This past week at the Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair, I was fortunate enough to see a unique tribute to honor a dairy farmer. Steve VanKuren and Alyssa Sprout Brace showed a string of Ken Teel’s Holsteins in his memory. Teel had died from cancer in February. And for many in the northeastern Pennsylvania dairy community his loss was keenly felt. He was a leader for so many organizations and had established a reputation for breeding quality Holstein cattle.
At the fair, the Teel family, VanKuren and Brace said they could feel Ken’s spirit with them as they worked with the cows. Standing at ringside, watching the family bring back a family tradition that Ken loved so much, you could not help but believe they were right. However, more importantly, their actions moved many and helped a local farm community remember and celebrate one of its own.
The showing of Ken’s cows reminds us how great the dairy community can be. Through the years, I have been fortunate to see the different ways farmers honor one of their own or lend a helping hand to a farmer in need.
They do it not for fame, but because it’s the right thing to do. Many actions are not grand gestures, but smaller meaningful ideas – from organizing a harvest crew for farmers struggling to get a crop in to staging a tractor parade for a retired farmer dying from cancer so he can see one more parade before his death to investing in youth by offering a memorial chain calf project, scholarships or funds to help a 4-H’er get into a project.
In a world that encourages everyone to think of themselves, it’s these simple gestures of tribute that continue to inspire me. Not because those who organize the event are searching for greatness, but because they believe it is the right thing to do.
To read the story about the Teel family, go here.
-- Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade, special sections editor