March 18, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry

There are countless people who contribute to the agriculture in eastern Idaho. Most ranchers and farmers have done more for the industry than many will ever know. The Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame strives to recognize and honor those individuals.

This year, the annual recognition dinner will be held March 22 at the Shoshone Bannock Hotel. The reception starts at 5:30 p.m. with the dinner to follow at 6:30.

The hall of fame is a non-profit organization and has existed for more than 40 years.

“There are a lot of people out there that have had huge impacts and nobody gets to know about them because there out in the field, they’re out there working,” said Danna Beckman, the president of the Eastern Agriculture Hall of Fame.

She said many of the people who have made significant differences in the agriculture world won’t wave the flag for themselves. The hall of fame does the flag waving for those individuals and their families.

Each year, five extraordinary individuals are inducted into the hall of fame.

This year, Dr. Kleal Hill from Arco, Carol Guthrie from Inkom, Carl Lufkin from Salmon, LaVar Newman from Monteview, and Jean Schwieder from Iona will all be inducted into the hall of fame.

“To have two women this year is super exciting,” Beckman said. “When it comes to ag it doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman, child, everyone pitches in.”

Carol Guthrie was born into the farming life. She has been on many committees throughout her life striving to make a difference for the industry. She created her own initiative for ag literacy. She started with a single mobile classroom where children could read stories to learn about wheat, water and animals. Now it has grown to three mobile classrooms.

Jean Schwieder also grew up in a ranching family. She and her husband run a 250-head cattle ranch and have a 2,200-acre farm where they grow primarily grass, hay and wheat. She was awarded Farm Woman of the Year for Bonneville County along with many other awards due to the business she has brought to other farmers and ranchers through her advocacy.

Carl Lufkin was raised on a farm in Rigby. He then went on to grow his own beef industry. He is now a leader in beef and cattle and created his own seed stock herd for himself.

“I actually think his bull sale is coming up in a week or so,” Beckman said.

Dr. Kleal Hill is an animal doctor. He works to keep animals to stay healthy, and helps his clients to stay in business. He deals with both large commercial operations and smaller family animals.

“He is known to have discounted the cost of medication or services to encourage an owner to follow through with treatments,” Beckman explained. “Without people like that the ag industry just doesn’t survive.”

Most of the awards he has received have stemmed from the gratitude his community feels for his kindness and services.

LaVar Newman didn’t grow up in the ag industry like the other inductees. He started his own business on rented ground when he was a sophomore in high school. Since then, he’s put together over 8,000-acre family farm.

“He’s just been very revolutionary all of his life,” Beckman commented. “It takes all kinds. None of these people are the same.”

She said it takes “extraordinary effort” to get into the hall of fame. “A lot of these people have been the first in their fields to try new things, to go above and beyond where someone else would’ve said ‘Sorry there’s nothing you can do.’”

This year they will also have a special guest, Celia Gould, the director of agriculture for the state of Idaho.

Beckman said the recognition dinner will have a great meal provided by the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel, but people should attend for all the other great reasons as well.

“So many people of this generation are starting to get up there in years,” Beckman said. “A lot of these people are not going to be around us forever and the stories they have to tell and the knowledge that they have to share is just so phenomenal.”

To purchase tickets, read more about the inductees or learn more visit Eiaghallofame.com.