Ted Smith, an engineer at Sioux Valley Energy, Colman, S.D., took vacation last week to volunteer at Farm Rescue – the nonprofit that plants and harvests crops for farmers who have suffered a major illness, accident or natural disaster.
He was planting soybeans at the Gary and Linda Mark farm near Ypsilanti, N.D. Markhad fallen from ladder and broken his legs earlier in the winter.
Smith didn’t know the Marks, but was more than willing to volunteer.
“Farm Rescue helped a friend of mine a few years ago,” he says. “She had cancer and eventually died,” he says. “Volunteering is my way of honoring her.”
Smith says he discovered he enjoyed being around the people who volunteer for Farm Rescue. Most are retirees, but there are some like him who take time off work to help out. They come from all parts of the country and all walks of life.
The farmers that they plant for are very appreciative and treat them like family, Smith says.
“One lady hugged us when we done planting their job and told us we were angels sent from heaven."
“And where else would someone turn me loose with a $500,000 worth of equipment with all the latest technology?” asks Smith, who grew up on a farm and misses doing field work. “It’s a way to get my farming fix in.”
Bill Gross, Farm Rescue’s founder and president, says their ability to help families is “100% dependent upon some pretty amazing people - volunteers, sponsors and individual donors."
Farm Rescue has more than 300 sponsors and nearly 500 volunteers.
“They give of their time, talents and financial resources to help put a crop in the ground or harvest its bounty for families that are in crisis. Selfless acts. Selfless people. It doesn't get much better than that in our book!” he says.
For more information about Farm Rescue, see www.farmrescue.org.