Culver’s officially created the Thank You Farmers Project in 2013, but Culver’s franchisees have been letting farmers know how much they’re appreciated since long before that. Just ask Dick Cates, a farmer, teacher and Master Agriculturalist winner from Spring Green, Wisconsin.
Growing up on a small farm, Dick has been surrounded by agriculture his whole life. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he received a Ph.D. in soil science in 1983. A few years later Dick and his wife, Kim, returned to Dick’s family farm with a determination to turn it into a successful business. After experiencing a few challenging years at the beginning, they eventually achieved their goal.
But what Dick didn’t know was that the challenges he faced would be just as important in his journey. These challenges would inspire him to support young farmers as they’re pursuing their dreams because as Dick will tell you, “I’ve lived it. I know it’s hard but I can help make it easier.”
In 1995 Dick helped create the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers (WSBDF), which is a program that teaches young farmers what they need to know when starting their farming business. It was around this time that Dick met Craig Culver who, on behalf of Culver’s, made a donation to support the program’s initiatives. That encounter was only the beginning of a friendship that lives on today.
In 2002, to raise even more awareness for WSBDF and the need to support the next generation of farmers, Dick started a bicycle event called Ride to Farm that takes cyclists to farms—and a few Culver’s—across Wisconsin. Culver’s has been a supporter of this ride since day one, and Craig Culver even served as the send-off speaker one year.
Because of his dedication to and leadership within the farming community, Dick became a 2016 recipient of the Master Agriculturalist award. This much-deserved recognition is Wisconsin’s oldest farm award and one of America’s highest agricultural achievement honors.
Dick has spent his life teaching and advocating for farmers, so we asked him what the Thank You Farmers Project means to him. Here’s what he said:
“I love it. Every time I drive up and down the highway and see ‘Thank You Farmers’ on the side of a blue barn it makes me smile. Culver’s is one of the only businesses that will take the time and the courtesy to say thanks. It’s just so special, and it’s a respect. As producers, it means the world to us and makes what we do even more fun.
I’m also so glad that Culver’s understands that young farmers are our future. We need to have that next generation.”
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Thank you, Dick, and thank you, farmers, for everything you do. We’re proud supporters of you and the youth that will be the farmers of our future.
To learn how you, too, can show your appreciation for farmers, visit our Thank You Farmers Project page. You can also learn more about how three of our franchisees, Carissa, Conroy and Emily, are making a difference for young farmers right in their communities.