Ag Hall of Fame draws from our rich heritage

Close your eyes and think of the word toil.

We're guessing that what most of you think of is some aspect of farming.

It just seems to be the right word for the planting, harvesting, plowing, fertilizing, pruning and irrigating that goes on.

For us, mostly, it's the plowing.

So when the Mid-Columbia Ag Hall of Fame was started 11 years ago, we knew it was a special recognition that was extra special for this region.

This is country where wheat covers the hills and crops of all kinds grow in profusion.

The hall of fame has been sponsored for years by the Port of Pasco and the Pasco Chamber of Commerce.

The installation dinner is at 6 p.m. today at the Pasco Red Lion Hotel.

Five awards will be given:

-- Prosser cattle rancher Charlie Card will receive one of two Pioneer of the Year Awards for his work with the many cattlemen's associations.

He's an ambassador for agriculture, a patient teacher and a selfless volunteer.

Those who nominated him say that, by nature, he is a promoter of agriculture and the cattle industry. "It's part of his personality -- the man can't help himself. He even has patience for the sometimes challenging role as a spokesperson for the industry for local media, always willing to do an interview whether times are good or bad for the cattle industry," they said.

-- Orchardists Ralph and Cheryl Broetje share that designation of Pioneers of the Year.

They have built remarkable lives in agriculture while always thinking of others, both locally and globally. And they are generous.

"There aren't many folks who set out with the idealistic notion to have an orchard so hungry people in India could be fed -- and then succeed at just that mission," reads their nomination. As newlyweds near Benton City, they faced hardships, but persevered.

The Broetjes developed an orchard near Prescott and put apple trees where they never had been before, eventually growing to be one of the largest orchards in the nation. With 1,100 year-round employees and 1,000 seasonal laborers, the Broetjes invested in the dreams of their work force, putting $5 million into creating a village and a school near Prescott for their employees and their families.

They donate the proceeds from 50 acres of cherries to nonprofit programs here and abroad each year.

-- Farmer David Manterola will receive the Agri-Business Award for his work with the Franklin County Farm Bureau board and other farm organizations.

His love of farming combined with his college education sparked the entrepreneur in Dave and he started his own custom stacking business. He also was one of the first to tackle the tricky timothy hay in the Columbia Basin.

He has served as president of the Franklin County Farm Bureau for three terms and been awarded the Presidential Citation for Excellence four times by the state Farm Bureau.

He helped lead the effort to build a 90-bed housing compound for farm laborers near Ringold.

-- Barbara Davis, founder of the Clover Kids 4-H Club and open class sheep superintendent at the Benton Franklin Fair for many years, will receive the Agriculture Adviser of the Year Award.

She came to the Columbia Basin at age 4 to live on an irrigated farm in Block 16.

After graduating from college, and after she and husband William married, she introduced her children to the 4-H program. It was a decision that would prove invaluable to many young Franklin County children. She founded the venerable Clover Kids 4-H Club and supplied high-quality lambs at a low cost to 4-Hers.

As a volunteer 4-H leader, Barbara pushed the youngsters she worked with beyond the lessons of animal stewardship, emphasizing leadership, public speaking and record-keeping skills.

She also worked with youngsters on sewing, photography and crafts. She remains a quilting adviser through the Extension Office. Barbara, who has children in the military, spent many years as a volunteer for Support Our Troops.

-- Valoria Loveland, who retired in 2008 as director of the state Department of Agriculture, will receive the Agriculture Hall of Fame Visionary Award.

Loveland also is a former state senator whose expertise in agriculture helped her in writing the state budget during her years in Olympia before being appointed to the directorship of the Department of Agriculture.

Her work on behalf of farmers can be estimated by a quick scan of the Herald's electronic files: In the past seven years, more than 100 stories about Loveland and agriculture have been published.

And you may be sure that Loveland, Davis, Manterola, Card and the Broetjes all have more than a passing acquaintance with the meaning of toil.