Despite having a lot of work to catch up on from the cold, wet spring experienced in our area, 2019 Farm Family of the Year Kevin and Charlene Healy of rural Irene took time out Tuesday evening to be honored at the Ag Gala with two generations in tow.
Each year, Yankton’s Chamber of Commerce recognizes a farming family for their contributions to agriculture and community, as well as church and other organizations at the annual Ag Gala, sponsored by the Chamber.
The Healys said they had no idea they were even in the running, and due to the late planting season this year, had been planning on being in the field rather than attend the event.
"They had to tell us about this, otherwise we wouldn’t be here," Charlene said. "Like today, Kevin was disking and Simon was planting. They had to quit that to come to this."
"I’d like to thank Eric Anderson and Hubb Agency and Dave Hubb," Kevin said. "When we were young and just starting a family, Dave was the 4-H guy and the Extension guy here in the county, so we got to know Dave way, way back."
Usually, by June, the planting would be done and the Healys would be focusing on their cattle, but a wet spring delayed that ritual.
"We usually start planting the first week of April and we didn’t start this year until June 10. Everybody’s in the same (place) probably," Kevin said. "This year, I think every farmer deserves an award for what they’ve gone through. With Mother Nature, we don’t have a say; we’ve just got to deal with it."
The Healys were nominated by crop insurance Agent Eric Anderson with Hubbs Agency, Inc., and a member of the Chamber’s Agri-Business Committee that selects an area farm family to honor each year.
"I have known them all my life; I went to school with all of Kevin and Charlene’s kids," Anderson said. "If you asked them for anything, they would help you no matter who you are. They are really great people and they are part of the Irene community, plus the Yankton community with all they do."
Kevin is a member of the South Dakota Simmental Association and was its director from 1990-1996; and was named South Dakota Simmental Association promoter of the year in 2017. Kevin and Charlene were both heavily involved in 4-H for many years as well.
Kevin and Charlene Healy, along with son Simon and daughter-in-law Amanda Healy, raise corn, soybeans and livestock. Kevin and Charlene have been farming in the Irene area for 40 years and are widely known for raising Simmental bulls and heifers. The couple has four children: Simon, Rose, Christine and Bridget.
Rose Webb is a dental hygienist, and she and her husband Brandon have three children: Emma (4), Nathan (2) and Dawson (5 months). Christine Kronaizl is a surgical tech. She and her husband Justin have two: Chesney (6) and Ty (2). Bridget Healy teaches second grade at Irene-Wakonda Elementary School.
All three daughters still help out on the farm whenever needed and play a big role in the Simmental bull sale every February.
"It’s a family-run operation, that’s for sure, and everyone is a part of this," Simon said.
Simon and Amanda have been living on the original homestead for the last 10 years. The couple has four children: Cain (10), Bella (7), Diesel (4) and Blaise (2).
Simon is also a member of the South Dakota Simmental Association, and has volunteered as a youth baseball coach for the last five years. He and his wife are also very involved with the 4-H Club and their church, the Saint Columba Church in Mayfield.
"Dad and mom are well deserving of (the award)," Simon said. "They have been doing a lot of stuff in the Irene area for a long time."
Follow @CoraVanOlson on Twitter.