Farmers Union Awards Rural Youth with High Honor |

Farmers Union Awards Rural Youth with High Honor

South Dakota Farmers Union honored a group of devoted youth for their commitment to community, involvement and leadership development during the 2022 S.D. Farmers Union State Convention held in Huron Dec. 15-16.

The Torchbearer Award is the highest achievement in the S.D. Farmers Union Education Program. To receive the award, a student must complete five years of service. The award showcases the commitment students put toward education and the time they dedicated to serving rural communities.

True to the name of the award, continuing the traditions of the S.D. Farmers Union educational programming is often a priority for those eligible to receive the Torchbearer Award.

The 2022 Torchbearers are: Chaz Blotsky, Hidden Timber; Aeriel Eitreim, Sioux Falls; Ashley Hanson, Britton; Garrett Kruger, De Smet; Connor Hutcheson, Canistota and Jayda Walton, Mitchell. 

What does being a Torchbearer mean? 2022 Torchbearers share below.

Chaz Blotsky, Hidden Timber:

Being a Torchbearer to me is an accomplishment of reaching a goal I set when I first started going to Farmers Union camp. I am honored to be a Torchbearer because I wanted to be one of the first in my family to reach this honor. 

My special memories include becoming a JAC (Junior Advisory Council) this past summer, visiting Minneapolis and learning about various types of cooperatives and finally going to state camp in the summer and enjoying the campfires and working around the camp with my friends.

Farmers Union has prepared me to be a better public speaker, helped improve my leadership skills, taught me more about agriculture, helped me network with others with similar interests, and gave me more self-confidence.

2022 South Dakota Farmers Union Torchbearer, Chaz Blotsky from Hidden Timber, South Dakota. T and M Photographic Studio | Courtesy photo

Aeriel Eitreim, Sioux Falls:

Being a Torchbearer, isn’t just for the commitment to Farmers Union, but also to recognize those willing to pass said torch to younger campers. The Farmers Union education program would not be what it is today without young adults encouraging the continuation of camp. A Torchbearer is not just someone with commitment but with passion. A Torchbearer is not just someone with passion but with drive to both learn and teach. This is what being a Torchbearer means to me. 

Farmers Union has been in my life for many years. I continued to come back year after year because of the culture and community only found at camp. Through the years Farmers Union has taught me many things:

· It has taught me to own my mistakes, and to be confident with public speaking. 

· It has taught me to be a role model for and to teach younger campers about Farmers Union

· It has taught me how to be a leader, will continue to teach me leadership skills as I take the responsibility of being a JAC at this year’s state camp.

These three basic skills will help me be successful in any, and all of my future endeavors as I transition from childhood into adulthood. 

2022 South Dakota Farmers Union Torchbearer, Aeriel Eitreim, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


Garrett Kruger, De Smet:

Being a Torchbearer, is like being a senior at graduation. As a Torchbearer, I am graduating from the youth education program in Farmers Union to the adult portion of the organization. I will be an adult, and all that goes with that, having to work for a living, pay bills and be responsible for myself.

One of my special memories of Farmers Union education program is when I became a Junior Advisory Council member with my best friend. I will enjoy the challenge of being responsible in assisting with the teaching of the younger members at the camp.

Farmers Union’s teaching of cooperatives has helped me prepare for the future by showing me the lessons of paying the bills, store management and the importance of insurance. 

2022 South Dakota Farmers Union Torchbearer, Garrett Kruger, De Smet, South Dakota.


Ashley Hanson, Britton:

Being a Torchbearer means to me that I have reached the highest honors in the youth program for South Dakota Farmers Union. I have learned so much leadership by working with so many people that it has brought great memories with so many students at state camp.

The memories that I would like to share are getting to meet each of the new campers that come every year and getting to see the wonderful faces year after. I have met so many amazing people through this organization. 

Farmer Union has prepared me for the future because of teaching me what being a leader means. The way people will take your ideas and incorporate them with others. Farmers Union taught me how to work with others in the groups with the co-ops that we get to do at camp.

2022 South Dakota Farmers Union Torchbearer, Ashley Hanson, Britton, South Dakota. Hanson gives speech during the convention awards banquet.

Connor Hutcheson, Canistota:

Becoming a Torchbearer means a lot to me. It symbolizes all the time and effort that I put into this program. I’m so glad I stuck with it and learned all I could through the camp. 

When I look back at my experience with Farmers Union one moment that really stuck out to me, was when I was being selected to serve on the Junior Advisory Council. Caleb Nutgeren ran to me and picked me as one of the JACs for the following camp.

I have looked up to Caleb since we went to this camp together and since he was the reason why I got into it in the first place. I felt proud to be chosen by him, to be a leader to the younger kids the same way he was a leader to me.

Farmers Union prepared me for the future by giving me a better set of skills to use. This includes skills such as leadership, which is important anywhere, I go, as well as communication to better connect with people. Farmers Union also developed qualities like kindness and respect towards others.

2022 South Dakota Farmers Union Torchbearer, Connor Hutcheson, Canistota, South Dakota.


Jayda Walton, Mitchell:

Being a Torchbearer means continuing a tradition within Farmers Union. Having this role gives me a sense of pride because of all Farmers Union has given me – I can now give back. 

One of my special memories of Farmers Union education program is at the end of camp when we do the spiral circle. It is amazing to see the bonds and friendships that can be made in just four days. 

Farmers Union has given me a sense of leadership, family bonds and unforgettable memories that will positively impact my social life, school life and future career.

2022 South Dakota Farmers Union Torchbearer, Jayda Walton, Mitchell, South Dakota.


–South Dakota Farmers Union