping the case farmer put up hay and assist them and getting to know the family was very enjoyable for us.  We hope to do more as the years go by.

A huge thank you to both Keith and Sharon Barkema for being so willing to help Farm Rescue with both volunteering on farm cases, but providing both mechanical support for the fleet, but also, Sharon working the Farm Rescue booth during the Clay County Fair in Spencer, IA.

William Rudolphi from Champaign, IL

Will Rudolphi is a soft spoken man with a heart to help others. Will brought his "Can Do" attitude with him after a career in Naval Aviation as well as commercial airline pilot experience. More about Will below.

Q: What is your hometown/state?
A: Champaign, IL

Q: How long have you volunteered with Farm Rescue?
A: This is my 3rd year as a Farm Rescue Volunteer

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: I was driving across North Dakota 4 years ago and I heard an interview with Bill Gross playing on the radio. I made a note of the information and made a call asking how I could get involved.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I was a Navy Instructor Pilot in Pensacola, FL and a commercial airline pilot for American Airlines for 30 years. I also have a daughter who is a pilot for American Airlines, and two daughters who enjoy careers as flight attendants with Alaska Airlines.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: My last case this year was my most favorite memory with Farm Rescue so far. The Dahlin family in Chester, MT. I received much satisfaction in knowing that I was helping a very deserving and thankful farm family. Helping the Dahlin's gave me a lot of pride; they were a very deserving family going through a rough time, both physically and emotionally. The family was able to keep working going during a challenging time which gave them peace of mind. As a volunteer, my work keeps progress going which can be the most valuable gift I could give. I feel that is the most important thing we can do!

Thank you Will for being such a great volunteer and helping our great family farmers in a very difficult time!

Garry Deckert from Arena, North Dakota

Garry Deckert brings a vast knowledge of the trucking industry with him as a Farm Rescue volunteer, and he is always more than willing to share his wisdom. Thanks, Garry!

Q: What is your hometown/state?
A: I am from Arena, North Dakota.

Q: How long have you volunteered with Farm Rescue?
A: I started volunteering during harvest in 2012.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: Pete Von Bank was at an Ag show and told me that Farm Rescue needed CDL drivers.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I drove truck for 40 years.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: My favorite moment is how appreciative the family is when Farm Rescue is finished.

Bob Breitag from West Bend, Wisconsin

Bob Breitag just started as a volunteer, but we are pretty sure that we will be seeing him for years to come! Welcome aboard, Bob!

Q: What is your hometown/state?
A: I am from West Bend, Wisconsin.

Q: How long have you volunteered with Farm Rescue?
A: Spring 2013 was my first time volunteering

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: I have been watching the Farm Rescue website for several years and thought this was a great idea to give back to the most important business on earth: agriculture. Also, helping farmers in need was ingrained in me when I lost a cousin to a silo gas accident.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: In May 2013, I retired after 37 years of working for the USDA Meat Inspection and the Animal Plant Health Inspection Services of Veterinary Services working in 16 different states and 2 foreign countries with animal health/compliance issues.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: Even though this spring was very challenging for most farmers due to weather conditions and my time was cut short due to weather issues, the ability to help several farm families in North Dakota was very satisfying and brought back the thought of my late cousin.

John Wiebener from Edgewood, New Mexico

John Wiebener comes to Farm Rescue from New Mexico. This was his first spring volunteering, and we are super excited to have him join the Farm Rescue family!

Q: What is your hometown/state?
A: I was born and raised near Alva, OK, but now live in Edgewood, NM.

Q: How long have you volunteered with Farm Rescue?
A: This was my first time volunteering.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: I grew up on a farm, worked the farm my entire life helping my uncle and my father. I had a full military career and now work for FedEx, but farming never left my heart, my body, or my soul. My father retired this year and it’s now a time in my life I want to give back for all that I have been blessed to receive. So Farm Rescue allows me to give back to the community while doing something that I love to do and is deep within my soul!!

