The Fosters were honored recently with recognition for excellence in farming, farm living, homemaking and rural citizenship by Kansas Farmer magazine and Kansas State University's Research and Extension Service.
In addition, Lynda Foster was honored as the Kansas Dairy Leader for 2013 by the Kansas Interbreed Dairy Cattle Council.
The 2012 Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers from Bourbon County are the Fosters, who farm southwest of Fort Scott. They along with six other honorees were recognized at a banquet on March 15 in Manhattan.
"It was an honor. A lot of very worthy people prior to us got the award," Gary Foster said in an interview at their farm.
"We are blessed to produce the nation's most perfect food (milk). God's blessed us to be able to do what we enjoy doing," said Lynda Foster.
They have two sons, David and Adam Foster. David and his wife, Addi, and their three daughters: Ansley, 6 years old; Mayla, 4; and Davina, almost two years old; live on the farm. Lynda and Gary have 840 acres, David and Addi have 153 acres.
They currently have 145 milking and dry cows. Dry cows are those getting ready to have a calf and have a 60-day rest period where they are not milked, Lynda said. In one day this dairy farm produces over 1,000 gallons of milk, Lynda quickly calculated on her smartphone.
"That's 5,653 servings of three, 8-ounce servings a day, to provide the daily dairy requirement," Lynda Foster said.
In addition to their dairy operation, the Fosters also grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and grass hay on their farm, plus have pasture and CRP acres. The Fosters believe that being active in agricultural organizations, and having input into things that affect them on the farm, are just as important as the actual farming of the operation. A favorite activity of the family is to open their farms to dairy tours for school children, economic leader groups, legislators, 4-H groups, and also hosting dairy clinics and FFA dairy judging classes.
The whole family is passionate about helping show people what a dairy farm is like, even David's young daughters. The girls have heard the adults tell the story so much, that they often chime in, Addi Foster said.
Six Kansas farm couples may be selected to receive the recognition each year. Local councils and districts submit nominations and an appointed committee picks one couple from each area, plus two couples at large, according to the brochure from the K-State Research and Extension office.
Selection is based on review of a workbook prepared by the nominees, reflecting the growth and magnitude of their lifelong accomplishments for the years of their adult life. Special emphasis is placed on the following criteria: growth of the farm operation through the years, community activities and accomplishments of their children, according to the Kansas State Research and Extension website, www.ksre.ksu.edu, provided by Delta George, local K-State Extension Office Agriculture Agent.
In addition to being honored as a Kansas Master Farmer, Lynda Foster was also recognized as a leader in the dairy industry on March 16 in Manhattan and is the first female Kansas Dairy Leader in 60 years.
"The Kansas Dairy Leader Award is given to a person who has performed outstanding leadership in the dairy industry. Some of the leaders are or have been dairy farmers who have been leaders at the county, state, and national levels. Others have been leaders at the state and national level including breed association, production testing, and dairy educators and researchers. A committee from the Kansas Interbreed Dairy Council recommends ... the next dairy leader to be recognized. The first award was made 1952. Lynda was the 31st recipient and is the only lady to be recognized. She definitely deserved the award," Dr. Dick Dunham noted in an email interview. Dunham is also a Kansas Dairy Leader recipient, having received the award in 1991.
"I'm quite honored and humbled to get this award, having majored in dairy production at K-State...honored by my peers," Lynda Foster said.
The leader award is not annual event. The last one was given in 2008. Every Kansas Dairy Leader's portrait hands in Call Hall on the Kansas State University.
Other Kansas State Master Farmer and Master Homemaker award winners are Robert and Sharon Scherman, Paola, Miami County; John and Bernadine (Berna Mae) Stegman, Spearville, Ford County; Thomas and Marlysue Holmquist, Smolan, Saline County; Charles and Anita Hummel, Hope, Dickinson County; Leon and Janet Sylvester, Wamego, Pottawatomie County.
In addition, Master Farmers and Homemakers are invited to the annual Kansas Farm Bureau and Frontier Frontier Farm Credit business meeting and banquet, and are guests of the fair board at the grandstand show during the Kansas State Fair in September.