The Columbia Chamber of Commerce recognized outstanding members of the mid-Missouri agriculture community at its Agricultural Recognition Banquet on March 23. Jim Gesling of MFA Incorporated received the 2023 Agriculturalist of the Year award, which is given each year to an individual or organization that has gone above and beyond to help agriculture excel in Boone County. Scott Stone, agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at Centralia High School, received the Friend of Youth Award. This award recognizes those who have made a significant impact on the lives of children and youth involved in mid-Missouri. Charlie Hazelrigg of Battle High School received the Don Day Agribusiness & Bioscience Scholarship, a $1,000 award given to a Boone County student who plans to pursue a career in the Agriculture or Bioscience field at a local college or university.
Jim Gesling of Madison, Mo. has served the Boone County agricultural community for over 35 years during his tenure at MFA, from which he retired in December 2022. Gesling is known in his community for his willingness to pitch in and help local farmers and ranchers solve a wide variety of issues. He has also been involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs in Centralia, and his leadership was critical to the completion of Centralia Parks and Recreation’s baseball field renovation in 2018.
Scott Stone of Centralia, Mo. has committed his life and career to serving youth in agriculture since he arrived at Centralia High School in 1998. Under his leadership, Centralia’s FFA chapter was transformed from a group doing the bare minimum to one that has been honored with national awards, including top chapter in the state of Missouri.
The Agricultural Recognition Banquet is a partnership between the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and University of Missouri Extension and is now celebrating its 63rd year in Boone County.