Some great learning, as well as some fun, was had by those attending the SDARL alumni seminar in Kentucky recently. The group included Jesse Lewis (Class IV), Kevin Jaspers (Class IV), Terry Jaspers (Class III), Nicolien Hammink (Class V), Nancy Johnson (Class V) SDARL CEO Don Norton and several spouses spent the early part of August touring farms, thoroughbred horses, horse racing at the legendary Churchhill Downs, tobacco farming, and even how grains are used to make the infamous Kentucky bourbons.
The Alumni seminar started with a tour of Churchill Downs and later in the tour learned about thoroughbred horse breeding at WinStar Farms, which was the home of 2018 Triple Crown winner “Justify.” They also had some good conversations learning about generational seed stock on another farm as well as heirloom vegetables.
Another treat of the seminar was getting access to the Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program staff members. They were very welcoming and spoke with SDARL alumni during the study seminar in Kentucky.
Group members toured a couple of distilleries. In addition to a tour of one where the legendary brand of bourbon Maker’s Mark is made, participants also learned about all the handmade barrels used in the distilling process.
One of the last tours on the seminar itinerary was a look at tobacco farming. Tobacco farms used to be the predominant crop in Kentucky, but that’s changed significantly over the years. At one time there were over 60,000 tobacco farms in Kentucky, and now there are approximately 1,500. SDARL alumni toured one of the farms to learn about the labor-intensive crop and market challenges.
Overall, it was a very successful and much appreciated SDARL alumni seminar in Kentucky. Participants has a great time and as always learned a great deal about the variances in agriculture from the SDARL home state of South Dakota.