Six longtime farmers and agriculture advocates will be inducted into the Mid-Columbia Agriculture Hall of Fame this year.
They will be honored Jan. 17 at the Pasco Red Lion during an awards dinner and ceremony presented by the Pasco Chamber of Commerce and Port of Pasco.
This is the 19th year Hall of Fame honors have been awarded to Mid-Columbia farmers, families and agribusiness leaders in Franklin County and neighboring Mid-Columbia counties.
The new inductees are being recognized for their outstanding contributions to agriculture and agribusiness in five categories:
The Mid-Columbia Ag Hall of Fame Pioneer Award honors individuals who have had a significant influence on the development of agriculture and unselfishly served their communities. This year’s inductee is Harold “Feathers” Thompson who hailed from Connell.
Thompson was born on his father’s Connell ranch in 1923. He expanded the family’s wheat farm and cattle ranch after recovering from serious injuries in a World War II crash as a tail gunner in an anti-submarine patrol plane. He later earned numerous recognition for his cattle breeding stock and methods. Thompson started the Junior Hereford Association in Washington state and was inducted to the National Horned Hereford Hall of Fame. He acted as the Connell Municipal Court judge from 1956-70 and served on the Connell City Council for eight years. He was the go-to man for financing, organizing and finishing community projects.
The Rising Star Award honors a young person in the agriculture industry who demonstrates a commitment to community involvement with a dedication to enhance agriculture. This year the honor goes to Rob Davis of Connell.
He started his agriculture journey in 1999, managing oversight of numerous row crops. He stepped up to manage the whole farm after a serious injury to farm owner Carl Noble. In 2006, Davis started RHD Farms. He was chairman of the U.S. Potato Board from 2013-14 and has tirelessly advocated for agriculture. He also is active in the Washington Cattle Feeders Association Six D trucking, striving to improve the transportation component of the Beef Quality Assurance program. He is involved in numerous area FFAs and livestock shows, working with students and service clubs.
The Agriculture Advisor Award is given to a person who has had a significant impact in ag advancement and educational programs and similar organizations influencing the industry through leadership, guidance and community involvement. This year the honor goes to Heidi Shattuck of Pasco.
She is the agriculture education teacher at Connell High School. She has been recognized as the Outstanding Teacher of the Year and Rookie of the Year by the Washington Association of Agriculture Teachers. She is recognized for guiding her students through their projects, as well as volunteering for numerous events and community service.
The Stewardship Award is presented to those who have served the community and displayed leadership in agriculture over a long period. Jeff and Vicki Gordon of Pasco will receive the honor this year.
The Gordons, along with Jeff’s brother Bill, planted their first wine grapes in 1981 when there were only 19 wineries in the state. Their leadership in the growth of the Washington wine industry has focused on quality and access. Jeff was the second president of the Washington Wine Growers and served as the president of the Washington Wine Commission. The Gordons’ greatest contribution was their leadership in the formation of the Washington State University Wine Center on the Richland campus.
The Visionary Award is a special honor conferred through a consensus of Ag Hall of Fame Committee members. Pete Taggares will be bestowed with the honor this year.
He was at one time one of the largest and most influential farmers in the Mid-Columbia and the Northwest. In 1963, he built the state’s largest french fry plant in Othello and farmed more than 50,000 acres in five states and built an additional plant in Minnesota. In 1978, he was named one of the 10 most powerful men in the state by The Associated Press.
The Agriculture Hall of Fame Gala starts with a social hour at 5 p.m. A full-course dinner will feature local produce and wines. Cost is $65 a person, or $500 for a table of eight.
For reservations and information, call the Pasco Chamber at 509-547-9755, stop by the office at 1110 Osprey Pointe Blvd., Suite 101, in Pasco, or visit pascochamber.org.
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