Want to know how yellow corn differs from white corn or why farm equipment kicks up so much dust? Feel free to go straight to young farmers like Bradley and Amber Burbrink or Mark and Denise Scarborough for the answers to any number of farm-related questions.
Both couples are passionate about continuing their families’ legacies of farming while educating the public about the farm-to-fork process.
Off-Farm Jobs, On-Farm Education
“With both Mark and me being raised on farms, it is a passion that we truly share together,” Denise says. “We feel that our upbringings gave us opportunities that many other youth might not be exposed to, like showing livestock, animal care and welfare, and 4-H. We also appreciate the work ethic instilled in us by our parents.”
Though the Scarboroughs farm in LaPorte County, both make their living off the farm. Denise is a financial services officer for Farm Credit Services, and Mark is an operations engineer for Kankakee Valley Construction Co. Juggling jobs and the demanding farm schedule “often forces us to burn the candle at both ends,” Denise admits. “But our education enabled us to be prepared for both our on- and off-farm positions.”
While off-farm jobs enable them to better support their family, the Scarboroughs generously share their farm with the public, including 4-H families and hosting tours.
“Education has to be the No. 1 priority when dealing with non-farm neighbors,” Mark emphasizes. “Many people have preconceived notions about farmers and farming operations. Most are open to asking questions and listening to the true and factual statistics once you take the opportunity and time to speak with them. We feel that we have been blessed to farm and want to share the message and our story as often as possible.”
Their hard work and commitment to family, farm and community recently garnered the Scarboroughs the Indiana Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award.
The award recognizes Farm Bureau members that are committed to agriculture but are not farming full-time.
“Applying for such an award makes you look at how much you have grown, not just your farming operation but also in our family life, community involvement and professionally,” Denise says. “Taking a step back to analyze all that you have makes you feel truly blessed.”
Farming for the Future
IFB also recognized Bradley and Amber, partners in her parents’ operation in Vigo County. They received the Young Farmer Achievement Award for outstanding commitment to farming and their leadership in ag organizations.
The Burbrinks, who farm about 4,200 acres, emphasize they work together with their family for common goals.
We want the next generation, like our son and daughter, to be able to farm if they want to,” Brad says. “We have been given the opportunity to be in full partnership with Amber’s parents and her brother and sister-in-law. We’re very fortunate we’re all on the same team, we’re not just employees.”
Part of the farm’s viability has been enhanced through seizing opportunities such as growing white corn for taco shells and chips for Azteca Milling at Evansville and Vistive soybeans for use in cooking oils.
“We grow specialty crops to increase profit without increasing acres,” Brad says. “Such crops are more time-consuming but net us financial premiums while still growing crops for safe consumption.”
Communicating about today’s production agriculture is a priority for the Burbrinks.
“Through our kids and their activities, we’re meeting more families to share ag’s story with,” Amber says. “We’ll be talking with new friends, they find out we’re farmers and all of a sudden they have lots of questions. It’s pretty amazing how interested they are. The more they hear, the more they want to know.”
Both are involved with Farm Bureau; in fact, Brad is the Vigo County Farm Bureau president and also serves on the Indiana Soybean Alliance board. The Burbrinks find their networking and various professional relationships make them more well-rounded and connected to key ag issues.
So, what’s with all the dust? Machinery today is more efficient so there is less dust than in years past, Amber says. “There isn’t a way to have no dust when you farm, but you can have less thanks to well-engineered equipment and farmers being good stewards of the land.”