Nodaway County Extension Awards

2018 Nodaway County State Fair Farm Family

Honor Family in foreground. Left to right, Allison Blackford, Ryker Blackford, Maddox Blackford, Dawson Blackford, and Cody Blackford

Also in the picture behind the family are:  (left to right): Marshall Stewart, Vice Chancellor for MU Extension and Engagement, Blake Hurst, President of Missouri Farm Bureau, State Fair Queen 2018 Samantha Nelson, State Fair Commissioners, Nikki Whitehead and Ted Sheppard, Christine Chin, Director of Missouri Dept. of Agriculture, and Christopher Daubert, Dean of MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Cody and Allison Blackford and family of Maryville were among the families honored during the 60th annual Missouri Farm Family Day, Aug. 13 at the Missouri State Fair.

The Blackford family was selected as the Nodaway County Missouri Farm Family by University of Missouri Extension in Nodaway County and the Nodaway County Farm Bureau. The family includes Ryker, Maddox, and Dawson.

Each year, the fair sets aside a day to recognize farm families from across the state that are active in their communities, involved in agriculture, and/or participate in local outreach and extension programs such as 4-H or FFA.

The Blackford family operates Legacy Lane Farms, a 50 head cow/calf operation.  Along with their farm operation and chasing three boys, Cody works as a seed salesman for Beck’s Hybrids and Allison works at Gardner Family Dentistry.  Ryker is a first grader, Maddox is in pre-school, both at St. Gregory’s, and Dawson is two years old.  The Blackford family is active in the First Christian Church.  They are active members of the Nodaway County Cattleman’s Association.  Cody served as the president in 2016 and 2017.  They are new members of Missouri Farm Bureau.  Cody and Allison both grew up being members of 4-H and FFA.  Showing livestock has continued being part of their lives, as they exhibited their Simmental cattle at the Missouri State Fair this year. 

The annual event is sponsored by five partner agencies: the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Missouri State Fair Commissioners, the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and MU Extension and Engagement.

This year, all 114 Missouri counties plus the City of St. Louis participated, honoring nearly 490 people from 115 farm families.

The event showcases the impact Missouri Farm Families have on the economy and heritage of the state, said Missouri State Fair Director Mark Wolfe. “These families are involved in agriculture activities in their communities and are active participants in local outreach and extension. As the premier showcase for Missouri agriculture, the Missouri State Fair is most certainly the appropriate place to celebrate these families.”

Prior years State Fair Family


2017 Ag Hall of Fame

Richard and Lois Brand

Richard was born during the Great Depression on his parents’ farm west of Hopkins, and as a boy plowed corn with a mule.  While in high school, he became a charter member of the Hopkins Future Farmers of America.  He was drafted into the United States Army after high school and served as a supply sergeant in Korea.  Lois grew up on the Earl and Cuma Alexander farm south of Hopkins.  Selling cream and eggs in town on Saturday night is now a fond memory.

Richard and Lois began their agricultural life journey together in 1956, renting and eventually purchasing and moving to the Russ Allen farm east of Hopkins.  They worked side-by-side, cleaning up the farm, putting up hay, farrowing sows, calving beef cows and milking 18 dairy cows by hand, with two small children in tow.  The little farm house they made their home had no running water, let alone tight windows and doors.

As their family grew, so did their farm.  Agriculture community work was also a priority.  Lois served as a 4-H club leader and instructor for clothing, foods and child development, and Richard sponsored a swine production unit.  Many nights were spent working at men’s church suppers, community club dinners, Hopkins Picnic food stands, BINGO tents, and singing in a quartet for community and church events.  It was important to them to raise their four children in church, even as the demands of farming were always present.

