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National Outstanding Young Farmers announced

February 15, 2022  by  Bree Rody

The winners of the National Outstanding Young Farmers (NOYF) for 2021 and 2022 were announced earlier this month at the annual NOYF Awards Congress in South Carolina. This year’s ceremony honored finalists from the past two years after postponing the event in 2021.

Winners for 2022 are:

  • Matt and Jenna Kilgus (Illinois);
  • Richie and Sarah Heinrich (North Dakota);
  • Hunter and Laura Grills (Tennessee); and
  • Joe and Ashley Dudkiewicz (Wisconsin).

Winners for 2021 are:

  • Matt and Melissa Bottoms (Georgia);
  • Hillary Barile (New Jersey);
  • Joroen and Traci van der Ploeg (New Mexico); and
  • Philip and Laura Finger (Wisconsin).

They were selected for their awards based on their progress in a career, extent of soil and water conservation practices and contributions to the well-being of their surrounding community. National winners received a savings bond from sponsor John Deere and the opportunity to represent the program at future agricultural events.


Matt and Jenna Kilgus are dairy farm owners, milking 150 Jerseys and raising other livestock including beef, hogs and goats. Hunter and Laura Grills are also beef cattle farmers as well as crop farmers. Joe and Ashley Dudkiewicz grow corn, soybeans, wheat, hat and cattle. Joroen and Traci van der Ploeg raise beef cattle along with their dairy operation, while Philip and Laura Finger operate a dairy while growing other crops.


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