Six rural youth recognized for commitment to agriculture and communities

Farm Forum

HURON — South Dakota Farmers Union recognizes six rural youth for their commitment to agriculture and their communities with the Torchbearer distinction award.

The Torchbearer award recognizes youth who have completed all levels of the Famers Union youth achievement awards. It is the highest achievement award the organization presents to its youth membership.

The following high school seniors received the Torchbearer award: Dayton Trujillo of De Smet, son of Kathy McAdaragh and Steven Trujillo; Keely Thompson of New Underwood, daughter of Dana and Roxona Thompson; Brooke Enright of Union Center, daughter of Travis and Jone Enright; Bailly Enright of Union Center, daughter of Travis and Jone Enright; Alyson Hauck of De Smet, daughter of Jason and Bobbi Hauck and Jackie Dethlefsen of Stickney, daughter of Cheryl and Clyde Dethlefsen.

“These youth have exhibited leadership and given back to their communities and the industry of agriculture through participation in Farmers Union leadership training, camps and volunteering their time for community development,” explains Bonnie Geyer, South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director.

Many of the Torchbearers became involved in Farmers Union youth programs as elementary students attending Farmers Union day camps. This is true for Dayton Trujillo. He got involved in Farmers Union youth programs at the prodding of his aunt. However, after attending the Farmers Union day camp as an elementary student, he says he didn’t need encouragement to stay involved.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself and developed self confidence and communication skills through Farmers Union youth programs. The last few years I’ve been able to give back as a camp counselor working with young kids,” Trujillo says.

He adds that along with learning, he has made life-long friends through the programs.

“The friends I have made in Farmers Union are like an extended family,” Trujillo says.

Along with friends, Bailly Enright says she gained leadership and speaking skills through Farmers Union camps and education opportunities that paid off when she ran for student body president.

“Farmers Union pushed me to step out of my element and stretch myself,” says the Faith High School student body president.

Rural Youth Learn Policy Development at National Convention in Santa Fe

Each of the six Torchbearers received an all expense paid trip to the National Farmers Union Convention in Santa Fe, N.M., March 8-12.

While attending the event, the students had the opportunity to hear U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack speak, attend presentations on the recently passed farm bill and got to be involved in policy development.

“I learned a lot more about the farm bill and how much work goes into the policy of Farmers Union. It was really interesting to hear all the viewpoints of the members from the different states,” Jackie Dethlefsen says.

When Dethlefsen first got involved in Farmers Union as an elementary student, she says she was shy, but because of the experiences she gained through the program, she became more confident.

“I used to be the shy kid in the corner, but the Farmers Union program broke me out of that shell. I now can walk up to just about anyone and have a conversation with them, which I did multiple times during the convention,” Dethlefsen says.

To learn more about Farmers Union youth programs, visit or contact Bonnie Geyer at 605-352-6761 ext. 125.