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AFR LEAD Golf Tournament raises over more than $11,000 for Veterans Farmer Coalition

Supporters of agriculture and the military raised more than $11,000 on Aug. 17 during the annual AFR LEAD golf tournament.  The event was held this year at Cherokee Hills Golf Course in Catoosa, Okla.

“This was a great event that showed our strong support for agriculture and military veterans,” said Terry Detrick, AFR president.

The AFR LEAD program is a diverse, flexible and innovative program assisting the needs of growing Oklahoma communities through informed leaders.

“By hosting this golf tournament we are providing leadership opportunities for our LEAD participants and we are supporting a worthy cause,” said Bailey Kliewer, AFR LEAD state council chair.

The Farmer Veteran Coalition, based in Davis, Calif., was started in 2007 as a way to create jobs on farms for military veterans returning from deployment.

The coalition has more than 4,500 veteran members.  According to the FVC website, 72 percent have post 9-11 service, 20 percent are ethnic minorities, 16 percent are women and a staggering 59 percent have service connected disabilities. 

Quoting directly from the FVC website, “Our vision of the future is an organization that will be around for decades, in every state and continuing to unite the agricultural sector – government, education, private industry, conventional and alternative farming and the veterans themselves. It will no longer be important to know how and when we began, but that we will be there, offering assistance to all those who chose to serve their country twice – once by defending it and once by feeding it.”

After a distinguished 20-year career in the Army, Joel Heinzeroth retired with the rank of major, and has started a ranch in southwest Oklahoma with an 80-head commercial cow herd.

 “This is therapy for me after serving in combat,” Heinzeroth said.

The Army veteran sees similarities between the military and agriculture.

“Both require a strong work ethic and a love of the outdoors,” Heinzeroth said.

He applied for a $5,000 fellowship grant through the FVC to purchase a Priefert cattle handling chute.

“My old equipment was old, difficult to use and not very safe,” Heinzeroth said.  “The new chute is safe, fast and efficient.”

He also learned about crowdfunding through the FVC.  He recently financed an overhead feed bin that allows him to store large amounts of feed for his cattle.

His goal is to build a ranch for his family, which includes wife Codie, daughter Emma, 8, and infant son Brett.

“I want to leave them something for the future, even if they don’t want to farm and ranch, at least they will have this land to use for whatever career they choose.

“We need partners like AFR to help us get the word out about FVC and how this can help military families,” Heinzeroth said.

The 18-hole golf event featured a best-ball, four-player scramble format with 80 golfers participating.  Prizes were awarded to the top three teams and winners of several side contests.

First place went to Coweta Insurance Agency of Coweta, Okla., consisting of Justin Richards, Kris Richards, Dustin Cook and Heath Ritzhaupt.

The second place team, Choctaw County Farmers Union Local 684 of Hugo, Okla., consisted of Ernie Taylor, Wally Schieffer, Clint Carpenter and Caleb Conn.

Coming in third was ServiceMasters of Oklahoma City, consisting of Brent Welborn, Spencer Prough, Dustin Sherry and Joe Halley.

Larry DeWitt, Cherokee, Okla., won the putting contest and Seth Smiley with Craig County Farmers Union of Vinita, Okla., won closest to the pin contest.

For more information about the AFR LEAD program, contact Megan Albright at [email protected] or (405) 218-5416.