Three South Dakota teens receive national office within National Farmers Union

Farm Forum

HURON, S.D. – Three South Dakota teens were selected to serve on Farmers Union National Youth Advisory Council during the 2015 National Farmers Union All States Leadership Camp held in Bailey, Colo. this June.

The students include: Jesse Carlson, 17, a Faulkton High School senior and son of Scott and Amy Carlson; Kiana Brockel, 19, a graduate of Bison High School and the daughter of Kelvin and Jean Brockel; and Alexandra Farber, 18, a graduate of Britton-Hecla High School and daughter of Tom and Lori Farber.

The South Dakota students make up half of the six-person team who will be representing thousands of Farmers Union youth across the country by working during the annual National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention and attending the NFU D.C. Fly-In where the youth will visit with Congressional Leaders about issues facing agriculture and rural communities throughout the nation. These young Farmers Union leaders will also help plan next year’s NFU All-States Leadership Camp.

The other students serving include: Andrew Cotter, Wisconsin; Karly Held, North Dakota; and Ali Slaughter, Wisconsin.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the South Dakota youth selected to serve. I have known them since they first became involved in the Farmers Union youth program in elementary school and have watched them grow and develop into leaders among their peers within their schools, community and the state of South Dakota,” said Bonnie Geyer, South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director.

Geyer added that this is the first time in the history of South Dakota Farmers Union that three youth have been selected the same year for this honor. “This is a huge honor for South Dakota Farmers Union! It is a privilege to watch our young people be so excited about their involvement in Farmers Union and see the passion that they have for Farmers Union’s mission and goals,” Geyer says. “It is a true testament to the value of this program when you hear them talk about what being involved in Farmers Union means to them and what a difference it has made in their lives.”

Since 1978, 16 South Dakota youth have served on the National Youth Advisory Council including Jeff Moser, Miller, 1978; Amanda Lee, De Smet, 2004; Ryan Soren, Lake Preston, 2005; Melissa Bushfield, Hitchcock, and Tirzah Lily, Lily 2008; Hannah Lily, Lily and Angie Koch, Stickney, 2009; Blake Farber, Britton, 2010;

Patrick Lowin, Blunt, and Gina Dethlefsen, Stickney, 2011; Mason Farber, Britton, 2012; and Dayton Trujillo, De Smet, and Chris Nemec, Holabird, 2014.

“One of the great challenges facing modern American agriculture is its own demographics,” said Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President. “Combine the aging demographics of farmers in the world’s breadbasket of the nation with the skyrocketing global population and you can quickly see the need for a new generation of farmers and ranchers who are equipped to lead.”

2015 All States Leadership Camp

National Farmers Union has several ongoing programs that reach out to youth in the farm and rural sector and help them hone their leadership skills. “National Farmers Union’s nearly 80 year-old All-States Leadership Camp does just that, with many of the participants going on to take the reins of important farm organizations, both domestically and internationally,” said Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President.

Johnson pointed out that over the course of its nearly eight decades, more than 6,100 young men and women have received leadership training in these camps. “Many of our campers have gone on to take highly visible leadership positions in agriculture, including a U.S. senator, the president of a national farm organization, the president of an international farm organization and a director of the nation’s largest farmer-owned supply and marketing cooperative,” he said.

To participate in All-States Leadership Camp, Farmers Union members, ages 17 to 20, must meet specific criteria throughout the year. In addition to Carlson, Brockel and Farber, seven other South Dakota youth earned their way to All State’s Camp. They include: Tyana Gottsleben, Philip; Jason Hanson, Britton; Alyson Hauck, De Smet; and Courtney Edgar, Orient.

All-State’s is sponsored by the FUI Foundation, Farm Credit, CoBank and CHS Foundation.

More about South Dakota members of the National Farmers Union Youth Advisory Council

Kiana Brockel, 19, grew up on a cow/calf and small grains ranch near Bison. A graduate of Bison High School, Brockel plans to attend Colorado State University in fall 2015. She is the daughter of Kelvin and Jean Brockel.

Throughout her youth, Brockel has participated in Farmers Union youth programming. She credits the program with giving her confidence. “I was an awkward, self-conscious kid. But in middle school, I began attending Farmers Union State Camp. I realized that the way I perceived myself was not the way other people did. The kids I met at State Camp thought I was fun and were interested in me. I learned how to speak in public and that also gave me confidence to succeed.”

A third-generation Faulk County farmer, Jesse Carlson, 17, began attending Farmers Union day camp when he was only 6. During All State’s Camp, Carlson said he enjoyed meeting other teens who grew up on farms or in rural communities across the U.S. “I enjoyed learning about the diversity of crops and the different ways people farm in other states.”

The son of Scott and Amy Carlson, he will be a senior at Faulkton High School this fall. He says he’s gained a lot of personal leadership skills through Farmers Union youth programming.

“From an early age, Farmers Union taught us the rules of leadership and what it means to be a good leader,” he says. In the role as NYAC, Carlson is excited to attend the D.C. Fly-In and learn more about policy development. “I’m excited to learn more about the legislative role Farmers Union plays.”

With two older brothers who served as NYAC’s, Alexandra Farber’s, 18, involvement in Farmers Union youth programming is a family legacy which she is proud to continue. “Every little sister’s dream is to make her big brothers proud,” says Farber, a 2015 graduate of Britton-Hecla High School.

The daughter of Tom and Lori Farber, Farber plans to attend South Dakota State University this fall to pursue degrees in Theatre and Advertising.

Involved in Farmers Union youth programming since she was 6, Farber says through the opportunities, experiences and training, she’s gained leadership skills that will carry her into her future. “Farmers Union opened up a different world of leadership that I can see impacting my entire life,” Farber says. “Because of my involvement, I am a much more well-rounded individual who is interested in what happens in my rural community and the world around me.”

To learn more about Farmers Union Youth programming, contact Geyer at or 605-352-6761 ext: 125; or visit