Robert Lyons retired in 2006 after a 46-year career teaching biology and vocational agriculture in Jay County, Indiana, first at Portland High School and later Jay County High School. He is now a full time farmer with 1400 acres in production. A native of Bryant in northern Jay County, Lyons graduated from Purdue University in 1960 with a B.S. in Agricultural Education. He received his M.S. in Agricultural Education from Purdue in 1967.
Lyons has a distinguished record as an educator and a record of unequaled service to Jay County agriculture and to FFA programs. In 46 years, he built Jay County’s vocational agriculture program from 17 students with one instructor to 548 students and three instructors. He personally taught approximately 1,200 biology students and 4,000 vocational agriculture students during his career. His judging teams participated in 11 state crops contests; 12 state dairy contests; eight national and 12 state soils contests; and 18 national and 34 state poultry contests, winning the district poultry judging contest for 21 consecutive years. His FFA program produced over 200 Hoosier Farmers and 20 American Farmers.
For several years Lyons was the most successful FFA fundraiser in the state, and in 1985 he founded the Jay County High School FFA Foundation which now has more than $100,000 in its endowment in the Jay County Foundation for FFA member scholarships. He worked with other school staff, FFA members and the agriculture advisory board to build a state of the art greenhouse for $270,000, using no tax dollars. The greenhouse is widely believed to be the best high school greenhouse in the state. Other career accomplishments include the establishment of the annual Jay County High School Community/Parent/Member FFA Banquet, and the establishment of the FFA Summer Ag Experience (SAE).
Lyons is a 40-year member of the Jay County Fair Association’s board of directors, where he is recognized as the founder of the new, successful fair. More than 20 years ago he developed Young McDonald’s Farm, an exhibit of young farm animals targeted to young audiences which is still an integral part of the county fair exhibits.. He also was responsible for developing the “Jayland Classics” display more than 10 years ago which now fills a 4000 square foot exhibit area with antique equipment and historical artifacts. He has also been active in the community as a 46-year 4-H leader and as a member of the Tri-State Antique Engine Association. And for 32 years he has served as the Pike Township Trustee/Assessor. As a farmer, he is now active in the promotion of the development of wind energy and alternative, renewable fuels.
His professional memberships include: Indiana and National Agriculture Teachers Association (46 years); Jay/Portland Classroom Teachers (46 years); Indiana State Teachers Association (46 years); National Educational Association (life member; 46 years); and Indiana Township Trustees Association (32 years).
Lyons was honored for his work with the Jay County Fair when he was inducted into the Indiana Association of County and District Fairs Hall of Fame in 1987. Governor Mitch Daniels named him a Sagamore of the Wabash in 2008.
Ned Kalb is a consultant specializing in agricultural and economic development for several projects in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. He retired in 1997 from Purdue Extension, after spending more than 20 years of his 33-year career as the county extension director in two of Indiana’s most populous counties, LaPorte (1974-89) and Marion (1989-97). A native of Elkhart County, Kalb graduated from Purdue University in 1963 with a B.S. in Agriculture, and earned his M.S. in Extension Education in 1966, also from Purdue.
Kalb distinguished himself during his Purdue Extension career as a leader in community and leadership development, building partnerships among various community stakeholders to solve problems. Immediately after graduating from Purdue, he spent two years as the extension youth agent, followed by a year as the assistant radio editor in the Communication Department at Purdue. In 1967 he was hired as the agricultural extension educator in LaPorte County, an area he would serve for the next 22 years as both a county and area educator. He established a Row Crop Farmers organization that hosted numerous educational and farm management programs. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s he was on the cutting edge of agricultural programming, teaching computerized record keeping to farmers and agricultural banker. For two years as the area Community Development Agent (1972-74), he worked to build partnerships between Extension, local government and community leaders to solve the problems of a growing area and the problems of urbanization. For 15 years, from 1974-89, he was the County Extension Director for LaPorte County. He was a member of the county Plan Commission and the Park and Recreation Board, serving as president of each board. Kalb served for 15 years on the Board of Directors of the Greater LaPorte Chamber of Commerce as the representative for agriculture. During this time, he served on a Community Development Study Committee for the county and, identifying a need for qualified community leaders, helped to found LaPorte County Leadership, Inc. in the early 1980’s. The program continues to this day, providing 25 to 30 people per year with intensive leadership training. He also worked extensively with competing interest groups on issues of the Kankakee River Basin, an area important to agricultural production and environmental and wetland preservation, helping each side to achieve a portion of their objectives. He also worked with the Lt. Governor’s Commission on Agriculture and Rural Development, assembling data and leading the discussions dealing with activities of the Cooperative Extension Service. Kalb spent the last eight years of his Extension career (1989-97) as County Extension Director in Marion County, with responsibility for the community and economic development program.
