Bette Lu Lerwick, Albin, Wyo., is Monsanto's America's Farmers Mom of the Year 2011.
Lerwick was nominated for the America's Farmers Mom of the Year contest by her daughter, Kosha Olsen, who visited www.americasfarmers.com earlier this spring and submitted a 300-word nomination describing a few of the contributions her mother makes to her family, farm, community and the agricultural industry. Lerwick was selected as the Northwest Region's Farm Mom of the Year by a panel of judges from American Agri-Women and Monsanto. Her nomination was then posted to www.AmericasFarmers.com, along with those of the four other regional winners'. Online voting determined Lerwick the national winner.
"This is a wonderful privilege and I feel honored to be the 2011 Farm Mom of the Year when there are so many deserving farm moms out there," said Lerwick. "I am proud to be from Wyoming and I'm excited to bring recognition to this wonderful state."
Ron and Bette Lu Lerwick, in partnership with son, Monte, and his wife, Megan, raise wheat, corn, dryland beans, hay, sunflowers and beef cattle on the high plains of their centennial ranch in southeastern Wyoming.
"What does it take to plant a garden the size of a townhouse, or a square mile of sunflowers?" asked Kosha Olsen in her nomination. "How do you raise teenagers 60 miles from the nearest fast food?" Kosha outlined a few of the ways her mother supports others – from serving as "event planner, caterer, custodian, hired hand and manager" at home to driving the tractors, baking bread and delivering calves on the farm to having served as EMT for the rural volunteer fire department and attending many memorial services in the community. In addition, Bette Lu and Ron Lerwick have welcomed exchange students and at-risk youths to their farm for months at a time.
"The best way to educate consumers about agriculture is to share your story and your lifestyle with them," Kosha wrote. "Mom has always opened her home to those interested in agriculture. Family farms remain viable because of American farm moms like mine."
All five regional winners won a $5,000 cash prize from Monsanto. Lerwick will receive an additional $2,500 in prize money from the company for winning the national title.
"Not only are women often the backbone of their family farm, but they are also passionate spokespeople for the agricultural industry," said Chris Chavis, Monsanto's America's Farmers Mom of the Year spokesperson. "Lerwick exemplifies the impact that one woman can have, extending from her family throughout the community of Albin and on to consumers from other regions of the country."
The other four regional winners were Kerri Vander Poel, Bakersfield, Calif.; April Hemmes, Hampton, Iowa; Teresa Chambers, Macon, Ga.; and Jennie Schmidt, Sudlersville, Md.
Monsanto's America's Farmers Mom of the Year is an extension of the America's Farmers program, which celebrates the contributions of America's farmers, who provide food, energy and clothing for a growing planet. Visit AmericasFarmers.com throughout the year to read about other ways Monsanto will recognize the hard work and contributions of American farmers.