WYNOT, Neb. — For generations, the Foxhoven family has run a family farm and survived all the challenges continuously facing agriculture.
Now, the next generation is keeping the Wynot, Nebraska, operation going strong despite new challenges, such as this year’s pandemic.
In recognition of their efforts, the Foxhovens have been selected as the 2020 Farm Families of the Year. They were honored during Friday’s Ag Appreciation, sponsored by the Yankton Area Chamber of Commerce through its Agribusiness Committee.
This year’s Farm Families of the Year include Derek and Erica Foxhoven, Cory and Tina Foxhoven and Greg Foxhoven. They operate a 4,000-head cattle feeding operation southeast of Yankton in Cedar County, Nebraska.
Derek and Erica Foxhoven spoke to the Press & Dakotan on behalf of their families. The couple didn’t realize their families’ operation had been selected for the 2020 honor when they were contacted by the committee.
“At first, I thought maybe we had won a ‘Feed the Farmer’ prize and they were going to bring us lunch out to the farm,” Erica said with a laugh. “I was really surprised (at the award), but it was definitely an honor.”
In addition to custom feeding, the Foxhovens run a commercial cow/calf herd. They also farm row crops, such as corn and forage, for the feedlot.
Growing up, the brothers worked on their father Terry Foxhoven’s farm west of Wynot as well as their grandfather Emery Heine’s farm where they are now located. They are the third generation working on the farm.
In 2008, Derek and Erica bought his father’s’ cow/calf operation to get started. In 2011, they purchased their grandfather’s home place and, in 2014, they purchased the rest of the farm ground.
Since that time, Derek’s brothers Cory and Greg have joined him on the farm and are part of the day-to-day operations.
“I really appreciate working with my brothers,” Derek said. “Each one of us brings his own set of skills and outlooks. It works really well and has blended together really well.”
The three families bring together not only a strong agriculture foundation but also a commitment to their churches and communities.
• Derek and Erica have three children; Chesney, 7; Oakley, 4; and Paisley, 1. Erica has worked as the closing manager for the Dakota MAC Division at First Dakota National Bank for the past seven years. She grew up in White Lake on a family farm where they raised cattle, corn, soybeans and wheat.
Both Derek and Erica were heavily involved in youth 4-H. Erica was part of the 4-H rodeo as well as becoming a PRCA rodeo queen. Both Derek and Erica are graduates of South Dakota State University.
They are members of the men’s and women’s groups at Immaculate Conception Church in St Helena, Nebraska. They are also Heart Club members for the United Way of Greater Yankton.
• Cory and Tina have five children: Zach, 13; Jordan, 12; McKenzie, 9; Josie, 7; and Riley, 3. Tina is the nurse manager for the Yankton Medical Clinic’s ambulatory surgery center. She serves as a volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT) for the St. Helena and Wynot Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Cory serves as a volunteer fireman on the St. Helena and Wynot Fire Department.
• Greg is also a volunteer fireman on the St. Helena and Wynot Fire Department as well as serving as a volunteer EMT.
For the Foxhovens, farming is a lifestyle and not just a business. At the same time, they want the general public to realize the hard work and sacrifices that go with the farm life.
In an increasingly urban nation, many consumers hold no connection to agriculture, Erica said. When the pandemic disrupted the supply chain earlier this year, it showed the importance of maintaining the nation’s food supply, she added.
Given all the uncertainty, would they want their children to take on farming?
“Absolutely,” Derek said.
Erica agreed. “I would like to see them involved with agriculture in some way, shape or form,” she said.
Terry Foxhoven passed away nearly eight years ago, but Erica felt he was part of last week’s awards presentation for the family.
“I think their dad, Terry, would have been really proud to see these boys together like this, farming,” she said. “I’m sure he’s smiling down on us right now.”
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