By now you’ve hopefully read through our 2019 Annual Report which was delivered to our farmer-owners in December. The book catalogs the fiscal year, fall 2018 to summer 2019…what a year to write about!
Also in the Annual Report packet were biographies and voting ballets for each of our three districts. This is a big election year with two long-serving Directors retiring off the board.
Steve Hill, Greenfield, IN, and Lloyd Lee, Eldorado, OH have been tremendous assets to our Board of Directors. Their history with our board – and those co-op boards before Harvest Land – runs deep and they’ve been a part of many large and small decisions that have progressed our farmer-owned cooperative to where it is today. We’re proud to be associated with such men who are deeply devoted to their families, farms, and communities, and we’ll surely miss their insight and contributions to our cooperative.
We highly encourage you to read the biographies and vote for your district.
Also, this is your last call to buy tickets for our Annual Meeting! Our 2020 Annual Meeting will be held at the Wayne County Fairgrounds at 6:30 PM on Tuesday, January 21.
To assist us with meal planning, please purchase tickets ($5.00 each) no later than January 14 from any director or at any Harvest Land facility office. This $5.00 ensures your seat at the meeting.
Don’t forget: Ticket sales end on January 14 and
the event is at the Wayne County Fairgrounds at 6:30 on January 21.
In February we invited you to send us stories of the positive encounters or experiences you have with Harvest Land employees for our Salute to Service program. We asked you to share with us the instance of an employee going above and beyond, someone handling a difficult assignment with professionalism or an employee representing Harvest Land in an oustanding way.
We received 68 nominations from Harvest Land customers and employees nominating their peers. This was an amazing response to a simple ask! But it made our job difficult. We closed nominations in November and then asked our employee base to read through all nominations and choose their top three choices to win the 2019 Salute to Service Award.
At our cooperative Christmas party on December 14 the winner was announced. Today we want to share with you the winner:
Gabe is the Manager at Lena Ag Center.
The winning submission:
May 26, 2018 around 2:05pm is a day that I will never forget! My boss Gabe McWhinney and I were filling anhydrous tanks when the accident happened. The tank I was filling started to leak around the fill valve. When I went to tighten it all hell broke loose! The valve and hose came off the tank in my hand. The pressure was so great it pushed me back off the wagon on the the dock where I was working. I blacked out for a few seconds and when I came to I found myself face down on the corner of the dock. I felt the hose that left my hand wrapped around my right leg. My first thought was “I need to get away from the hose,” so I pulled myself off the dock and got down under it. That’s when I got a mouth full of vapors. The next thing I saw from under the dock was Gabe running to shut the emergency shut off cables to stop the pump. Then I saw him run to the office which is about 50 yards away. He came back out of the office and said “Dan, I’m coming.” All this took place in about 30 to 45 seconds. He started running from the office to the dock, grabbed the garden hose, started spraying down the vapor cloud and spraying me with water all while turning off the valves. After he got the valves turned off he climbed down under the dock where I was laying on my stomach. The first words out of his mouth was “I got you Dan.” He then took the garden hose and sprayed me off as best he could. Once he got everything sprayed off he said “let’s get you out from under this dock.” By the time it took us to get out from under the dock the fire department showed up. I was able to walk on my own and started flushing my eyes. When the ambulance showed up Gabe said “take him first.” At that time I didn’t know the hose and valve that came off in my hand had hit Gabe square in his rear end and caused him to be pushed off the dock, causing him to lose his phone from his hip; hence the reason he had to run to the office to have the secretary call 911. All in one motion after getting hit with the hose and valve. He was definitely thinking and on his game to do all of that without any hesitation. When we got in the ambulance which there was one for me and one for him we headed to the hospital. Once there we had to be detoxed. When I got in the shower at the hospital things started going down hill for me. I had to be Careflighted to Miami Valley Hospital where I was admitted. Gabe followed me all the way to Dayton with his wife after he was checked out at Upper Valley Medical Center. He made his wife stop at WalMart to buy him some clothes because his were all bagged up from the detox process. When the left Wal Mart with clothes and shoes they made their way to Miami Valley Hospital and stayed several hours. Upon my admission I had to have an emergency tracheotomy and Gabe stayed with my wife during all of this and didn’t leave until he was able to see me and make sure I was ok. Gabe came back the next day which happened to be a Sunday and spent a good deal of the day with me. He made sure I was doing ok and that meant a lot to me. Gabe McWhinney is a great person and boss all in one. His dedication to his job and his employees is second to none. This is why I would like to nominate him for Outstanding Service. He deserves to win the Salute to Service Award and all that goes with it.
