John E. Elsing of Mansfield, South Dakota, Eminent Farmer for 1971, arises each morning from the same bedroom in which he was born 63 years ago to look out the living room window at the “anchor” of his life—his church, which he can see on the other side of his broad front yard. Yet the world of this farmer extends far beyond these tree-arched acres of rich, black Spink County soil.
Mr. Elsing has been chairman of the Spink County Extension Board since 1951, is a member of the South Dakota Crop Improvement Association, has served on the Brown County Crop Improvement Association’s Board of directors for several years, was state chairman of the Extension Advisory Council and is vice president of the South Dakota Agricultural Advisory Council for the College of Agriculture at SDSU.
The Spink County farmer also has been active in musical and church activities. As president of the church’s men’s club, Mr. Elsing encouraged the Lutheran group to plant a crop improvement association test plot nine years ago. The church now sponsors a popular annual Sunday evening test plot tour, followed by a watermelon feed.
As chairman of the Spink County Extension Board, Mr. Elsing was instrumental in getting the $35,000 county fair and 4-H agricultural complex at Redfield started. In addition, he was on the local committee to raise funds for the Memorial Arts Center at Brookings.
All of their children play musical instruments and a daughter, Evelyn Louise, now 23, toured Russia last spring as a cellist for the University of Michigan Chamber Choir. She is studying at the Juilliard School of Music at Lincoln Center Plaza, New York City. Son, James, 26, teaches at SDSU’s College of Engineering; son John, 32, is a mechanical engineer with Control Data in Minneapolis; and daughter Elinor, 34 (Mrs. W. D. George, St. Louis, Missouri), earned a B.S. degree in music at Northern.
On John’s 680-acre, diversified farm, he has adopted an electric fence feeding system for his herd of production tested purebred Angus cows to minimize feeding losses. The Spink County farmer incorporated rotation pasture into his operation which increased cow-carrying capacity by a third.
Mr. Elsing restores antiques and early-day farm implements, he enjoys hunting, working with wrought iron, smoking sausage, bird watching and savors beauty of the country—the sights, sounds and smells.