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: As stated above, I have farmed part-time (helping the family) my entire life. Served 21 years in the Air Force as an A-10 and F-16 fighter pilot. Am a combat veteran from Desert Storm and retired as a Fighter Squadron Commander. 2nd career is with FedEx as a pilot, currently on the Boeing 777 Freighter as an international pilot.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: This was a 3 generation farm with Grandpa, Dad, and Son. When we were finished and were cleaning up the equipment – Grandpa gathered us up and proceeded to thank us gratefully for the job we had done rescuing his son and their farm. He was to the point of trembling and crying as he was so overjoyed that a crop was in, the pressure was off his son, and they could now spend more time with his grandson (still in the hospital).

Watching this proud man, who began his homestead many years before and passed it down to his son, thank us for what we do and what our organization stands for may be the PROUDEST moment of my life. It sure made me realize what I was doing was the “right thing for the right reason” and that any time I could volunteer to help these American families, pales in significance to what they might be going through.

Rodney Eckroth from Bismarck, North Dakota

Rod comes to Farm Rescue with a wealth of knowledge gleaned from his 35 years of working as a maintenance technician and supervisor at the Minnkota Power Cooperative! Thanks Rod!

Q: What is your hometown/state?
A: I grew up on a ranch near Flasher, ND

Q: How long have you volunteered with Farm Rescue?
A: This will be my second season as a Farm Rescue volunteer

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: I decided to become a volunteer when Farm Rescue helped some farmer friends. I was also very impressed by a presentation that Bill made at a NDAREC annual meeting. I was retired and decided to use my skills as a volunteer.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I worked for the Minnkota Power Cooperative at the Milton R Young Generating Station at Center, ND, for 35 years. During that time, I worked in the maintenance department and retired as the maintenance supervisor.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: My favorite memory is volunteering at a farm near Flasher, ND, and getting to catch up with all of the people in the area.

Sherry Schaefer from Greenville, Illinois

Sherry is one of the most interesting and capable individuals to ever join Farm Rescue as a volunteer. She is not only the owner and editor of two magazines (Heritage Iron and Oliver Heritage), she is a fundraiser, board member, semi-driver, combine operator and software instructor for Farm Rescue! She helps us in almost every aspect of our operations! She volunteers her time to Farm Rescue and is always concerned in helping other people more than herself. Sherry loves to bring smiles to other people and is the ultimate motivational person helping people through tough times. Sherry is a one-of-a-kind person. THANK YOU SHERRY SCHAEFER !

Hometown/State
A: Greenville, Illinois

Q: How long have you volunteered with Farm Rescue?
A: 2 years.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: As a business owner, I was looking for a truly helpful non-profit organization whom I could donate to financially. I initially became involved as a sponsor, but as a “hands-on” person, I wanted to do more so I’ve been assisting as a volunteer in the field as well.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I spent about 18 years driving a semi and operating tractor pulling sleds across the country. Currently I own a publishing company that produces two different tractor magazines: Heritage Iron and Oliver Heritage.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: It would be hard to narrow it down to just one. From working in the field to meeting a family that we have assisted, every minute spent with Farm Rescue creates a precious memory.

Jack Rutledge from Peachtree City, Georgia

Watch Jack Rutledge in action

Jack Rutledge is always eager to learn and loves developing new training procedures to make our operations run smoother. He is a wonderful volunteer with a compassionate heart and strong drive to help other people. Jack pays attention to detail and puts his knowledge to good use through his experience as an instructor. He is a learning machine and quickly masters new challenges. THANK YOU JACK RUTLEDGE !!!

Hometown/State
A: Peachtree City, Georgia

Q: How long have you volunteered with Farm Rescue?
A: 2012 both planting and harvest was my first year.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: Benevolence of the organization, leadership, work environment.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: Trained firefighters for 20 years (Illinois Fire Service Institute) and worked developing pilot training programs and investigating "incidents" at Delta Air Lines.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: The look of relief on the faces of the families when we finished is truly priceless. I also met some wonderful people throughout the Midwest.

Levi & Carol Weilenga from Sioux City, Iowa

Here at Farm Rescue, we love our cowboys, and Levi Weilenga is no exception. He wears a cowboy hat and giant belt buckle in every picture we have of him in addition to sunglasses and a cross around his neck.

Actually, we got a two-for-one when Levi came on board. His wife, Carol volunteers alongside him in the field.

This capable couple can drive tractors, combines, semi trucks, and much more. Both Carol and Levi have their CDLs. They make a strong team together and are anxious to get to work right away.