Submitted by Dan Danielson
Gabe was also nominated a second time:
Hi. I am Bob Oakes and a long time customer of Lena AG Center. I am 86 years old so I have seen a lot of Seed, Feed, Fertilizer and Grain elevators in my day starting with Brubaker Feed and Grain and Saunders Seed in the 1940’s in Tipp City, Ohio when I was in High School. When I returned from service in 1956 I desperately wanted to be a farmer and did most of my business with Farm Bureau. They had the elevator at Casstown, Ohio a few miles from where I farmed. During the sixties a man by the name of Walter Hanna worked for them and he did everything possible to try and help me succeed. He loved chickens and I had a chicken problem so he brought a debeaker out and helped me debeak several hundred leg horn hens. He was a man of integrity as well as helpfulness. You have a person in your organization that matches Walter. They both came from the same mold. Integrity and the willingness to help and understand. Gabe treats me as if I farm 5000 acres. I have very few tillable acres but that makes no difference to Gabe. He does his work with the thoughtfulness that anyone would admire. I know you have a lot of good employees but Gabe McWhinney should be one of those considered. If Gabe should win, my $250.00 prize is to be giving to Gabe’s favorite charity.
Submitted by Bob Oakes
We believe both of these nominations speak volumes about Gabe’s character and we’re quite proud to call him part of our team.
We offer a sincere thank you to all who nominated a Harvest Land employee. This program continues to grow annually because those of you who take advantage of offering praise to someone who truly deserves it.
We’re so excited to share that our very own Janel Cowart, part of our EnergyPro team located at the Junction, was recently named Support Staff of the Year at the CountryMark awards banquet.
Janel has been a Harvest Land employee for only five years, but in that time she has made quite an impact on coworkers and customers. Janel is just downright fun to work with – yes, you read that right! During long, hot, or cold days in the energy business, Janel always works to make Harvest Land a pleasant place to be.
Janel has an outstanding, positive attitude around customers as well as Harvest Land employees. She is also the definition of a team player. If there is an issue that needs attention, you can confidently turn it over to Janel and she will find the problem. Janel demands nothing less than accuracy in her work, and she expects the same from others. In fact, if she finds inaccuracy is other’s work that may affect our business, she will fix it without hesitation.
Janel does an excellent job of building spreadsheets that track information when needed. She is very timely with meeting deadlines. She will work over or take work home when needed. Janel is very well respected by those she works with, including drivers, service techs, and fellow support staff.
Janel does not only focus on what she can accurately get done in a day, but she also constantly finds ways to make the job more efficient for herself and the entire energy team.
Janel Cowart is the best of the best and we are so proud to have her on our team. Watch a few EnergyPro team members speak about Janel:
Thank you for representing our cooperative so very well.
On this week of Thanksgiving, Harvest Land and Land O’Lakes partnered to donate $2,000 to the Monthly Food Ministry organized by the Centerville United Methodist Church in Wayne County.
We made a similar donation in 2018 during the warm summer months, but when the church reached out and said more and more families are in line every month and the need was again great, we knew we must help because hunger knows no season.
Who Will This Donation Serve?
Since their first Monthly Food Ministry in September of 2017, the number of families they support has steadily increased. In 2018, they averaged 65 families a month, but in November of 2019, 91 families came through the door to receive assistance.
They purchase food for the food ministry from Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana and buying food for approximately 65 families costs around $1,000 per month. The vast majority of that cost has come from the faithful contributions of the members and friends of the Centerville United Methodist Church, but as their assistance numbers go up, so do costs to Gleaners. It only makes mathmatical sense that they must budget more dollars per month to purchase food from Gleaners, so our $2,000 contribution helps to fill that gap.
The church keeps no record of where the families they serve come from as they want a completely open food ministry, but they do know that families are coming from Cambridge City, Pershing, Richmond, and elsewhere.
So, Where Will $2,000 Go?
100% of the $2,000 will go to purchase food from Gleaners for future Monthly Food Ministries. The food that the food bank pays for from Gleaners includes canned goods, boxed items, and other items that can be stored on the shelf. Occasionally, Gleaners offers meat and dairy products (milk, butter, eggs, yogurt), but they are limited right now by refrigeration and are currently in the process of creating a “cold room” in the church food room. This project should be finished sometime in December. They also get produce from Gleaners, but produce is usually provided at no cost. While Gleaners is their main source of produce, it is not their only. They also get produce from local growers, the Amish auction in northern Wayne County, and the Community Garden at the ARC Center in Richmond.
