Petik, Sumption recognized with award
Respect and integrity are the two words that come to mind when Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President, thinks of this year’s Meritorious Service Award honorees, Jerry Petik of Meadow and John Sumption of Frederick.
“These men are two of the most respected men in our organization who I’ve had the honor of serving with,” Sombke said. “Both men are selfless and put the needs of South Dakota family farms and rural communities ahead of their own.”
Petik and Sumption were recognized with the Meritorious Service Award during the 2014 S.D. State Farmers Union Convention held in Aberdeen Nov. 20-21, 2014.
Jerry Petik, Corson County
Community means everything to Jerry Petik. The third-generation Meadow farmer says it’s where he developed his love for farming and ranching, grew in his faith and together with his wife, Carolyn, raised their family.
Within this community, Jerry also learned what it means to give back. “Giving back isn’t a cafeteria thing where you go down the line and pick out what you want. When it comes to giving back, you need to put more in than you get back,” he says.
Jerry’s roots in his community go back to his great-grandfather who immigrated to America from Czechoslovakia and homesteaded the ground where his brother and farm partner, Jim, currently lives with his wife, Kim. The brothers operate a commercial cow/calf operation, raise alfalfa and small grains, as well as corn, wheat and sunflowers.
Actively involved in the Meadow community, Jerry helped organize the local fire department and served as its first fire chief; he is an active member of Hope Presbyterian church, serving his church in many capacities on the local, state and national level; served on the board and is an incorporating member of the Lemmon Area Medical Assn.; and Jerry has been actively involved in 4-H as a member, leader and chair of Corson County 4-H Leaders Assn.
Always intending to return home to farm and ranch, Jerry began farming full-time in 1972 with a degree from South Dakota State University in Agriculture Business. About that time, he says it became obvious to him that there were outside forces at work against agriculture. “I realized that working harder wasn’t necessarily all there was to being successful as an agriculture producer – you have to work smarter and be part of something bigger to be protected from those forces.”
This realization led him to become actively involved in Farmers Union. “Farmers Union’s philosophy toward the people and industry are compatible with mine,” says Jerry who served on the Farmers Union board for 23 years.
It took a local need to pull him from the board. He now serves on the board of directors of the Grand River Co-op Grazing Assn. He is currently the President of Corson County Farmers Union.
Jerry has also served South Dakota’s agriculture community as a board member for the following organizations: West River Conservancy Sub-District,S.D. Beef Council and the National Beef Board. Jerry ran for the state legislature in 1982 and has been involved in the Hands Across South Dakota relief project.
John Sumption, Brown County
When it comes to creating policy or solving issues, John Sumption says every voice matters. “Every little thought matters because that’s where the big ideas come from.”
Working together with others to solve the big issues which impact South Dakota’s family farmers and rural communities is the reason John became actively involved in Farmers Union. “So much of agriculture is exploited by national concerns. In many cases, those who claim to represent agriculture are simply advocating for their best interest,which is why I was impressed by the fact that farmers and ranchers actually draft the policy Farmers Union gives legislators each session,” he says.
John currently serves as a County Counselor. “We rewrite the entire policy each year that our members then vote on, and we give to political leaders each year – this is a big undertaking that comes from a think tank of farmers and ranchers who are working for the future.”
There are many reasons which motivate John to invest his time to ensure a solid future for South Dakota’s family farmers and their rural communities, but the most important are his five grown sons who farm with him today. “Over my lifetime, I’ve watched our community shrink and some of the things I enjoy disappear. You can’t expect to maintain what is important to you and your family if you’re not willing to give of your time,” John says. “Another reason I’m involved in Farmers Union is because they invest in rural communities.”
Along with serving as a County Counselor and the current Chairman of Brown County Farmers Union, John has served on the state Farmers Union Board of Directors and as Dist. 7 President.
He has also served on his alumni association and local school board, as well as on the board of the local Farmers Union Oil Company. John has actively served in the Frederick Community Club and on the council of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
Currently, he serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Frederick Farmers Elevator and Chairman of the Dakota Marketing Coalition.
“I believe you have to become involved and work hard if you want to keep the way of life you love alive.”