Levi and Carol actively seek ways to help improve the lives of others. They are a happy family with a lovable baby boy.

One of the first things you notice about Levi is his faith. Before he hangs up on the phone, he always cheerfully ends his conversations with “God bless!” Thank you Levi and Carol for being such a blessing to Farm Rescue and families we assist.

Hometown/State
A: Levi - Sioux Center, Iowa / Carol - Corsica, South Dakota

Q: How long have you volunteered with Farm Rescue?
A: Since the spring of 2011.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: My brother found an article in American Profile and said it was right up my ally. I fell in love immediately with the organization. I love to serve god and serve people and farm rescue is a great opportunity to serve others. I’m very thankful that farm rescue gives volunteers such a great opportunity to serve.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I grew up on the family farm and I love farming with all of my heart but I love the railroad a little bit more. I’m on my 9th year at BNSF railroad.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: It would be a collection of spending time with my wife and our son. It’s great to see my wife drive truck and combine. It makes me smile to get to do this with my family. Lincoln is our little guy. He is 11 months old. He rides in the car seat or in the bumbo seat on the combine. He loves the combine.

Jay Schepp from Bismarck, North Dakota

Jay Schepp is a hard working volunteer for Farm Rescue. He not only loves to operate all the equipment during planting and harvesting, he is constantly looking for new sponsor opportunities and fundraising activities. He is 100% Farm Rescue !

Jay goes above and beyond by recruiting new volunteers, manning farm show booths and taking our pickup trucks through parades in the summer to help raise awareness. He always looking for ways to help. THANK YOU JAY !!!

Hometown/State
A: Westhope, ND and currently live in Bismarck, ND.

Q: How long have you volunteered with Farm Rescue?
A: Since October of 2010.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: Growing up in a small town, the best summer job was working on a farm. I worked on a couple different farms for nine summers through high school and college. Farming was in my blood after this. After seeing a news story on TV about Farm Rescue, I went to Youtube and watched several videos about the organization and the people that they helped over the years. With my love for farming, I felt that this would be a great way for me to get the opportunity to do something that I love doing and help people at the same time.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: After graduating from college, I went to work for EMC Insurance Company in Bismarck, ND as an Underwriter. I have been with the company for 23 years.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: When volunteering for Farm Rescue, every case that you help out is memorable.

Shaun Sipma from Minot, North Dakota

It’s no secret, television news anchor and reporter, Shaun Sipma is kind of a big deal to Farm Rescue. Shaun is a cheerful person with a “can do” attitude. As a talented news reporter, Sipma presents news in a creative and professional fashion. I guess you could say he makes more headlines than a corduroy pillow! (Get it?)

Shaun is a very outgoing individual with a distinct “news reporter voice.” He’s smart, hard-working, optimistic, and always looking for ways to help people. That means he’s a fantastic fit for volunteering at Farm Rescue. Thank you, Shaun, for helping Farm Rescue both in the field and on the air!

Hometown/State
A: Bowman, North Dakota
 
Q: How long have you been a volunteer with Farm Rescue?
A: I've been volunteering for Farm Rescue since its' inception in 2006.   Most of my work has been behind the scene's with video production, producing and editing the Farm Rescue Public Service Announcements and other video projects.  In 2008 I volunteered to help with spring planting for Farm Rescue near Rugby, ND and then again for harvest this past fall near Regent, ND.
 
Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: I met Bill Gross in 2006 as he was making the first big media push announcing Farm Rescue as a new, volunteer driven, organization who's mission was to help family farms going through a one time crisis.  After covering the stories that spring we began to collaborate on a series of TV promotions to get the word out about Farm Rescue.  It wasn't a difficult decision to join the efforts of Farm Rescue. The work Farm Rescue was doing was making a real difference to Farm Families and delivering hope to the entire farming community.
 
Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I am a television news anchor and reporter for KXMC-TV (KX News Minot).  I've been a journalist for 14 years and have been the Farm Director for KX News Minot since 2000.  Growing up in southwest North Dakota I spent much time working on our family's farm and developed a good understanding of agriculture.  My passion for farming and ranching continues to grow through my work at the television covering the important issues that are pertinent to the industry.
 
Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: My favorite Farm Rescue moment came this year when I went to Jorstad farm to help Harvest.  I hadn't driven a combine in many years and the equipment that I had run years ago was nowhere as sophisticated as the RDO Sponsored John Deere.  I did some training at a local dealership before I traveled to southwest North Dakota and did more training with JR (Jack Rutledge) before I solo'd it behind the wheel.  I met some amazing people while I was helping harvest and that made the experience that much more special.  Each trip to visit with, report on, or help Farm Rescue is an enjoyable moment and I can't wait for the next call!

Tyler Lautenschlager from Bismarck, North Dakota

Watch Tyler in Action

This paramedic has been a regular lifesaver for Farm Rescue. Everyone enjoys volunteering with Tyler. He’s easy to work with and easy to talk to. He’s also a well-rounded conversationalist. It’s impossible to be bored around Tyler. He’s as entertaining as he is helpful.

Tyler is very knowledgeable in the field. He is a whiz at all of the calibrations, gps, and everything else related to computer work with the equipment. We love this confident, cooperative, caring volunteer. Thank you, Tyler for being a valuable part of Farm Rescue.

Hometown/State
A: Watford city, ND

Q: How long have you been a volunteer with Farm Rescue?
A: Since 2009

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: Farm Rescue helped Dustin Lien who is a good friend of mine.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: Been an EMS since I was in high school. I’ve been doing it ever since. I’ve been working as a paramedic in the western part of the state in Watford City and Medora.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: The arrival at a farm and the first time the family is able to see the equipment. You can see relief in their eyes as they know that help is here. That is the coolest moment.

Kenneth Chyle from Auburn, Kentucky

Kenneth Chyle

Kenneth Chyle is the personification of southern charm. Ken is a well-mannered southern beau. He's also an engaging conversationalist. Between his talent to tell a good story and his great accent, he's sure to captivate his listeners.

Ken has a giant heart. His compassion has led him to lovingly care for an abandoned graveyard. Ken has dedicated much of his free time to clean away the weeds and trees that have overgrown the cemetery.

This southern gentlemen, also deeply respects people who are alive. That's why he's helping plant crops for farmers in crisis through Farm Rescue. We love you, Kenneth, and your wonderful southern accent!

Hometown/State
A: Kenneth Chyle Auburn, KY

Q: How long have you been a volunteer with Farm Rescue?
A: I applied last year (2011) but couldn’t actively participate until this April (due to last year’s rainy season).

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: I read about Farm Rescue in a farming magazine. It sounded like a great organization. I feel like I’m at the point in my life where I can give back so I thought I’d start here.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I’ve farmed all my life. I retired in 2007 and put my farm in a government program. I sowed it down in native grass and wild flowers and used filter scripts to help bring wild life back and clean up water tables.

I went back to college at the age of 52 while still actively farming. I recently graduated in business management. I have three grown daughters. I’m also a private pilot.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: Everything I’ve done for Farm Rescue has been just an experience within itself. I’ve enjoyed working with the seasoned volunteers and hopefully in time will be as much of an asset to Farm Rescue as they are.

Randy Weaver from Shelbyville, Kentucky

Randy Weaver

Even before you hear his deep voice, you can tell that Randy is a real man’s man. He’s known for his great hiking trips and his appreciation for everything outdoors. Randy also has a very green thumb. He has a fantastic garden.

Randy volunteers alongside his father, Dick Weaver, and his uncle, Bill Weaver. These guys comprise a powerful volunteer triumvirate for Farm Rescue.

Bill and Dick are 2 of 3 brothers who grew up on a farm in north western Pennsylvania.

When Dick Weaver grew up, he joined the air force as an aircraft mechanic. Later, he began working for airlines. He worked at U.S. Airways in management for over 30 years. He is now retired and lives in Mars, Pennsylvania.

Bill Weaver joined the army as a mechanic. After the army, he moved back home to Clarion, Pennsylvania and became a dairy farmer. He is retired now but still runs a farm equipment mechanic shop from his home.

Between his father who is a skilled technical mechanic, and his experienced implement mechanic uncle, Randy’s team keeps everything running smoothly in the field.

Being a UPS pilot, Randy is extremely tech-savvy. He’s a real Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to calibrating the air seeder for Farm Rescue operations.