Have Food, Will Travel
When necessary, the Monthly Food Ministry will deliver, and every month there is at least one family that needs transportation. They revealed to us that last summer a lady and her two daughters walked a great distance from a trailer park to receive food. Rather than make her carry two or three heavy boxes/bags back on a busy highway, they loaded her up in a pick-up truck and transported her, her daughters, and her food back home.
Too often the food ministry group hears, “I don’t know what I would do without this food.” Almost all of the folks receiving food are overly grateful for the assistance.
We’re proud to partner with Land O’Lakes to provide this hunger relief assistance in the Centerville area this holiday season.
It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving 2019 will be a memory this time next week. 2019, while seemingly dragging us through the mud at times, has passed quickly as the years do.
More and more, Thanksgiving seems to be a holiday that is overshadowed between Halloween and Christmas. Many stores began putting up Christmas decorations after October 31, or even Labor Day!
We’re traditionalists, as we know it’s only because of the insight and opportunities provided by previous generations that our farmer-owned cooperative is still active and proudly in your community today. This week, we thought we’d share three Thanksgiving traditions that might be worth beginning with your family this Thanksgiving.
Create a Keepsake Tablecloth
Cover the table with a white tablecloth and place glasses filled with cloth markers around the table. Ask guests to draw what they’re thankful for, or even a bit of art for the little ones. Once the table is cleared, you’ll have a memento that you can reuse every year. And what fun it will be to look back in five years! We do, however, understand the risk that comes with cranberry sauce and a white table cloth. Charge ahead anyway – it will make for a great story!
Write Letters of Gratitude
It is easy to get busy in our day-to-day routines and forget about the people and things who are bright spots in our day. By choosing to be grateful under any circumstances, you’ll find even more things to appreciate.
Set blank stationery at each place setting with a pen and invite your guests to write a letter of gratitude to someone they need to thank. Maybe a child’s teacher, a neighbor, a doctor, your home heat delivery driver or the really great cashier at the grocery store who takes the time to bag your groceries so nothing gets smashed. Everyone enjoys a hand-written note, and by giving your Thanksgiving guests a pen, blank note and five minutes to express their thanks to someone, it’s a win-win for everyone on this special day of gratitude.
Bookend the Event with the Next Generation
Every day at the co-op, we talk about the next generation. The next generation of employees, the next generation of farmer-members, the next generation of technology and more. On Thanksgiving, the younger generation may find themselves left out, stuck at the kid’s table with a slab of turkey the size of their head and a stuffy sweater vest mom insisted they wear.
Why not include them in the Thanksgiving traditions in 2019 and invite them to either help set the table or serve dessert? This gets them involved in the event, shows them the value they bring to the table (literally) and keeps their hands busy for a bit longer.
We at Harvest Land are thankful for you, your business and our partnership.
Harvest Land understands that high school students in our trade territory are a tremendous asset as they emerge as the future generation of leaders within the workplace. With one-third of our workforce retiring in the next 3-5 years and many similar stories echoing throughout the agriculture industry, the career options that students interested in ag will encounter are tremendous.
This week and next, we welcome high school ag students to our local ag centers as we help them discover the many career options at the cooperative, including roles as Agronomists, Custom Applicators, Office Support Administrators, Fuel and Propane Delivery Drivers and much more.
Whether today’s students are focused on heading to college or simply graduating high school, our employees are excited to share their similar stories and experiences that have brought them to where they are today.
Students in attendance got to tour our facilities and encounter several stations along the way, which provided interactive experiences for students. All segments of our cooperative business, Agronomy, Energy, Grain and Feed, are represented during these career day events.
As your local cooperative, we appreciate any opportunity to encourage youth participation and education within agriculture.
We truly appreciate the schools and teachers who participate in these career days, which provides an enhanced view of local careers post-graduation while simultaneously raising awareness on some options for scholarships, internships and learning tools in the interim.
We’re proud to be local.
We’re proud to work safely and as a team.
We’re proud to be owned by 5,500 dedicated farmers.
We’re proud to employ so many in rural Ohio and Indiana.
We’re proud to do work daily that enhances the lives of so many.
We’re proud to have so many different career opportunities within one company which can satisfy the curious minds and busy hands of so many in rural America.