The 2017 Farmer of the Year is Ed Funderburgh.
Funderburgh received the award alongside his family and wife, Terri, on Monday at the annual Urbana Rotary Rural Urban Night. The event was originally designed by the Urbana Rotary Club to foster understanding between farmers and city residents. The Farmer of the Year award began in 1972 to represent the entire farming community, Judge Roger Wilson said.
“I’m very humbled to be here,” Funderburgh said while accepting the award. “We (farmers) provide food, and it’s a business, but at the same time, you know you are providing the livelihood for a lot of people. It’s good to know it’s appreciated. It’s enjoyable to do.”
Wilson presented the award and background information on Funderburgh at the event.
Funderburgh, born in 1957, is the fifth of six children. He graduated from Triad High School in 1976. He played basketball and baseball while there. He went to Denison University for a year before transferring to Ohio State University and receiving his degree in agricultural economics.
Funderburgh met his wife at Urbana University as a result of a date mixup. They have five children, some of whom assist with the farming duties. The Funderburghs have a 1,200-acre farm, where they farm corn, beans and some wheat. They also maintain 2,500 head of hogs and produce 6,000 per year, Wilson said.
Funderburgh is a Rush Township trustee, a member of the Northeast Champaign County Fire board, an assistant girls basketball coach at Triad, a former 4-H advisor and a former pork council member.
Funderburgh said he was talking with Wilson about retirement and noted others say that they plan to do what they love when they retire.
“I’ve often said that when I retire, I’m not sure what I’d do, because I’m already doing what I love,” he said. “If I retire I’ll just keep farming.”
He added he may take more time to travel and visit family.
Acre of Corn Club
Also recognized at the event were the Rotary 2016 Acre of Corn Club members. The program allows farmers to donate the proceeds from the sale of an acre of corn to Rotary International’s drive to eradicate polio worldwide. The program, unique to Champaign County, has donated over $110,000 since the start of the program seven years ago, Rotarian Mike Terry said. The amount is matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Those donations have amounted to over a half a million inoculations for children.
Terry said in the seven years of the Acre of Corn program, polio occurrences have gone from 500 cases in four countries to fewer than 50 in two countries.
“You have helped make all this possible,” he said of the Acre of Corn Club donors.
The 2016 Acre of Corn Club participants are Bob and Gloria Ward, Bud Runyan, Mike Pullins, Alan Thompson, Dale Circle, Doug Hurst, David Clapp, Don Bauer, Steve Prince, the Michael Terry Family, Terry Howell, William Runyan, Jim and Nancy Virts, Lucy Millman, Bev and Ron Maurice, Tom and Pat Detwiler, John and Sandy Detwiler, Michael Farms, Tom Prince, Scott Haerr, Jason and Justin Dagger, Chuck Stadler, Todd McGuire, Paul and Michelle McGuire and Sons, Fred Maine, Burley and Pat Hall, and Ward Family Farms.
The event was catered by In Good Taste Catering and Mumford’s Potato Chip Co.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.