Not only is Randy good at outdoor adventures and technology, this down-to-earth guy has great people skills. Everyone likes Randy. He’s funny, caring, and fun to be around. His dad and uncle are equally amazing.

Thank you, Randy, Dick, and Bill for your commitment to Farm Rescue. We couldn’t ask for better friends!

Hometown/State
A: I was raised in Wexford, PA which is just north of Pittsburgh. I now live on a small horse farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky with my wife and three daughters ages 10, 12 and 14.

Q: How long have you been a volunteer with Farm Rescue?
A: This spring (2012) will be my 5th year.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: I flew on a trip with Bill Gross and he told me about Farm Rescue. So, I called my dad, Dick Weaver, and his brother Bill (my Uncle Bill) and we all have been coming ever since.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I'm a 767 Captain for UPS.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: I have met so many great people it’s hard to say what would be a favorite memory. Every year I look forward to hooking up with my Dad and Uncle and heading north for an always different and rewarding adventure. I guess I never realized how good it makes you feel to be able to help people. Farmers are proud people it’s hard for them to even think of asking for help. When you roll into a new case and are greeted with smiles and roll out with hugs and tears, you know it mattered. That's an awesome gift to be able to share with your Dad.

Dave Hertel from Chandler, AZ

Dave Hertel

Watch Dave in Action

Choosing Dave Hertel for our team was a no-brainer. This intelligent, farm-loving character might seem quiet at first, but once you get to know him you find out that he’s a great conversationalist.

Dave is ambitious...very, VERY, ambitious! He works at Intel, and has a passion for real estate. He believes in ongoing education, and seems to always be learning about something extraordinary. His wife, is also well educated.

Even with all of his brains, Dave understands the importance of following his heart. He cares a lot about people. His calm demeanor relaxes those around him. He’s fun and easy to be around.

Thank you, Dave, for your commitment to helping farm families. You are well loved and appreciated!

Hometown/State
A: I was born & raised in the small town Clay Center, Nebraska.

Q: How long have you been a volunteer with Farm Rescue?
A: 1 year. I contacted FR in spring 2011 and worked 1 week during spring 2011 planting. I had intended to return for a 2nd week in fall 2011 but schedules didn’t work out. In 2012, I am intent on working 2 weeks – again, 1 week in spring & 1 week in fall.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: I was raised in the mid-west and always was involved in agriculture & farming in various ways. The son of a Grade-A Dairy farmer, I was involved in 4H and farming, raised with a strong work ethic with my parents instilling good, whole-hearted values, including a desire to help others.

My career carried me off to the city but my heart for the small town farming culture has never left me. Nor has my interest in driving large farm equipment such as what I operated as a teen & in college putting up hay on haybuster stackers.

In addition, my employer - Intel Corporation - supports many volunteer activities that benefit the community. They support employees that have a passionate heart in many ways. For me, Farm Rescue is a WIN-WIN-WIN – I get back to my Midwest roots, I get to help others, my employer supports it and gives back to FR as a 501c non-profit, families are assisted and Farm Rescue’s mission is supported. As a bonus, since I live in Arizona the opportunity to get out of the heat during May and August is a welcome relief too!

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: The farming culture is near to my heart but I’ve spent 25 years in the city. I’ve spent those years in corporate jobs in Information Technology jobs for Intel, Honeywell and Reuters and as such have had no opportunity to participate in farming.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: While I enjoy all my time with Farm Rescue, my first day and hours were memorable. That first day I woke up in a suburban Arizona city got on a plane to Bismarck, drove to S. Dakota and by 6pm, I was sitting in a huge John Deere, planting wheat on a Saturday night in the Midwest. I was loving it – thrilled to get back on a huge JD tractor & rig, helping out a farmer that needed assistance getting his dry land wheat in while he recovered from cancer treatments. I went from city life to farming life in 10 hours and farmed until dusk. Heaven!

Pete Von Bank from Washburn, ND

Pete Von Bank

Pete Von Bank is deemed to Farm Rescue as one of our top notch volunteers. He’s one of our strongest supporters and takes pride in promoting the efforts of Farm Rescue.

Pete puts his CDL to good use by driving the semi truck for Farm Rescue. He not only drives it, he takes thoughtful and meticulous effort to improve the vehicle. He makes sure the inside is spotless, and as a talented handyman, Pete also enhances the semi’s performance!

