Three Montanans Among Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives Honorees


WASHINGTON – Farm Credit  announced the top honorees of the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives program, a nationwide search to identify and honor 100 leaders who are changing rural communities and agriculture for the better. The top 100 honorees are being recognized for their exceptional contributions to their communities, and were announced at a National Ag Day event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“Farm Credit has supported rural communities and agriculture for 100 years, and we understand the vision and commitment it takes to remain successful as rural America evolves and changes,” said Todd Van Hoose, president and chief executive officer of the Farm Credit Council. “The Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives honorees are inspiring examples of leaders who are creating a brighter, more vibrant future for rural America.”

Three Montanans made the top 100 list:

Owner, Homestead Cattle Company and Powder River Meat Company
When Travis Choat and his wife, Tamara, lived in the Midwest for his career in corporate agriculture, they missed their roots in Oklahoma and Montana, and always dreamed of being farmers and ranchers.

They knew, though, that production ag was tough to break into without joining an established family business. When Tamara’s parents offered them the opportunity to lease and purchase a feedlot and farm and start their own enterprise, they didn’t think twice about leaving salaries and security.

“I'm inspired by a sense of achievement and growing something that contributes more than it consumes,” Travis says. “My goal is to create an organization that provides for society and builds others up.”     

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JAY AND COLLEEN MEYER  Stevensville, Montana
Founders and Operators, Ravalli County 4th Grade Farm Fair
Former teacher and current rancher Jay Meyer and his wife, Colleen, are working to provide direct hands-on education about agriculture to youth through the Ravalli County 4th Grade Farm Fair, which Jay launched in 1992 as an extension of the “Ag in Montana Schools” curriculum.

The Farm Fair provides a variety of educational sessions – 20 in all – for area fourth-grade students. Sessions cover traditional agriculture commodities as well as natural resource management, interactive processes like rope making and “cowboying,” and local highlights like apple production and bee keeping.

“For many students, teachers and chaperons this may be their first exposure to the many aspects of agriculture,” says Jay. ”Our goal is to teach the diversity of agriculture through the twenty interactive learning stations.”  

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High School Student
When Riley Slivka was 12, he documented his family's wheat and barley harvest near Winifred, Montana, through a video he shared on YouTube. He soon realized the impact that he could have in teaching people how food is produced, and continued producing videos showing activities on his family’s farm. Thousands of people viewed his video about shipping cattle, and his harvest videos have been shared across the country.

At 17, Riley invested money he’d earned from freelance video projects into a drone equipped with a high resolution camera. In between hauling semi loads of wheat, he filmed the harvest in the Missouri River Breaks, producing a dramatic video that spread across Facebook and Twitter. It captured the attention of Montana Senator Steve Daines, who named Riley “Montanan of the Week” for his efforts in Ag Advocacy.

“Many people in this world have no idea on how their food ends up on their tables, as they are often three generations removed from the farm. I believe that people should know about the work farmers do to help deliver their next meal,” says Riley.

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The Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives program is the cornerstone of Farm Credit’s 100th anniversary of supporting rural communities and agriculture. The search took place between July and December 2015, and netted more than 1,000 nominations from all 50 states. Selected by a panel of experts on rural matters, including Farm Credit leaders and others from around the agriculture industry, the top 100 honorees represent the very best of those positively shaping what is next for rural communities and agriculture.

One such leader is Laos native Maykia Xiong, an IT professional and North Carolina poultry farmer, who helps fellow Hmong producers with limited English skills access important USDA programs. Recognized in the Mentoring and Volunteerism category, Xiong said, “Through my struggles and hardship with financial institutions, integrators and government programs, I want to make resources available to assist Hmong-American farmers in all aspects of their farming needs.”

A dedication to helping others is a strong theme across the Fresh Perspectives honorees. Marc Breslaw represents the NRECA International Foundation, a branch of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) that represents 900 consumer-owned electric cooperatives in America. These co-ops bring electricity to more than 2,500 of America’s counties, including the most rural. NRECA International does the same for communities in underdeveloped countries. Breslaw says, “We recognize the transformative impact that access to power has on people, and we’ve worked to bring electricity to rural communities in 42 nations around the world.”

Honoree Addy Battel, demonstrates that a strong commitment to making a difference can start young – in Cass City, Mich., she is already a driving force in her community. She helped start a junior high FFA chapter and a 4-H club, serving as president for both, and has been instrumental in starting a hunger relief project, a dairy education clinic, and her own maple syrup and meat businesses. Just 13 years old, Battel is a student, volunteer, mentor and advocate for agriculture, and is already focused on the future. “I believe the future of agriculture depends on our future generations, the agriculturalists like my friends and me who are still young. But we don’t need to wait to make a difference. Even if we can’t vote or drive, we are agvocates and we can educate and create a better future now.”

The Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives selection panelists evaluated nominations of individuals and groups who demonstrate influence, leadership and innovation in the following categories:

  • Agriculture Education and
  • Community Impact
  • Beginning Farmer or Rancher Achievement
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Financial Stewardship
  • Leadership (21 and up)
  • Mentoring and Volunteerism
  • Rural Policy Influence
  • Rural and Urban Connection
  • Sustainability and Natural Resources
  • Youth Leadership (under 21)

“It was truly inspiring to learn more about individuals and organizations dedicated to making a meaningful difference every day,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO, National 4-H Council, Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives selection panelist, and moderator of the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives honoree panel. “After reviewing the nominations of so many exceptional leaders, I am proud to say the future of rural communities and agriculture is remarkably bright.”

The top 10 honorees — one from each nomination category — will receive a $10,000 award to help further their contributions to thriving rural communities and agriculture, and be recognized in Washington, D.C. at a special Farm Credit 100 event in June.

To learn more about the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives honorees, visit

Source:  Farm Credit
Farm Credit supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services, today and tomorrow. Farm Credit has been fulfilling its mission of helping rural America grow and thrive for a century by providing farmers with the capital they need to make their businesses successful and by financing vital infrastructure and communication services. For more information about Farm Credit please visit

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