The 27th annual Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Appreciation Dinner was held Saturday at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
The Chamber hosts this dinner for the farmers of Audrain County in recognition of their strong contribution to the local economy. Each farm couple is hosted by a local business couple.
The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the Dale H. Schnarre Rural Citizen Award winners. The 2012 recipients are Charles and Georgia DeVault. They were presented a plaque by the 2011 recipients, Gary and Erma Wrye.
Charles and Georgia DeVault were both born and raised on farms in Audrain County. Charles served in the U.S. Army and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Animal Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Georgia DeVault attended classes at the Hart Career Center in Mexico. They were married on July 28, 1973. He has farmed and is also a retired rural mail carrier and she has been a full-time farm wife, mother and grandmother.
Their farm is home to almost every farm animal imaginable – pot bellied pigs, ducks, geese, rabbits, turkeys, goats, sheep, dogs and cats.
The Devaults have two children, Frederick who is a full-time farmer and Theodore who farms, teaches adult agriculture at the Hart Career Center and owns the Mexico Animal Hospital. They have seven grandchildren. The DeVaults are active in Audrain Cattlemen's, Missouri Pork Producers and are charter members of Mexico Young Farmers and Farm Wives. They attend Sunrise Christian Church where he has served as deacon and elder, and she has taught Sunday school and children's church. He is part of the Red Cross Disaster Relief, has donated 23 gallons of blood, and is active in the Audrain County Area Genealogical Society. They both have enjoyed traveling together to 48 states, many National Parks, Canada, and Old Mexico.
Leslie Miller was once again mistress of ceremonies, delighting the audience with her wit and humor.
The theme for the evening was "Women in Agriculture." The two guest speakers both stayed with the theme in their presentations.
The first was Abigail Hoer, a sophomore at Mexico High school and the daughter of Jonathon and Paula Hoer. She is active in FFA and serves as the Chapter Sentinel. Abigail placed first in the State FFA Prepared Public Speaking Contest Division 1 in 2012. She presented her winning speech to the audience which dealt with women in agriculture.
Diane Olson was the second speaker for the evening. Olson has served as Director of Promotion and Education Programs for the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation. She is a program director which develops and coordinates programs that promote agricultural understanding, leadership development and citizenship.
She spoke about the changes and the roles of women today in the farming industry.
"Women today have so many opportunities (in the agricultural field)," she stated. She told how things have changed for women throughout the years with their positions at the University of Missouri Extension and with FFA. Several years ago women were not allowed to be Ag specialists with the Extension and girls were not members of FFA until 1969. "Today 11 of the 16 state officers (for FFA) are female," said Olson.
Page 2 of 2 - She also named women in Mexico who are role models in the agricultural field. They include: Mary Sobba, Barb Wilson, Teresa Carlson, Lisa Cox and Charlene Finck.
Olson stated women are very capable of performing jobs in today's world. She concluded her speech with a statement she uses in the professional world. "Don't ask me (to do a job) because I am a woman. Ask me because I am capable."