After his retirement from Extension, Kalb worked on the Purdue-Krakow University project in Poland, helping to develop programs for information transfer for agricultural producers and businesses. Beginning in 1998, he consulted with Mercy Corps International on agricultural projects in both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. From 1998-2001, Kalb worked part-time for Winrock International’s Farmer-to-Farmer program as the program director for Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, assessing local needs and orienting volunteers and evaluating their efforts on behalf of local agriculture. He then spent a year as Winrock’s project coordinator for the Women’s Integrated Legal Literacy Project in Uzbekistan. Since 2002 he has managed a number of projects, including serving as managing director of Kelajak Ilmi, the International Business School in Uzbekistan through a University of Michigan partnership. He developed educational programs on nutrition and other factors affecting tuberculosis infection and recovery rates as a consultant for the Federation of the American Red Cross / Red Crescent Society of Uzbekistan. And he is currently the senior agribusiness advisor to the Small Enterprise Assistance Fund (SEAF) which facilitates funding of agricultural enterprises in rural communities. From 2006-2008, he has conducted several studies and produced recommendations for the Asian Development Bank for the development of cotton production and ginning enterprises in both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Kalb owns and manages a 250-acre family farm in northern Indiana, which includes 40 acres of woodlands and over 200 crop acres. His professional affiliations include: National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA); Indiana Extension Educators Association (IEEA) which he served as president 1985-86; Epsilon Sigma Phi and Gamma Sigma Delta. Kalb has been honored for his achievements with several professional and community awards: Outstanding Citizen – LaPorte Jaycees (1987); IEAA State Senior Community Development-Public Policy Award (1989); Epsilon Sigma Phi State Distinguished Service Award (1991); and NACAA Distinguished Service Award (1994).
Ralph Heine retired in 1993 after 43 years as the owner of Gobblers’ Retreat, his family’s Whitley County turkey and dairy farm. He graduated from Purdue University in 1950 with a B.S. degree in Agriculture.
A native of Auburn, Indiana, Heine moved with his family to Whitley County, when he was ten years old. After graduating from Purdue, Heine returned to the family farm in and worked with his father for a year before being inducted into the Army. He served for 21 months in the Army Transportation Corps in the Korean Conflict. He was discharged as a 1st Lt. and went back to the family farm where he would spend the rest of his noteworthy career. He started farming 50 head of dairy cows and continued to develop the turkey raising and processing operation. The Heine’s were early adopters of new production practices, one being strip pasturing of the turkey flock on Ladino clover. In 1966, Heine took over the operation of the farm from his father, and sold the dairy cows to allow his sole focus on the turkey operation. Under Heine’s leadership, Gobblers’ Retreat grew to 135 employees and processed between 10,000 and 11,000 birds per day, five days a week. Heine’s operation was one of the first innovators of further processed turkey parts, developing 35 different turkey products which were distributed regionally throughout Indiana and surrounding states. When Heine retired, Gobblers’ Retreat was the third largest operation in Indiana.
Heine was active in many community activities, often in support of agricultural enterprises or Purdue University. He was one of the early organizers of the Whitley County Soil and Water Conservation District, working with B. V. Widney, the Whitley County Purdue Extension educator. He also helped, in 1965, to organize the Whitley County Chapter of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association, which remained active until the mid-1990’s. Heine was also active in Indiana Farm Bureau, serving as the president of the Whitley County Farm Bureau for three years and as the Rural Youth Chairman for three years. He served for four years on the Whitley County 4-H Board.
