More South Dakota children know where their food comes from today thanks to programs like Ag in The Classroom and the efforts of people like Gail Brock.
A third generation South Dakota farmer, Brock learned about a similar program while working as director of information for South Dakota Farm Bureau. She and a group of other volunteers helped launch the Ag in The Classroom program in the early 1990s.
"Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in South Dakota, and yet there are a number of children who don't know where their milk and bread comes from," said Brock, of why she and many other volunteers spent countless hours on the road visiting classrooms and working to spread the message of South Dakota's agriculture industry to school-age children and their families.
Thanks to their efforts, today, Ag in The Classroom is an established nonprofit with standardized curriculum and an executive director who keeps everything running smoothly.
Even though it was not an easy road, Brock's approach to giving of her time to launch the Ag in The Classroom program stems from a deep-rooted philosophy she applies to everything she does.
"We're all put here on Earth for a reason. We all have different talents and abilities, but it's our responsibility to use those talents for the good of others," she said in a matter-of-fact way. "I think the Lord opens many doors for us all to give back."
Along with Ag in the Classroom, throughout the years, Brock has been a community leader and longtime supporter of South Dakota State University. She has served on the board of directors for the Ag in The Classroom program. While on the Huron Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee she helped organize farm tours for area third-graders. She has served as a leader in the Hitchcock United Methodist Church, serving as a lay leader and organizing a basic lay speakers seminar. She has been recognized for her efforts; named the 1988 Farm/Ranch Woman of the Year by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, 1990 Freedom Award in Agriculture by the Huron Daily Plainsman, 1999 Woman of the Year by the Huron Business and Professional Women, and was a 1999 nominee for the Spirit of South Dakota Award.
A Pioneering Spirit
The granddaughter of homesteaders Brock's grandmother and grandfather were both homesteading when they met farming has played a large role in Brock's life.
She and Bud started farming their first year of marriage, and purchased her family's farm when her dad retired. Today, their son, Craig, farms with them. When their children were young, Brock worked full time on the farm.
"I have many fond memories of days spent working on our farm because our entire family worked together. That's what I've enjoyed most about farming the opportunity it provided for us to all work together, outside enjoying the good Lord's creation."
A 4-H leader for many years, she appreciated the way the organization broadened her family's horizons.
"4-H provided a chance for the children to explore their talents and things they were interested in," she said.
The family was also actively involved in a local saddle club. During the summer they would compete in bi-weekly shows/play day rodeos. Brock served as club secretary and helped organize the Trail Ride for Cancer to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Once her children - Craig, Tony and John were in high school, Brock began her off-farm career. She worked as a clerk at the Redfield Sale Barn, as executive director for the South Dakota Association of Towns and Townships and as the director of information for the South Dakota Farm Bureau.
"I've been blessed in my career that I've enjoyed every job that I've had on and off the farm," Brock said.
As in her volunteer work, her career was connected to the land and agriculture - the industry she has worked so hard to promote.