The newest members of the Iowa Hereford Hall of Fame are Virgil Peters of Lisbon and Mike Simpson of Redfield. They were inducted at a ceremony during the Iowa Hereford Breeders Association annual meeting in Clarinda August 28.
The Iowa Hereford Hall of Fame honors people who have had a significant impact on the breed in the state, says Becky Simpson, administrative secretary for the Iowa Hereford Breeders Association.
Peters and Simpson were chosen for their leadership which helped shape the current organization. In 1998-99, a joint committee of the Iowa Hereford Association and Iowa Polled Hereford Association met numerous times to discuss joining to form one state association for horned and polled Hereford breeders in Iowa. As presidents of their respective associations, Peters and Simpson co-chaired the merger committee, which resulted in the creation of the Iowa Hereford Breeders Association. Biographies of the inductees follow:
Virgil Peters: His family was enticed to migrate to "greener" Iowa
Virgil Peters was born in Nebraska, where his love of Herefords began with a grandfather and father who raised registered Herefords. He and his family migrated to Iowa when he was 10 years old, being enticed by how green it was. After graduating from Central City High School, Virgil spent two years in the Army serving in Korea. He attended Iowa State University for two years and then started selling for John Deere. He invested in Power Equipment in Cedar Rapids and managed that store for 20 years. The next 20 years he was a real estate agent and appraiser for Hertz Farm Management in Mt. Vernon.
In 1997 he and his wife, Sharon, who worked for Cornell College and is also a music teacher, purchased a farm near Mt. Vernon in eastern Iowa, on Highway 30 near the Palisades Kepler State Park. It was there that he maintained and greatly enjoyed his herd of 35 Herefords of predominantly D-4 breeding.
For several years, Virgil and Sharon hosted a community Christmas Eve service in their barn. He enjoyed participating in the Iowa Hereford Association, serving on the board for many years, and working with Mike Simpson to establish the Iowa Hereford Breeders Association. Virgil and Sharon have three children and five grandchildren. Recently, they sold their farm and retired in Lisbon.
Mike Simpson: Helped form the Iowa Junior Hereford Association
Although he has lived in Iowa since 1979, Mike Simpson's affiliation with the state's Hereford associations dates back to 1972. As vice president in charge of youth activities for the American Polled Hereford Association, he oversaw the formation that year of the Iowa Junior Polled Hereford Association.
A "city boy" who grew up in Dayton, Ohio, Mike began raising and showing Polled Herefords during his high school years. He worked at several Polled Hereford herds during the summers, most notably Myrtlewood Farms in Kentucky. After graduating from Ohio State University, he did graduate work at Penn State University.
Mike's first position after college was at the American Polled Hereford Association, where he began the APHA's national youth program and helped form numerous state junior associations, oversaw the National queen contest, worked with the National Organization of Poll-ettes – and met his wife, Becky. His most notable achievement was originating and developing the National Junior Polled Hereford Heifer Show & Forum, the predecessor to and prototype for the current Junior National Hereford Expo.
In 1979, Mike followed his boss and mentor, Orville Sweet, to the National Pork Producers Council and the Simpsons moved to rural Redfield, IA, bringing with them the cow herd that was established in 1974. Simpson Polled Herefords currently consists of 20 to 25 cows, with an emphasis on performance. Mike worked in the pork industry for nearly 24 years; he now has a consulting business managing an association involved with veterinary and animal husbandry scientists concerning animal welfare.
Mike has served in many capacities in the state Hereford associations. He was on the steering committee for the 1996 Junior National in Des Moines and was a director and president of the Iowa Polled Hereford Association. He and Becky have been editors of the IHBA membership directory since 2000 and have managed the Hereford sale at the Iowa Beef Expo since 2008. Mike has been announcer for the Iowa Junior Hereford Preview Show for several years and also assists in the ring at the State Fair.
The Simpsons are the parents of two grown sons – Travis (married to Sara), who lives in Des Moines; and Kevin, who lives in Thermopolis, Wyo. Both boys were active in the junior program on state and national levels, exhibiting at eight junior nationals. The Junior National is still a favorite activity for Mike – he often encourages young people and their families to participate and he and Becky usually make the JNHE their vacation destination each year.