Heine also established himself as a local political leader. He was chairman of the Whitley County Young Republicans for two years and chairman of the Whitley County Republican Party for three years. In 1967 he was elected as a State Representative in the Indiana General Assembly, where he served until 1975. From 1973-75 he served as the Majority Caucus Chairman, a position that allowed him to work on behalf of agricultural and education issues, including those important to Purdue.
Heine’s service to the poultry industry included serving two years as president of the Indiana State Poultry Association and two years as president of the Indiana State Turkey Association. He was a member of Purdue Dean of Agriculture Richard Kohls’ advisory committee for two years. Heine is a lifetime member of the Lutheran Church and served in numerous leadership positions at the Zion Lutheran Church in Columbia City, including 18 years as a Sunday School teacher.
Heine has been honored by being selected to the Purdue ROTC Hall of Fame. Both Governor Otis Bowen and Governor Frank O’Bannon named Heine a Sagamore of the Wabash.
Max Miller retired in 1996 after serving Purdue Extension for 36 years as a county educator, the last 26 years as County Extension Director in Vigo County. Miller graduated from Purdue University in 1959 with a B.S. degree in Agriculture. In 1963 he received his M.S. in Agricultural Extension and Community Development from Purdue.
From 1960 to 1970 Miller was an extension educator in Hamilton, LaPorte and Huntington counties, serving as County Extension Director in Huntington County 1966-70. As County Extension Director in Vigo County, Miller left his mark in many ways, but particularly distinguished himself as a champion of Purdue Agriculture in the Wabash Valley region and as an exemplary leader in community and economic development. The crown jewels of Miller’s legacy in Vigo County include the establishment of an industrial park; establishment of two wetland park reservations, including one of more than 1,200 acres along the Wabash River; development of an exemplary county park system that includes a Pioneer Village and a 15-mile Heritage Trail and which he led as board president for 14 years; and the founding of Leadership Terre Haute in 1977 (now Leadership Wabash Valley) that has now prepared more than 900 citizens to assume leadership roles in the community.
Miller has served on virtually every community development group in Vigo County, and he has continued to be active since his retirement. In the 1970’s his leadership of the Alliance for Growth & Progress led to the establishment of several other economic development groups, as well as the industrial park. Miller’s work with Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce led to establishing their first Agribusiness Committee which resulted in bringing the 1995 Farm Progress Show to Vigo County. He served on the Chamber’s strategic arm, Terre Haute Tomorrow from 1991 to 2007, resulting in success stories including: the establishment of a community master plan; establishing a brand, Terre Haute: A Level Above; organization of the Terre Haute Neighborhood Association; enhancement of the trail system and creation of Wabash River Development & Beautification, Inc. As chairman of the latter organization, Miller has established the 1,200 acre Wabash River National Road Wetland Reservation; his personal efforts raised over $2.5 million for the land acquisition. Since 2001 he has served on the Chamber’s Washington, DC Legislative Committee. Miller also helped found Trees, Inc. (1991-present; president, 1992-95) which has added more than 2,000 hardwood trees to Terre Haute, and he worked to get an urban forester for the local park system.
During the 1980’s and 1990’s, Miller worked on behalf of fellow Extension educators, first serving on a committee that formulated a plan to reduce Extension’s administrative structure and develop a new organizational structure to bring staffing levels in line with available resources. Later he worked with members of the Indiana General Assembly to secure resources to bring Extension educators’ salaries in line with classroom teachers, as well as to remove the cap on retirement benefits that was in existence at that time.
Miller’s professional memberships include: Indiana Extension Agents Association (1960-present; chairman of interest committee 1994-95); Community Development Society (1970-96; president 1984); and Epsilon Sigma Phi (1960-present). Miller’s other community service and leadership roles include: Kiwanis Club (1965-present); Wabash Valley Fair Board (1970-1996); Hamilton Center Mental Health Center (board 1991-2002, 2005-present; president 1999-2003); Leadership Terre Haute (1977-present; president 1980 and 1998); Vigo County Park Board (1970-1996; president 1970-1984); Terre Haute Children’s Museum Board (2005-present); and Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association (1959-present; board member 1994-2007). After retirement, he made 3 trips (1996-2001) to Poland and Slovakia as a representative of Purdue Agriculture helping to develop and extension education model in those countries. He is active in the Memorial United Methodist Church (1970-present) where he has served as a Sunday School teacher and on the Board of Trustees and the Administrative Council, and as a Lay Leader (1995-2006). He has also done volunteer work as an agriculture missionary to Russia.
