The Hayden Family of Lake County is honored as the 2012 Indiana Farm Family of the Year at the Indiana Farm Bureau state convention in Indianapolis. Pictured (from left) are Conner Hayden, Jacinda Thompson and Zach Hayden in the front; Bobby Hayden, Jamie Thompson, Susie Hayden and Chari Hayden in the middle; and Jerry Hayden, Ryan Thompson, Matt Hayden and Scott Beck in the back. The award is presented every year by Beck’s Hybrids and Indiana AgriNews.
The Hayden Family of Lake County is honored as the 2012 Indiana Farm Family of the Year at the Indiana Farm Bureau state convention in Indianapolis. Pictured (from left) are Conner Hayden, Jacinda Thompson and Zach Hayden in the front; Bobby Hayden, Jamie Thompson, Susie Hayden and Chari Hayden in the middle; and Jerry Hayden, Ryan Thompson, Matt Hayden and Scott Beck in the back. The award is presented every year by Beck’s Hybrids and Indiana AgriNews.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Hayden Family now is Indiana’s Farm Family of the Year.

The Lake County family was honored during a presentation at the Indiana Farm Bureau state convention in Indianapolis.

Jerry and Susie Hayden were recognized with their children and grandchildren — their son, Matt, and his wife, Chari, and their children, Conner and Zach; their son, Jeremy, and his wife, Kelly, and their children, Drew and Erin; their daughter, Jamie, and her husband, Ryan Thompson, and their child, Jacinda; and their son, Bobby.

The award has been presented annually by two family agricultural businesses, Beck’s Hybrids and Indiana AgriNews, for the past 15 years.

It honors an outstanding Hoosier family for its farming efforts and community involvement and is aimed at increasing awareness of the important contributions all farm families make to everyone’s daily life.

“Over the past 15 years, we have enjoyed getting to the know each of the families and the unique ways they work together to sustain their operation and serve their communities,” said Scott Beck, Beck’s Hybrids vice president.

“Our selection of the Hayden family this year gives us one more reason to celebrate the good things that are happening with Indiana farm families.”

Beck noted the Haydens continually strive to promote agriculture in their county, state and beyond. They work tirelessly, writing, talking and passing along the good message about American farming to people who know less and less about its benefits and its importance in the nation’s economy and society.

“The Haydens have grown their farm operation over the past several years and yet continue to reach out to their community in very tangible ways,” he said.

The family farms about 4,000 acres, owning about 500 acres of that land and renting the rest from about 20 different landlords. Jerry, Susie, Matt, Chari, Bobby and one full-time employee are responsible for all of the day-to-day operations.

They raise corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. And the family always has some livestock on the farm for 4-H projects.

About four years ago, Jerry bought his first two miniature Hereford heifers. They now have 42 and show them at the Lake County Fair, the Iowa State Fair, the Northern Livestock Show in Denver and the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky.

This has been an especially trying year after a storm in June left the family’s grain system totally dysfunctional. Rebuilding and repairing the system by professionals and the family took until the middle of November.

Their church also was extensively damaged, which required many hours of work by the family and others.

“This put harvest behind, but not their dispositions,” said Dorisann McNeill of Hebron, who nominated the family for the award.

The past two years, the Haydens have hosted a Day on the Farm, showing how a farm works to about 170 preschool students, their teachers, parents and others.

This October, they worked with the Indiana Truckers Association and Indiana Farm Bureau to gift a trailer full of round hay bales to cattle farmers in drought-stricken Texas.

In August, Lake County Farm Bureau gave away a Day on the Farm to someone who entered the Farm Bureau drawing at the Lake County Fair.

The Haydens hosted the winning family who were able to ride in a combine and see the farm animals.

“It should seem pretty obvious to all that these folks are multitaskers, magna cum laude,” McNeill said.

Jerry currently is the vice president of Eagle Creek Township and is a Range Line Community Presbyterian church elder. He previously was a Farm Service Agency county committeeman and a Farm Credit Board member.

Susie is a Lake County Farm Bureau Women’s Leader, a Lake County Farm Bureau Board member and the Indian Trail Grange secretary. She previously was a 4-H leader, an FSA County Committee adviser, an Ag in the Classroom volunteer and a church elder.

Matt is on the Lake County Farm Bureau Board as president of Eagle Creek Township and is a Purdue Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching member, the Lake County Extension Board chairman, an FSA Board county committeeman and a 4-H leader.

Chari teaches special education at Lake Village Elementary School and is the District 1 Farm Bureau secretary.

Jeremy was the Lake County Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee chairman and a member of the Lake County Farm Bureau Board.

Jamie teaches preschool to special needs students in Crete, Ill.

Bobby is the Lake County Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee chairman and is a member of the Lake County Farm Bureau Board.

As the 2012 Indiana Farm Family of the Year, the family members received a plaque and a yard sign. They also will receive an all-expense-paid vacation getaway based on their own personal interests.

Previous recipients of the 15-year-old Indiana Farm Family of the Year award include: 1998 – The Kohlhagen Family of Jasper County; 1999 – The Walker Family of Blackford County; 2000 – The Bontrager Family of Elkhart County; 2001 – The Stinson Family of Clinton County; 2002 – The Ambriole Family of Huntington County; 2003 – The Schlatter Family of Allen County; 2004 – The Johnson Family of Orange County; 2005 – The Perkins Family of LaGrange County; 2006 – The Bell Family of Wayne County; 2007 – The Leininger Family of St. Joseph County; 2008 – The Ring Family of Dubois County; 2009 – The Minich-May Family of Carroll County; 2010 – The Mohler Family of Clinton County; and 2011 – The Coy Family of Decatur County.