Vern Rauch Recipient of South Dakota Eminent Farmer Honor

South Dakota Board of Regents and South Dakota State University (SDSU) Colleges of Agriculture and Biological Sciences and Family and Consumer Sciences recognized four individuals with the Eminent Farmer/Rancher and Eminent Homemaker Honor during a banquet Sept. 16 at the Swiftel Center in Brookings, SD.

The 2011 Eminent Farmers/Ranchers honored are Vern Rausch, Hoven, SD and Arnold Wienk, Lake Preston, SD. The 2011 Eminent Homemakers honored are Rebecca “Becky” Converse, Arlington, SD and Donna Robbennolt, Gettysburg, SD.

Established in 1927, the awards recognize individuals for their contributions of leadership and service to the community on the local, state and national level. Each year SDSU selects four individuals to honor based on confi dential nominations from across the state. The nominations are reviewed by a committee of SDSU faculty members, administrators, Extension personnel and upon approval of the dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences and the dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences the recommendations
go to the President of SDSU.

The honorees photos join the more than 300 portraits of Eminent Farmers/ Ranchers and Homemakers which are displayed in the “Hall of Fame” portrait gallery located in Agriculture Hall at South Dakota State University.

Vern and Sharon Rausch next to the portrait which will be displayed in the
Hall of Fame portrait gallery at SDSU’s Agriculture Hall.

Vernon Rausch, 2011 Eminent Farmer/Rancher, Hoven, SD
A true trailblazer, Vernon Rausch isn’t afraid to step out as a pioneer. Whether it’s being the only one of his brothers to attain a college degree, or lead a group of cattlemen to D.C. with the intentions of influencing international trade policy, or to become the first Hereford breeder to host an Internet sale – if there’s a challenge in need of a new solution, Rausch is up for the task.

“I enjoy pioneering and starting new organizations. When I see a need, I’ll jump in and try to help. It’s exciting and challenging,” said Rausch, who is quick to add that he is able to be involved in activities off his large purebred Hereford operation he runs with his brother, Jerry, and their sons because of his family’s support. “I’ve been blessed with partners who cover for me when I’m not home. This has allowed me to become involved in other things.”

Rausch and his wife, Sharon, raised their four sons and one daughter, Shannon, Trudy Morgan, Dana, Joel and Nick, on the family’s Hoven farm. He and his brothers, Jerry and Harlan, his sons, Joel and Shannon, and his nephews, Rick and Gary, and several grandchildren operate the largest purebred Hereford operation in the United States, Rausch Hereford Farms. A third-generation Potter County farmer, Rausch’s family got into raising registered Herefords when he was only four-years-old and his older brothers and sisters purchased Herefords as their 4-H project. The family recently hosted their 52nd annual bull and female sale. For several decades, Rausch has unselfishly volunteered his time advocating for South Dakota agriculture and the Hereford industry. As a member of the Hoven FFA Alumni he facilitated the North Central Livestock judging schools for 4-H and FFA members for more than 25 years; for more than 45 years his family has donated a heifer to a freshman FFA student, as part of the Hereford Heifer Grant. Recognized for his service to youth in agriculture, Rausch received the Honorary State and Chapter FFA Degrees and South Dakota FFA Distinguished Service Award. He was a Potter County 4-H Leader, served on the Potter County Fair Board and Potter County Planning Commission. As a member of the Potter County Steering Committee, Rausch helped fund a study that investigated irrigation potential from the Blue Blanket Aquifer; and currently serves as the co-chairman of the Hoven Service Club.

In 1977 he was recognized as the Hoven Service Club Man of the Year. Understanding the value of detailed performance and purebred registration records provide to cattle breeders and the commercial cattleman, Rausch worked tirelessly with the American Hereford Association to help develop user-friendly technology that helped breeders maintain complex records that were easier to use and read.

When the cattle industry faced desperate times in the late 1970s, Rausch helped create Concerned Cattlemen, a group which organized more than 300 cowboys from the Dakotas and Montana to testify in Washington,DC, lobbying Congress. The group shared the plight of the American cattlemen and suggested changes to meat import laws and testified before the International Trade Commission. Rausch
and the group were invited into the White House to confer with the economic advisors about the challenges facing the cattle industry.

Throughout the years, Rausch has served in leadership positions and on the board of the South Dakota Hereford Association, the American Hereford Association and Certified Hereford Beef. He was a founding member of the South Dakota Beef Breeds Council,
where he worked to improve the genetics of, and increase the markets for South Dakota breeding stock; and traveled with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture on agricultural trade missions to five different countries.

“When the demand for beef leveled off, we knew we needed to increase demand with branded beef programs. This has helped demand for beef increase significantly,” Rausch says of helping establish the Certified Hereford Beef program in 1995. He and his operation have been recognized by several industry organizations: in 1999 Rausch Hereford Farms was selected as the American Hereford Association nominee for the Seedstock Producer of the Year and in 2004, the farm was nominated to the Seedstock Producer Roll of Excellence by the Beef Improvement Federation; in 2007, the South Dakota Hereford Association named Rausch Herefords as Seedstock Producer of the Year.

Along with advocating for his industry, Rausch has been actively involved in his rural community, serving as a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters, as a founding member of the St. Anthony’s School Foundation, and a founding member of the St. Anthony’s Parish Council, and as a member of the Hoven Area & SD Right to Life. He was a Religious Education Instructor for high school students, supports the annual “Christmas Concert” at Cathedral of the Prairie, featuring the South Dakota Symphony which more than 1,000 attendees enjoy each year. He played an active role in the Cathedral’s restoration in the 1980s and more recently helped raise $400,000 to install a slate roof on the Cathedral and managed a capital drive to raise $500,000 to install geothermal heating system in the cathedral.

“Faith and family have always been our number-one priority. That’s the way my parents did it and that’s the way our family is,” Rausch said.