Miller has been recognized by many organizations for his accomplishments and service, including: Farm Foundation Award (1968); Outstanding Citizen Award – Jaycees (1975); Purdue Extension Innovator Award (1979); Alan Rankin Service Award – Leadership Terre Haute (1983 and 2001); Handclasp Award – Kiwanis (1986); USDA Certificate of Distinction (1987);Terre Award (1989); Indiana Extension Agents Association Senior Award (1990); National Extension Meritorious Service Award (1993); Wabash Valley Fair Award (1997); Mighty Oak Award – Trees, Inc. (2003); Optimist Book of Golden Deeds (2005) and International Service Award for Poland and Slovakia. In 1996, Governor Evan Bayh named him a Sagamore of the Wabash.
James Smoker is semi-retired from Smoker Farm, his family’s beef and grain operation in LaPorte County. He is also the co-owner of Mitchell and Schoppel, the International Harvester dealer in LaCrosse, as well as co-owner of BJSS Storage in Wanatah. He was a 10-year 4-Her in his native LaPorte County and is a U.S. Army veteran (1955-56). The family farm has been under his leadership since the 1950’s, during which time he has transformed it from a typical mid-century small, diverse livestock, forage and grain farm into the highly-specialized beef cattle production farm that it is today.
Smoker is a progressive farmer and cattleman, who has experimented with feed sources to improve efficiency and profitability and, recognizing the opportunities that his visible location on US 30 offers, places a premium on environmental stewardship. He built cattle handling facilities from recycled Harvestore silos to improve cattle movement and respect the welfare needs of the animals, and hosted a large Beef Field Day to demonstrate the new facility. He opened his operation to a rule-making group from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to learn about cattle feeding in the eastern Corn Belt, and he and his family assisted in the development of a video presentation on environmental compliance and new Indiana confined feeding rules. Smoker’s management practices have been featured in articles in Indiana Prairie Farmer, Nation’s Agriculture (American Farm Bureau Federation), Regional News, LaPorte Herald-Argus, South Bend Tribune and the Farmer’s Exchange. His farm has hosted the Indiana Farm Management Tour (1968); Indiana Beef Cattle Association Field Day (1981, 1996) and the Indiana Beef Evaluation and Economics Feeding (IBEEF) Program (1997-present). Smoker Farm was involved in IBEEF from its inception, feeding 144 steers from 14 producers the first year, and now having fed a total of 2,247, more than any other participating feedlot.
Locally, he has served a number of organizations, including: 4-H (volunteer leader 50+ years); South Central School Board (4 years); LaPorte County Fair Board (member 1991-present; vice president 2004-present; beef superintendent 1982-1995; auction committee; chair, 20-year plan committee); LaPorte County Soil & Water Conservation District; LaPorte County Extension Council; LaPorte County Row Crop Food Producers (charter member; host, 1990 annual farm/city barbecue; Ag Days participant); Beef Cattle Association, serving ribeye steaks and promoting beef at community events; and Indiana Farm Bureau (member for 53 years; 2008 voting delegate).
At the state level, Smoker has a lifetime of service as well. He was active in the Indiana Livestock Feeders Association, and played an important role in the merger that created the Indiana Beef Cattle Association (IBCA) in the early 1970’s. He has served IBCA as a director, executive council member, cattle feeder representative and as first vice president. As an IBCA volunteer, Smoker has recruited members for both state and national cattle organizations, and he has cooked Hoosier Ribeyes for activities throughout the state to promote beef and support IBCA’s programs.
Smoker has received a number of awards and recognition including: IBCA Outstanding Cattleman (1989); IBCA Lifetime Achievement Award (2000); Indiana Prairie Farmer Master Farmer (1996); Indiana 4-H Foundation 50th Clover for 50 years of volunteer leadership (2003) and Certificate of Recognition for invaluable contribution to the State of Indiana from U.S. Senators Richard Lugar and Dan Coats (1996).