2024 Ag Day Breakfast- Football, Laughter, & Agriculture

The Greensburg-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2024 Ag Day Breakfast on Saturday, February 24, 2024.

The event began with an amazing breakfast served by FFA members dressed in their outfits. 

Claire Schoettmer, South Decatur High School FFA Vice President proudly led the room in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Dawn Lowe, GDC Chamber Executive Director welcomed all to the event and spoke about the importance of Agriculture in our area. She spoke of and recognized everyone who helped make this year’s breakfast run so smoothly. Dawn highlighted how giving and wonderful the ag community is. She spoke about according to the Indiana Department of Agriculture, 94% of farms in Indiana are family owned and operated. Dawn recognized all FFA members in the room and all past FFA members. A majority of the room stood proudly to be recognized as past FFA members. She finished by telling everyone how every chamber member contributes to other members and events just like the Ag Day Breakfast.

Sandy Nieman, Decatur County Farm Bureau Board Member and Ag Day Breakfast Committee Member gave an invocation about agriculture and its importance. 

Merill Smith came to the podium to speak about the Greensburg Bread of Life, Inc., and Farmers Feeding the Flock. Merill began by recognizing the Founder & Executive Director Melissa Foist. On the first day of serving food August 19, 2021, they served 13 meals that day. In 2023 they served 28,972 meals which averages out to 557 meals per week. They have added several other opportunities for individuals to get assistance. Merill spoke about the Farmers Feeding the Flock program. In 2024 will be the 7th year with a total amount raised of $299,000. In 2023 they donated 30 acres of a Soybean Field and they received $66,000 through sponsorships and the profit from the soybean crops. In 2024 they will be utilizing 20 acres of cornfield provided by the Brewsaugh Family. The family was recognized and thanked for their dedication. While speaking Merill began to speak from the heart about Bob Brewsaugh and how this year’s project will be donated in memory of Bob Brewsaugh. 

Rex McKinney, President/CEO of Decatur County Memorial Hospital spoke about how the hospital gives back to the community and is dedicated to the community. Rex stated that they are proud to continue to grow and provide opportunities for individuals to come in and work for the hospital. He spoke about different intern positions, high school and college students coming to experience the hospital, and the opening of the new Rehab Building, and stated that the hospital has recently purchased a neighboring property to allow the opportunity for out-of-town individuals coming to the hospital and working as an intern to stay and become part of the community. Rex stated that he is proud that our hospital continues to be locally owned and operated. Many hospitals have transitioned to being corporate hospitals. 

The keynote speaker was Hunter Smith, Owner of WonderTree Regenerative Farm, Punter- Indianapolis Colts (1999-2008), and Super Bowl XLI Champion (2007). Hunter began his discussion by stating that he believes that farmers are the backbone of the country’s economic and moral success. He spoke about how this is a hard time for those who are in agriculture. While speaking he reached into his pocket and pulled out his Superbowl ring and asked who could catch it. He then tossed the ring to a crowd member and said to pass it around and everyone can take pictures and do TikTok’s with it. He joked and said that the ring had a tracker in it and that he just wanted it back before everyone left or he would be by to hang out at their house. 

Hunter spoke of his childhood and how his 1,000-acre family cattle ranch began and operated. Speaking of a tornado that came through the property and painted a picture of his father hanging onto an interior post in the barn while the tornado tore the roof off of the barn and damaged most of the property. He spoke about growing up he wanted to play basketball and asked his father for a basketball goal. His father purchased the basketball goal but never put it up. Hunter said that he believed that this was because his father knew that he belonged in football. 

Hunter spoke about football and his career. He spoke about how he was privileged to of had the opportunity to have a father who supported his interest in football but also made sure that Hunter still did other things. He joked about his father saying that he could go to football but he needed to help castrate some cattle before he goes. He said that he met many individuals who became football players who were allowed to just focus on football and have no other responsibilities. He said that because of this after many players complete their football career they have millions of dollars and within 2 years many are divorced and/or bankrupt. By having the experiences that he had growing up he was able to look at his future and be a grown-up about it. Hunter said the craze about youth sports being the main focus for kids is irresponsible and those kids need to be taught that sports cannot be the only plans you have. 

After 12 years in the NFL, he was trying to decide what to do with his life and career. He said he and his wife lived in a beautiful home in Indianapolis in a suburb. His wife sent him away to a rented cabin in Southern Indiana and told him to take food, no laptop, turn his cell phone off, and just pray and connect and think about his future. He said that he did that and came home and told his wife that he needed to get back to having Agriculture in his life. He joked about his wife always being in the suburbs, but she went along with his plan and they found 20 acres and sold their home. 

Hunter had a slideshow where he proudly showed his beautiful family, pets, and farm. He spoke about thrift and how he built the buildings and most of the items on the property. He spoke about the importance of all agriculture. He said many are going to say it was easy to start something like that with millions for the start-up. He said that he did this as lean as possible. He said that agriculture needs real people, real amounts of capital, and real frugal lifestyles. Hunter joked and said this entire situation is like Bob Ross’s happy little accident. Hunter said, “If you believe that something like this can happen. Do it. Breathe life into an old way of doing things.”

During his speech, you heard a piece of metal hit the floor and he said “I just heard the Super Bowl ring hit the floor.” he laughed about it and said he hoped the tracking chip didn’t fall out. 

Hunter stated that he is running for State Representative and his reason for doing this is because the people in office are the ones who wanted to be in office. He believes others who work hard and go to college are the ones that we need in office and that is why he is running. 

A member of the crowd asked how he plan to sustain the labor force as it dwindles. Hunter said that right now he has lots of volunteers on his farm and his children work hard. He said that he hoped his talk would inspire the young people in the room that agriculture is a real revenue source and is a real market. Hunter said we need all kinds of agriculture, not just one type or process. 

The farm was named WonderTree because there was a 335-year-old white oak on the property that is large. He stated that one limb was 170ft long. Hunter said if four grown men put their arms out they probably wouldn’t be able to wrap around the tree. He said his kids and family began to say phrases such as “I wonder what the tree has seen.”, “I wonder how many deers have been up to that tree.” So they decided to call the farm WonderTree. 

Hunter finished by stating that he began with the purchase of the 20-acre farm. The opportunity to rent farmland near his property and now has 150 acres with all of the land being used for livestock.

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