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McCook Central FFA seniors Kyle Butzke, left, and Blake Pulse serve hotdogs and hamburgers during the second annual harvest meal sponsored by the McCook Central FFA chapter and First Dakota National Bank on Monday in the Central Farmers Coop building next to the grain elevators in Salem. (Matt Gade / Republic)

McCook Central FFA helps local farmers celebrate harvest

SALEM — The wet harvest agriculture producers are experiencing this year didn't stop area farmers from enjoying burgers and hot dogs at the harvest cookout Monday in Salem.

In its second year of hosting the cookout, First Dakota National Bank joined the McCook Central FFA chapter to celebrate the hard-working area farmers who are in the midst of harvest season.

"This cookout is all about the farmers," said Rylee Klinkhammer, an FFA member and senior at McCook Central High School. "It's special to see our community gather in support of area farmers, because they are a vital component of the state and world for that matter."

As kids growing up in an agriculture community, the McCook Central FFA chapter knows farming never stops, which prompted the group to offer free lunches that they would deliver to farmers who were in the field and unable to attend the cookout.

"Since many of us here have been raised on a farm, we understand that farming can be a 24-hour job, especially during harvest," said Klinkhammer, while he lathered ketchup on his burger. "Last year, we had close to 80 farmers that ordered a box lunch, but the rain we are experiencing today has less farmers in the field."

A familiar face in the crowd at the cookout was Terry Rieckman, FFA adviser and agriculture teacher, who has led the rich history of success within McCook Central's FFA chapter.

"It's great to see First Dakota National Bank join us in supporting farmers and harvest season," said Rieckman, who is currently in his 35th year at the helm.

Rieckman said his FFA members supply the help — which includes serving the farmers in attendance — while First Dakota National Bank supplies the rest.

As members of the FFA chapter were serving side dishes next to the grill, spirits were high since the land and range judging team are coming off the heels of a first place finish at the southeast Land and Range Judging Contest on Oct. 2 in Brandon Valley.

The land and range judging team's first place finish in Brandon Valley solidified a birth to compete in the National FFA Convention.

"I am proud of our team, and they are a great group of kids," Rieckman said in between sharing laughs and handshakes with area farmers.

Klinkhammer noted the harvest cookout also serves as a great team building experience that helps rejuvenate the FFA chapter heading into the national and state contests, which begin in the spring.

"Not only are we able to talk to area farmers and show our support to them during this cookut, but it's also a good team bonding experience for our FFA chapter," Klinkhammer said.

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