Published on Friday, January 3, 2020
I stepped into the home of Aaron and Carolyn Everett a stranger, but I left, as they said, a part of the family.
We hear stories of the all-American farm family sitting around a table, laughing and fellowshipping with each other before enjoying a home-made meal. But in a time when busy schedules and a pressure to be constantly “plugged in” reigns, you have to wonder if those circumstances still exist. I can’t speak for everyone, but the Everett family of Lebanon, Indiana, still makes time for family, their community, and even strangers.
Across three generations, the Everetts have a long list of community involvement and a true passion for farming and advocating for agriculture. Due to their outstanding service and dedication, the Everett family was named the 2020 Farm Family of the Year, a recognition sponsored by Beck’s and Indiana AgriNews.
“It’s an honor that other people noticed what we’ve done,” said Doug Everett, Aaron’s son.
The farm, founded in 1919, is truly a family operation. Aaron and Carolyn have passed down the legacy of both their families' farms to their son Doug and two grandsons, Tyler and Luke. Doug recalls riding in the tractor with his mom, Carolyn, as a little kid. Doug’s wife, Nanette, helps him load semis, even in the wee hours of the morning. Everyone chips in and even family members that no longer live in the area have helped on the farm at one point in time or another.
Farming was not the only passion that Aaron passed down to his son and grandsons. Aaron helped start a volunteer fire department in the area 60 years ago, and today, he, Doug, and Tyler are all active volunteers. Doug is the Fire Chief.
“It’s really neat when people come up to you after the fact and say, ‘thank you, I don’t know what we would have done without you,’ because for a time, we were the only fire department around here,” said Doug. “It took a long time for paid fire departments to get out here to the country.”
Just like farming, helping out a neighbor or their community as a whole runs in the Everett family’s blood.
“As a city girl, I didn’t grow up on a farm,” said Nanette. “After Doug and I got married, I saw how everybody helps everybody else on the farm. Tyler and Doug and some neighboring farmers are working together, since we are all done with harvest, to haul grain for some other farmers in the area.”
You can’t talk about the Everett family without mentioning their combined 200 years of involvement with 4-H. It was in 4-H that Aaron and Carolyn first met, and the family continues to be involved today. Various family members serve as club and project leaders, judges, and council members. In addition to 4-H, the family supports their local FFA chapter by plowing and harvesting the FFA plots, volunteering at the chapter’s annual fish fry fundraiser, and judging competitions.
The family also continues to fight for their rural community. Doug was recently involved in stopping involuntary annexations of farmland and homes by a nearby municipality. He spoke at a Statehouse Committee hearing, which led to a new state law limiting the powers of cities and towns to annex land without permission from a majority of the landowners involved.
Amidst their busy schedules, the Everetts also take time to advocate for agriculture. Each year, Doug speaks to the local school’s kindergarten class on farming and welcomes a group of adults to the farm through the Community Foundation of Boone County’s Leadership Academy.
“The more people that are educated in agriculture, the longer agriculture will be sustained in our economy,” said Tyler.
Whether you are a neighbor, a relative, or a stranger like me, the Everett family will welcome you with open arms, make you dinner, and share a laugh or two. Congratulations to the Everett family on a well-deserved honor.
Author: Ashley Heyen
Categories: CropTalk, 2020
Tags: CropTalk, community talk, farm family of the year