In 1968 the couple purchased the McCleave farm, located on a high hill south of Hopkins, and Richard and Lois began painstakingly building the farmstead into the showplace it is today.  Good stewardship of the land has always been a priority and the hard work cleaning up and improving the farmsteads was foremost.  Over ten miles of terraces built; field tile placed, roads raised, barns straightened, miles and miles of fence rows cleared and rebuilt, grain storage added, ponds constructed, and pastures improved with some land also enrolled into the Conservation Reserve Program.  For many years, soybeans were stored, cleaned and bagged to sell as seed the following spring.  Careful management, breeding and selection has always been integral to their operation, marketing the corn crop on the hoof to hedge against low commodity prices.  Richard was an early adopter of efficient confinement operation, with one of the largest farrow-to-finish swine operations in the area.  The cattle operation also consisted of an efficient feedlot operation with upright silos, a concrete feeding system and nutrition-tested feeding program.  These silos have become a local landmark, and travelers south of Hopkins still enjoy the Christmas Star atop the tallest silo.

Membership in Farm Bureau and Pork Producers were avenues for promoting agricultural products and producers.  Richard was asked by the National Pork council to represent hog farmers by testifying before a USDA panel in Washington DC regarding sulfa residue in pork.  They also promoted “The Other White Meat” by volunteering several years at the Missouri State Fair Pork Chop Tent in Sedalia.  For years, Lois kept the farm records through the Missouri Farm Record Keeping System.

Richard was chairman of the county ASCS committee and president of the Hopkins School Board.  He also served on the board of the local 102 Valley Bank, and as a deacon and pulpit search committee chairman at church.  Lois served on the Hopkins Community Club, Christian Women’s Fellowship, PEO, and helped work to establish the Hopkins Housing Corporation, serving as an officer since its formation.  They were proud hosts to foreign exchange students from Ecuador and Brazil.  They were named Nodaway County Farm Family in 1981.  Several summers they volunteered at Camp Quality and helped organize the Show-Me Tractor Cruise.

Still active on the farm and their agricultural community, they continue to volunteer in various capacities: organizing the local antique tractor show, Alumni Banquet registration, Hopkins Picnic quilt show and working for the NAFB scholarship foundation.  Blessed with a desire to honor agricultural history, Richard enjoys restoring antique farm machinery which have been featured on calendars, RFD TV and Farm Journal TV.  They are grateful to God for the privilege of working with His creation, and celebrated 60 years of marriage April 8, 2016.

Prior years Ag Hall of Fame


2017 Extension Leader Honor Roll

Each year, the Nodaway County Extension staff is given the opportunity to name outstanding community leaders to the University of Missouri Leader’s Honor Roll. This award recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond their call of duty on behalf of Extension. This year we would like to honor Willis Spire and Kenny Wilmes.

Willis Spire and his family have been longtime supporters of MU Extension and the 4-H program in Nodaway County. He and his family were active in the Northeast Blue Jays 4-H Club in Ravenwood and Parnell. Along with being an active club leader, Willis is known for his dedication to the countywide 4-H Shooting Sports Program. For 20 years, he has served as a certified 4-H Shooting Sports project leader and has served as the shotgun project leader. He is a positive role model for youth, an example for other adult volunteers, and is a true supporter of the University of Missouri’s overall mission.

Kenny Wilmes, was instrumental in developing the Nodaway County 4-H/FFA Livestock Show and Sale Committee. He encouraged Nodaway County FFA instructors to participate in the annual 4-H/FFA County livestock show planning process alongside the Nodaway County 4-H Leaders. He served for many years as the show’s Beef superintendent and as the Chairperson of the Sale. Kenny retired from teaching Ag at West Nodaway High School, but continues to be a supporter of the  4-H and FFA program and University of Missouri Extension.

Prior years Extension Leader Honor Roll


2017 Missouri Century Farm









The Missouri Century Farm program is jointly administered by the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Farm Bureau.

John Andrew Bliley Farm – Joseph Bliley, Robert & Mary From, From Farms– 129 acres near Stanberry has been in the family since 1903. (pictured left)

Willson Farm – Danny & Tonya Willson – 197 acres near Barnard has been in the family since 1901. (pictured right)

Nicholson Farm – Russell & Kay Nicholson – 139 acres near Hopkins has been in the family since 1917. (not pictured)

Prior years Missouri Century Farms