Clark County farmer recognized with Minnie Lovinger Award

Clark County farmer Gail Temple, right, was recognized with the 2021 Minnie Lovinger Award. South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director Rachel Haigh-Blume presented the award.

Even before she had children of her own, Gail Temple volunteered her time to organize youth programming for Clark County as a South Dakota Farmers Union County education director.

“I saw a need. Clark County did not have an education director and I had friends with kids,” explains Temple, who grew up attending Farmers Union camps. “I first attended camp when I was 3 because the organizers asked my mom to stay and help.”

Temple was recognized for 30 years of dedicated service to South Dakota’s rural youth and Farmers Union educational programming with the 2021 Minnie Lovinger Award on Dec. 16 during the South Dakota Farmers Union Convention held in Huron.

“I think back on all the educational directors I grew up with, and didn’t think I was the same caliber. They touched my life in a positive way and I hope I have touched someone else’s life in the same way for their future,” says Temple, who grew up actively involved in Farmers Union youth programming, achieving the organization’s highest youth honor, the Torchbearer Award in 1983.

Farmers Union educational programming focuses on providing rural youth with education on farm safety, cooperatives and policy. The programming also incorporates opportunities for leadership development and personal growth. Fun games and music are also woven through the curriculum.

Reflecting on what she gained from attending Farmers Union camp as a child, Temple says although she still remembers the words to many of the camp songs, it’s the friends she made as a camper that she values most.

“It’s about the connections I made with other campers and Farmers Union families," Temple says. "I still have friends who I met at camp, who continue to be active in Farmers Union.”

And her now-grown children, Jordyn and Jessica, agree.

“When I ask them about their Farmers Union camp experience, they say that camp was always a place where they could be themselves," she says.

Temple and her husband, Brad, raise cattle and crops on their farm near Clark. Growing up, Temple’s parents, Dee and Lloyd Battest, were active members of South Dakota Farmers Union.

In addition to youth programming, Temple has been active in supporting grassroots policy developed by Farmers Union members. She has served as a delegate to the organization’s national convention and advocated for policy during the annual Washington, D.C. Fly-In. Temple serves on the State Board of Directors representing District 3.

More about Minnie Lovinger Award

Established in 2004, the South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation instituted the Minnie Lovinger Award in recognition of the founder of all Farmers Union education programs.

Minnie Lovinger passed away more than 70 years ago, but not before she laid the foundation for all subsequent Farmers Union education efforts. As historian Lyn Oyos wrote in his history of South Dakota Farmers Union, Minnie Lovinger “snatched the thorny chance and broke the trail that others followed. Her soul has never left them in their sowing and reaping.”

This award is given to individuals who have made great contributions to the success and the longevity of South Dakota Farmers Union youth educational programming.