WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. — Several Wisconsin Farmers Union members were honored with Builders Awards at the 86th annual Wisconsin Farmers Union State Convention Jan. 27-29 in Wisconsin Dells. Receiving the award were Gerald and Char Croes of Deer Park, Kristi Gorell of Eleva and Dan Richardson of Arkansaw.
The Builders Award recognizes a couple or individual’s outstanding commitment to building the Farmers Union organization through county involvement, leadership development and member recruitment.
“We are very proud to recognize these members’ enthusiasm and commitment to Farmers Union,” said WFU President Darin Von Ruden. “They have made considerable commitments in time and passion to the organization and each has a sincere commitment to the values of family farming.”
Gerald & Char Croes – St. Croix County
Gerald grew up on a dairy and hog farm in Deer Park in St. Croix County. Charlotte grew up on a dairy farm in High Bridge in Ashland County. They married in 1973 and lived on their dairy and hog farm a mile from Jerry’s home farm ever since. Jerry has been secretary-treasurer and president in St. Croix County Farmers Union. Char has served on credentials, elections, and resolutions committees, dairy and water committee. About 10 years ago, they and their son, Jeff, built a parlor and free-stall on a neighboring farm they purchased, where they now milk 110 cows. They also raise about 100 hogs, farrow to finish and meat chickens. Jerry is a board member of Ellsworth Creamery and Stanton Town Board and president of Deer Park Lions. Char has held every office in Home Community Education and offices in St. Paul Lutheran Church, as well as on the election and zoning committees in the Town of Stanton. She is a past town clerk and current member of the water quality committee in St. Croix County.
Kristi Gorell – Eau Claire County
Kristi has farmed in Eau Claire County with her husband, Ed, since 1983. They started farming as partners with Kristi’s parents on a 320-head veal and 44,000 broiler chicken facility until they bought the farm outright. The Gorells have since gone through many changes on the farm, with phases as independent and contract growers with veal, broiler, and various beef breeds. They currently start groups of 160 Holstein bull calves. Kristi’s connection with WFU began in the early 2000s when, like many farm wives at the time, she left the farm for a job with insurance. The Gorells discovered Farmers Union at a forum on health insurance reform and valued the organization’s work on the issue. Kristi assisted with restarting the Eau Claire County Farmers Union after years of inactivity. She has been an advocate of the Farmers Union Youth Program. The family also puts on kiddie pedal tractor pulls representing Eau Claire County Farmers Union. Kristi has promoted WFU at local fairs, volunteered at Kamp Kenwood clean-up days, served on numerous committees and has taken part in Lobby Day, the NFU Fly-In, workshops, and state and national conventions.
Dan Richardson – Pepin County
Dan Richardson was born and raised near Arkansaw in Pepin County. As a child he attended a one-room country school. While a teenager he cultivated corn and beans with his dad’s C Allis Chalmers for a dollar an hour. He became an ordained minister while still in high school and continues to serve as a Community of Christ minister. He also built the Richardson Insurance Agency beginning in 1970 with a special interest in insuring the needs of rural people. His daughter, Mary, now owns the business. He also was employed by WFU for nearly three years. The most life-changing day of his life was the day he married Jeanette Myers in 1962. Their family includes their three grown children, six grandchildren and four great-grandkids. He presently serves on the Town Board as a supervisor and is on the board of the Durand Area Food Pantry, Western Wisconsin Cares and the Pepin County Health Board. He is a past vice president of Pepin County Farmers Union and a past Pepin County board member.
— Wisconsin Farmers Union
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