Paul and Ruth Lanoue of Marshall, Minn., were chosen as the winners of the American Farm Bureau Federation's Excellence in Agriculture award Monday at the organization's annual meeting in San Diego, Calif.
They will receive their choice of either a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado or 2015 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, plus free registration to the 2015 FUSION Conference.
The Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.
The three runners-up in the AFBF Excellence in Agriculture competition were Jessica Jones of Virginia, Michael and Amy Shirley of Tennessee and Phillip and Allison Honea of South Carolina. Each runner-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 45A tractor, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.
Paul is a farm business management instructor and Ruth is a registered nurse. The Lanoues are involved in Ruth's family farm where they raise crops and cattle. They have five children.
The Lanoues won the Excellence in Ag competition in Minnesota, then advanced to the national competition. During their presentation before judges held at the AFBF meeting Sunday, the Lanoues talked about agriculture's vitality and the need to connect to consumers, transition to the next farming generation, and the importance of building up an "agriculture army."
Paul explained the latter – teaching students about agriculture and getting them fired up to pursue ag careers.
Over the years, the couple has promoted agriculture in their community, in classrooms and on social media. Ruth likes to blog on her site, Family Farm Experience, and Paul has served as a mentor to college students studying to become ag teachers. He also was instrumental in getting ag ed courses on the fall 2015 curriculum at MinnWest Community and Technical College.
About 4,500 Farm Bureau members representing each state and Puerto Rico attended the AFBF annual meeting.