Golf tournament funds leadership education for ag’s next generation

Farm Forum

HURON — Fun and raising funds for the next generation of agricultural leaders is the focus of the 2015 Farmers Union Foundation Open Golf Tournament which will be held June 16 at the Lakeview Country Club in Mitchell (3300 N Ohlman St). The tournament will be a four-person, best ball format. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. (CDT); tee off is at 9 a.m.

“Investing in rural youth is investing in the future of South Dakota’s number one industry,” said Jim Wahle, SDFU board member and the event’s organizer.

Wahle farms near Salem and serves as District 2 Farmers Union President. He hopes to raise $10,000 for Farmers Union leadership educational programming which includes several leadership-focused activities designed specifically to provide South Dakota’s rural youth, ages 6 through 18, with leadership and life skills, as well as insight into South Dakota’s number one industry of agriculture.

More than 3,000 youth participate in Farmers Union educational programming each year. Youth like Keely Thompson, who grew up on a ranch near New Underwood.

If you were to meet 19-year-old Thompson today, you wouldn’t guess that the South Dakota State University Animal Science major, who is on the Dean’s List and is a member of the university’s honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta, was once a shy girl who was content to sit on the sidelines.

When asked what brought her out of her shell, Thompson doesn’t hesitate. “Farmers Union youth programs; they helped me break out of my shell, gave me social skills and gave me the confidence to speak in front of people,” Thompson says. “I’ve enjoyed all the opportunities it’s provided to me and now that I’m a camp counselor, I’m able to mentor younger kids.”

Golf for rural youth

Thompson and rural youth like her are the reason Wahle volunteers to organize the event.

“Along with leadership development, Farmers Union education programs also teach rural youth about the cooperatives which play an integral role in many rural communities,” Wahle says. “Those of us who live in rural South Dakota depend heavily upon cooperatives and it’s important our youth understand how they work. I bank at a cooperative, I get my phone and internet service from a cooperative, I purchase most of my farm inputs from a cooperative, I buy my fuel from a cooperative and I sell most of my grain to a cooperative.”

Wahle is currently looking for team and hole sponsors. To learn more, contact the state Farmers Union office at 605-352-6761 ext. 114 or