Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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Dick Baker, inducted to the Eastern Idaho Ag Hall of Fame


Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame – 2012


Idaho Falls--Five of eastern Idaho’s most distinguished leaders in the agriculture industry will be inducted into the 40th Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame during the annual Recognition Dinner

March 23.


This year’s inductees are Dick Baker, a long-time rancher and conservationist from Clayton; V. Don Olson, cattle rancher from Salmon; Daniel H. Mickelson, dairy producer from Grace; Pete McGarry, horse and cattleman of Hamer, and Stan Gortsema, longtime Power County Extension Agent from American Falls.


The Recognition Dinner will be held at O’Callahan’s in the Idaho Falls Shilo Inn Convention Center. A no-host social hour begins at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. The event is open to all interested persons. Tickets are $25 and can be obtained from the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce at 630 W. Broadway or from any of the 30 members of the Hall of Fame Board of Directors.


The nominees’ biographies appear below.


Dick L. Baker

Clayton, Idaho


Dick Baker of Clayton is being inducted into the 2012 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for his contributions to outstanding environmental stewardship for private and public lands. He has proven that raising cattle and environmental stewardship go hand in hand.

Baker gren the East Fork of the Salmon River just a few miles upriver from where he and his wife Betty live today. Born in 1922, Dick grew up on his family ranch helping from a very young age feeding and milking cows, irrigating, harvesting and stacking hay. As a young man, Baker served in the military and was honorably discharged after being called home to help run the ranch following a horse and wagon accident that left his father crippled. Along with his older brother, Baker took over management of the ranch at an early age. The original homestead, which has been in the family for six generations, remains in the Baker family today.

Baker’s ranch is located in the middle of Custer County which is comprised of 97% public land. As a result, the use of public lands is essential to the survival of his family’s ranch. Without the ability to graze his cattle on federal allotments, the ranch would not be able to sustain his operations and family. To help ensure the future of agriculture, Baker has been a long-term, active member of the Challis Experimental Stewardship Program, one of three in the country established under the Public Rangeland Improvement Act in 1978. This action led to the development of allotment management plans, mitigation of stocking reductions, range improvements providing better livestock distribution, and development of irrigated early spring use pastures to relieve pressures on lower range and privately owned hay land and pastures.

Working alongside numerous state and federal agencies, Baker’s commitment to environmental stewardship has included long hours in the saddle, ensuring his cattle were utilizing uplands and not disturbing riparian watersheds, packing salt, fixing fence and improving watering sites. His management techniques not only increased the productivity of his cattle and rangelands, but also increased wildlife habitat on thousands of acres of rangelands in the Custer County area.

Due to the hard work of six generations of Bakers, including Dick, the public is able to enjoy wide, open spaces. The true grit, perseverance, determination and hard work of Dick Baker and his family has made the East Fork what it is today, including the green, lush fields, abundance of wildlife and clear water full of fish.


V. Don Olson

Salmon, Idaho


V. Don Olson of Salmon is being inducted into the 2012 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions to conservation, community involvement and ranching in the Lemhi Valley.

Although he would rather be known as a cowman, Olson is an excellent crop manager. He is considered to be among the leaders in native and improved wet meadows operations in Central Idaho. He also has a keen interest in draft horses and mules. Along with his family, Olson participates in parades, gives rides, feeds cattle and enjoys various competitions. Olson, his family and their livestock have been featured in various publications including “The Draft Horse Journal” and “Western Mule Magazine”.

Always the cattleman, Olson was able to purchase a portion of the Joe Tonsmeire Ranch on Geertson Creek in 1995. The transaction was brokered by the Nature Conservancy. This was the first transaction in the Lemhi Valley in which the value of a non-development conservation easement was used to reduce the value of a ranch so it could be purchased for its agricultural value.

Active in public life, Olson was elected to the ASC County Committee where he served as a member and chairman for several years. He was elected to the Lemhi County Cattle and Horse Growers Board of Directors and served in all offices for that organization. In 1988 he became a director of the Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame and has served as chairman of the Board.

Of all his public involvement, however, Olson is best known as chairman of the Model Watershed Project Advisory Committee since its formation in 1993. This project has developed into the Upper Salmon Basin Watershed Program. Since its inception, the program has sponsored or been involved in over 600 projects to enhance wildlife, particularly Endangered Species Act listed species in the Salmon River Basin. Don has also been involved in the negotiating committee attempting to reach a conservation agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service for the past 11 years. This proposed agreement must be practical, achievable and protect all ranchers in the Lemhi Basin. Olson’s practicality and knowledge of the Lemhi Basin has been invaluable in representing ranching interests in these negotiations.


Daniel H. Mickelson

Grace, Idaho


Daniel Mickelson of Grace will be inducted into the 2012 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for his efforts in improving the Holstein breed and dairy industry in Idaho.

