Donna Chumney and Gerald Dorn visit Wyoming with other members of Singles in Agriculture. The couple became engaged after meeting at an association event.
Donna Chumney and Gerald Dorn visit Wyoming with other members of Singles in Agriculture. The couple became engaged after meeting at an association event.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Singles in Agriculture program, a social club devoted to creating new friendships and networks, is seeking new members.

The program is nationwide, but the Indiana chapter provides local activities for people to meet and make new memories.

At the heart of SIA is an interest in and connection to agriculture. Some members are farmers, and others involved in agribusinesses.

Some simply love country life. All have the common ground of agriculture to talk about at social events.

“We’re a social and educational group that promotes agriculture,” said Judy Droddy, president of the Indiana chapter. “A lot of our activities are focused on agriculture and education. We have three annual national get-togethers a year.”

The program began more than 20 years ago as a pen pals section of a publication. Several pen pals decided to meet. Over time, they formed the SIA organization.

Now, members can tour cities, take in the sights and gain new experiences while participating in events. With 14 states involved and each chapter holding events, there always is an opportunity to meet new people.

“Back in September, we were in Cheyenne, Wyo.,” Droddy said. “We toured a buffalo ranch and did a historic buffalo tour. We get to know the area a little better. The state that hosts us sets up the activities and plans it.”

In February, Droddy and other members will head to Norman, Okla., to see the National Weather Service headquarters and other area attractions.

Droddy said that, through the program, she has made many connections. She now has friends across the country to visit while traveling.

“It’s probably been one of the most fun things I’ve done in single life,” Droddy said. “I didn’t anticipate forming such great friendships. I thought I’d get to travel, but didn’t anticipate the wonderful friendships I would make.”

Without the program she would never have met her best friend, a woman who lives 12 miles away, Droddy said.

So far, SIA has more than 300 members. While it is not an online dating service, sometimes friendships made in the program evolve into romance.

One example is engaged couple Donna Chumney and Gerald Dorn. Dorn, a farmer from Nebraska, and Chumney, a retired chemistry professor from Texas, met at an SIA event in Kansas in 1999.

Although Dorn was a member, he was there on business and had no idea an event was being held that weekend.

“We spoke in the lobby of the motel and later on he asked to go shopping around with me, but we connected at the dance and exchanged phone numbers,” Chumney said. “Slowly, a relationship evolved. We are engaged.”

When he proposed at the dinner table, Dorn was so excited that he put the ring on the wrong finger. Chumney gladly said yes. They have yet to set a date, but are looking forward to married life.

“She’s my tall, Texan, blue-eyed blonde,” Dorn said, grinning.

Both Chumney and Dorn are more than 6 feet tall.

Some 770 miles separate Chumney and Dorn, but they make it work by staying in touch and visiting each other every chance they can. After the harvest, Dorn stays with Chumney in a home they purchased together in Texas.

“We’ve seen and done things you could never imagine because we don’t know some of these things exist,” Chumney said about her SIA experiences. “We spend a lot of events touring the area, whatever might be interesting.

“We have seen incredible things most people don’t know about. We turn to each other and say ‘only in SIA would we have seen this.’ The people, it’s like family. Every time you go to an event, it’s like a reunion. You get to meet new people, and it’s really awesome.”

Droddy encouraged interested people to visit singlesinagriculture.org for more information and a calendar of events.