01 December 2021, USA: Austin Walter, a farmer from Grand Ridge, Illinois, is the 2021 Syngenta #RootedinAg Contest grand prizewinner. Online voters and a panel of judges were charmed by Walter’s story of how his grandfather’s influence drove his decision to return to the family farm.
“My grandfather inspired me to build a life and career in agriculture,” Walter said. “I always respected my grandpa and what he’s built here, and I’m very lucky and thankful to be able to come back and be a part of it.”
When reflecting on the most valuable lesson he learned from his grandfather, Walter said, “Never let your highest highs be too high or your lowest lows be too low. But I think the biggest thing he always tells us is don’t worry about things you can’t control and just try to be humble and kind.”
Walter had an important decision after attending Texas Tech University ― enter the commercial agriculture industry or return home to the farm and help the family operation continue to grow. Now back at the family’s row crop farm and cattle feedlot, he recently reflected on how his grandfather’s leadership influenced his return.
“I am blessed to be able to return and farm alongside both my father and grandfather, from whom I am able to learn a vast wealth of knowledge, which they gained over their years of experience,” says Walters. “It is truly a dream of mine to raise my kids on the farm the way that I was raised, in hopes of the tradition continuing for generations.”
Walter is the eighth winner since the #RootedinAg Contest, which started in 2014. “Agriculture’s greatest strength is its people,” said Pam Caraway, Syngenta marketing communications lead. “Fortunately, we are rich with folks like Ralph, Austin’s grandfather, who understand the importance of the next generation of ag leaders and give their time and caring attention to ensure U.S. agriculture stays strong. We’re grateful for those who submitted their stories and the mentors who are shaping the ag industry of tomorrow.”
As the grand prizewinner, Walter receives $500, a professional photo shoot with his mentor and a $1,000 donation to a local civic cause he is passionate about. He chose the Grand Ridge Junior High FFA, a program for junior high students interested in agriculture that aims to prepare and expose students to potential career opportunities in agriculture.