Born in 1928 in Lago, Idaho, Mickelson started taking part in the family farm at an early age. By ten years of age, he was driving the horse teams that powered their family farm equipment. He often drove a team of four horses abreast to pull harrows and discs for field work. He also drove the four horses to help his father build farm roads and ditches.

Through his years of farming, Mickelson has experienced big changes in the dairy industry. His father’s family sold their milk in ten gallon cans. Then he saw the industry change to use small bulk tanks; and finally to large bulk tanks as dairies got bigger and the Holstein breed became high milk producers. Mickelson had a bulk tank that would hold 1600 gallons of milk. Mickelson’s dairy herd grew from a single cow, which he raised as a 4-H project on his father’s farm, to 250 head of his own animals. He sold only Grade A quality milk in all his years as a dairy farmer.

Mickelson developed his dairy herd into a purebred operation of all registered Holsteins. He had great success in selling young bulls for breeding stock. He also sold Holstein bulls in Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. He showed his dairy cattle at shows all over the intermountain west including the Caribou County Fair for over 42 years and the Eastern Idaho State Fair for over 40 years. He has had great success in the show ring. His cows produced well and were also sold for excellent breeding stock. Mickelson has had cows sold to places as far away as New York state and Japan.

Mickelson has provided extensive service to the different dairy associations in Idaho and was elected as a delegate to the National Holstein Association six times. This opportunity allowed him to better help the Holstein breed in Idaho by bringing valuable information to the state’s dairy farmers.

Pete McGarry

Hamer, Idaho


Pete McGarry of Hamer is being inducted into the 2012 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for being a steward of the land and people in Eastern Idaho. His contributions to agriculture are in natural resource conservation, the cattle and horse industry, and as a spokesman for agriculture and ranching.

Growing up on the family ranch in Kilgore, McGarry rode a horse before he could walk. The ranch was an idyllic place for McGarry to learn range stewardship, how to operate a cow/calf operation and horsemanship. He became an expert at packing sawbucks and panniers to balance a load on the back of a pack animal. This skill was used often packing into remote areas when he worked on a dude ranch and for the Bridger National Forest where he packed in chemicals on horses to control pine beetles. McGarry later shared and taught his packing skills to 4-H Club Members and special interest groups.

After serving in the U.S. military, McGarry returned to McGarry Ranches in Kilgore to help his father. Due to his expertise he was appointed as the Clark County Assessor and served in this position for three terms.

McGarry has been very involved in soil and water conservation efforts in western Jefferson County. His leadership helped the Mud Lake Soil and Water Conservation District promote and secure funding to improve irrigation water management and reduce wind erosion. Improved irrigation water management is evident with laser land leveling and state of the art irrigation sprinkler systems. These irrigation improvements along with the implementation of best management practices have significantly improved crop yields and reduced wind and water erosion in the Mud Lake, Terreton and Monteview areas. Three years ago the Mud Lake District joined the Jefferson District and McGarry continues to serve as an elected member of the combined districts.

At his farm in Hamer, McGarry has raised grain, alfalfa and potatoes. Farming provided the means for the McGarry family operation to diversify and have a wintering area for their cow/calf operation.


Stan Gortsema

American Falls, Idaho


Stan Gortsema of American Falls will be inducted into the 2012 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for his extensive contributions to agriculture and community.

Growing up on the family owned ranch and farm near Grangeville, Gortsema learned how to raise wheat, barley, hay and to take care of one hundred head of Hereford/Angus cross cattle. He learned horsemanship skills in the local 4-H Horse Club led by his father. He was never too busy to find time to fish the Clearwater, Lochsa and Salmon Rivers.

After graduating from the University of Idaho, Gortsema secured a job with the Snake River Cattle Company in American Falls. From 1974-76 he was the confinement barn manager and lead rider of the cowboy crew.

With his passion for agriculture, Stan was hired by the U of I as the Extension Agent for Power County in 1976. He became Chairman Agent in 1984, retiring from the agency in 2010. For 34 years Stan was involved in anything and everything related to agriculture in Power County. He was in charge of the local 4-H Market Animal Program where Power County has one of the top grossing fat stock sales in Idaho. He helped organize the Power County Corn Growers Group which currently delivers approximately 412,000 bushels of corn to area markets. Gortsema has participated in many grain, sugar beet, corn and potato yield trials over the years.

He continues to serve as the ex-officio secretary of the Power County Fair Board and remains an active member of the Power County 4-H/FFA Livestock Sale Committee.

A hard red winter wheat variety called SRG is named for him. It is a dryland variety and is still in foundation seed production at the U of I Experiment Station in Aberdeen.

Gortsema has received many awards for his contributions to agriculture and community. Included in those awards are the Outstanding Service Award from the Southeast Idaho Chapter of University of Idaho Alumni, Grand Teton Council of Boy Scouts Salute a Community Leader Award, and National Association of County Agents Distinguished Service Award.


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