Pete Von Bank is an excellent welder. He’s just as good at welding as he is with fusing dreams into the hearts of families he’s helped. Thank you, Pete, for your big heart and iron will to help America’s farm families!

Q: How long have you been a volunteer with Farm Rescue?
A: This is my third year.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A:My friend Louie Rothmann (also a volunteer) told me about Farm Rescue. I wanted my CDL after I retired.

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: Construction of power plants in the North Dakota area and around the United States.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: The look of gratitude and relief on the faces of families when you pull in with the combine.

Andrew Wittenburg from Florence, Oregon

Andrew Wittenburg

Andy Wittenburg, a down-to-earth pastor, is not only great at tending his flock; he’s fantastic with a combine! If a combine needs hauling, operating, or fixing, Andy’s the man for the job. He’s an enthusiastic volunteer who likes to get after things and work, work, work.

His jovial spirit and good nature make him instantly likeable to anyone who meets him. Andy is brimful of wisdom and good humor. A person just feels good after encountering such a lovable man. He is as inspirational as he is capable.

Thank you, Andy, for being such a blessing to Farm Rescue. You are truly appreciated!

Q: How long have you been a volunteer with Farm Rescue?
A: Two Years

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: I enjoy farming and helping people. Farm Rescue allows me to do both at the same time. I consider it getting my "farming fix," and only those who grew up on a farm loving it can understand it, but for me it is a lot of fun!

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I grew up on a family farm in Iowa, and I farmed for ten years after graduating from High School. I then chose to go to Walla Walla College near Walla Walla, Washington because they had a farm where I could continue to enjoy farming and work my way through school. I am now a pastor but I rarely pass up an opportunity to get back on a farm and do some farming.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment/memory?
A: It occurs when we complete each case: We, the Farm Rescue Volunteers, feel really good about completing the job and having helped out the farm family, and the farm family overflows with appreciation for what we have done. It is something that cannot be replaced by anything else that I know of, and words fall quite short of adequately describing it.

Dale Lamphere of Canajoharie, New York

Randi Lamphere wanted to give her husband an experience of a lifetime birthday gift. They live in Canajoharie, New York and heard of a nonprofit organization called Farm Rescue while attending a farm show in Syracuse. Randi immediately knew it would be the perfect birthday experience for Dale. It would be an adventure of helping people and farming. Could it get any better for someone raised on a family farm? It is a story that is repeated every year by the goodhearted, gracious volunteers of Farm Rescue. Dale is already planning his volunteer trip for next year.

Q: Career/Work Background
A: I grew up and worked on the family farm until 1976. After that, I worked on various farms while working full time for Beach Nut Cereal. I am currently employed by the NYS Department of Transportation. I help a friend out on his dairy farm evenings and weekends.

Q: What Prompted you to Join Farm Rescue
A: We found out about Farm Rescue while at a Farm Show at the NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY. I like the idea of helping those in need and figured this would be a good fit for me. Farming and helping.

Q: Favorite Farm Rescue Memory
A: My favorite memory is attending the banquet and meeting other volunteers. Meeting and getting to know some of the families that Farm Rescue has helped was a definite highlight. I also really enjoyed working with Louie and Dave. Both are great guys and I look forward to working with them again.

Clarence Kuss: Farm Rescue's MacGyver

Every organization should be so lucky to have a top-notch mechanic in its ranks. Give Clarence Kuss a piece of metal (even a paperclip) and a problem to solve, and he'll weld a tool together that is worthy of a patent... he'll even paint it a nice John Deere green.

Our MacGyver is a quiet, unassuming man will a gentle demeanor and a smile that lights up a room. Thank you, Clarence, for being a good and faithful volunteer and for having a heart of gold!

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I work for Duratech, a farm machine manufacturing company in Jamestown, that makes Haybuster equipment. I have worked for Duratech for over 35 years.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: The love of farming and the satisfaction of helping others.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment or memory?
A: When Bill Gross took the time to help me learn to run the tractor and grain drill.

Becca Bohnsack: Graphic Designer Extraordinaire

For as many volunteers as we have in the field, Farm Rescue is fortunate to have some terrific volunteers out of the field. Chief among them are Becca Bohnsack and Pam Culver of La Crosse, WI. Together, they make up the dynamic duo of Gathering Waters Design, a marketing and graphics design company owned by Pam that specializes in agriculture. The company is among Farm Rescue's most important in-kind sponsors as they donate their time and talents to our cause.

With an eye for flare, Becca designed Farm Rescue's first annual brochure and subsequent brochures, as well as many other promotional items. If it looks good, it was designed by Becca!

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I grew up on a farm in southern Iowa. Pam spent many years working for agricultural companies before starting Gathering Waters Design.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: A client of ours, Kussmaul Seeds, is a Farm Rescue sponsor and told us about the organization.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment or memory?
A: I enjoy reading about all the people that the organization has helped.

Chad Hansen of Anchorage, AK

Meet the Volunteers

Chad Hansen grew up on a farm in the Big Sky Country of Highwood, MT. His willingness to help others is as big as the sky in which he now makes a living as a pilot for UPS Airlines.

For two planting seasons, Chad has traded the inside of a cockpit for the inside of a tractor cab... traveling from Alaska at his own expense to volunteer for Farm Rescue. Strong and reliable, Chad is quick to say he receives more than he gives when helping farm families.

Thank you, Chad, for your commitment to Farm Rescue and the many fields you have planted on our behalf. Read more about Chad below... his own words give great insight into the man he is!

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: I am a pilot for UPS.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: Growing up on a farm in Montana, it's nearly automatic to lend a hand and help a neighbor. Sometimes you have the resources and sometimes you don't. Farm Rescue has a lot of neighbors, and all its members and supporters supply the means by which I can lend a hand. All I had to do was show up. So I did.

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment or memory?
A: Each family and case we attend to hold specific memories for me. The personalities, attitudes and strength of those who find themselves at a sudden, unforeseen disadvantage are truly remarkable. As is often the case in these types of instances, those giving aid receive more than the balance in return. But I would have to say that working with Smokey Wright stands out. He's a true salt of the earth. We had to replace a fuel filter one day while transporting the tractor. Within minutes, perfect strangers were eager to help. We were back on the road in no time. But that is how it goes when you hang around Smokey. Even the worst problems make you smile. I suspect he does that for a lot of folks.

The Limkes: Farm Rescue's First Volunteer Family

Dedication to family is the only way to describe Jack & Genita Limke's volunteerism with Farm Rescue. Not only does this selfless couple travel thousands of miles annually (sometimes more) from Bardstown, KY, to help farm families in need, they bring their young daughters to help as well!

From the very beginning in 2006, the Limke family has been an invaluable asset to Farm Rescue. Genita brings as many skills to the field and off the field as Jack, and both are largely responsible for Farm Rescue's success today.

Thank you Jack, Genita, Megan and Anna for the hope, comfort and laughter you bring to farm families when they need it most!

Q: What is your work/career background?
A: Jack grew up on a farm in Carpio, ND, and worked for neighboring farms as a teenager. He ran heavy equipment for seven years and has been a commercial airline pilot for the last 24 years. Genita is originally from Portland, OR. She taught for 10 years before becoming a mother. Now, she stays busy being a wife, mother and homeschool teacher.

Q: What prompted you to join the organization?
A: Bill told Jack about the organization during a long flight they were both on and asked Jack to volunteer! Since Jack grew up on a farm, he had farm experience and wanted to help. But he didn't want to be so far away from home without his family, so Genita and daughters have been tagging along on most trips!

Q: What is your favorite Farm Rescue moment or memory?
A: Our whole family has very fond memories of spring planting in 2008 when we "lived" in the Farm Rescue field trailer for about a month, traveling from farm to farm. We so enjoyed getting to know the farmers and their families by being right on their farms. Our children enjoyed the new experiences at each farm, always wanting to stay because "this is the best farm ever." Yet, each farm was unique and exciting, with new adventures awaiting us. The last farm we volunteered at in northern North Dakota was quite an inspiration to our family. We saw how self-sufficient it is still possible to be, from beekeeping to breadbaking to cheesemaking to homeschooling! The lessons learned from that trip are still discussed among our girls!

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Farm Rescue P.O. Box 28 Horace, ND 58047
Email: info@farmrescue.orgPhone: (701) 252-2017
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