Locals win Farm Bureau awards

Paul Thorp and Don Schellenberg of Polk County were honored with awards at Oregon Farm Bureau's 75th anniversary State Convention in Pendleton earlier this month.

Paul Thorp and Don Schellenberg of Polk County were honored with awards at Oregon Farm Bureau's 75th anniversary State Convention in Pendleton earlier this month.

OFB president Barry Bushue recognized Thorp with the Top Hand Award for his years of valuable service, and Schellenberg with the President's Award for his long commitment to Oregon's agriculture producers.

Regarding Thorp's award, Bushe said, "The Top Hand Award is presented to a person whose activities have made Oregon Farm Bureau the successful grassroots organization that it is today. Paul has volunteered at the state and county levels and has dependably accomplished any task set before him."

Thorp raises a variety of vegetables in Polk County. He is the current president of the Polk County Farm Bureau and has served on the Polk County Farm Bureau Board of Directors since 1992.

He is a member of the OFB Livestock and Resource Committee, OFB Goose Depredation Committee, and OFB Agriculture Education Committee. As the chair of the OFB Health & Safety Committee, Thorp helped with the creation of a highly successful Rural Road Safety campaign and brochure to educate both farmers and the public on the importance of sharing the roads safely and the proper use of Slow-Moving Vehicle signs.

"Paul is also noted for single-handedly organizing and conducting the only Farm Bureau-sponsored Tractor Driving Safety courses in Oregon," said Bushue. (Farm employees under the age of 18 must pass this course before they can operate power-driven equipment.)

The safety class offered by the Polk County Farm Bureau is customarily held in the spring at the county fairgrounds in Rickreall.

Bushue called Thorp "a mild-mannered but very effective volunteer leader, dedicated to making a difference in agriculture and the community at large."

Regarding Schellenberg's honor, the President's Award recipient is selected by the sitting OFB President. Bushue said Schellenberg "is an individual who has displayed an outstanding level of vision, service, and leadership toward the betterment of the Oregon agriculture industry."

Schellenberg first joined the Farm Bureau in 1965. He became a leader at the county level almost immediately and soon followed in his father's footsteps by serving as the Polk County bureau president for several terms during the 1960s and 70s.

Over the decades, Schellenberg has been honored by his county Farm Bureau twice for his work as a volunteer leader and later for his overall service to the industry.

In 1980, Schellenberg came to work for the Oregon Farm Bureau as a public affairs manager. Twenty-seven years later, his title has changed to associate director of governmental affairs and he has become an undisputed expert on the topics of agriculture land use, taxation, labor, and transportation.

Said Bushue: "Almost every active volunteer leader in the Farm Bureau has a story about how Don helped him or her be heard by legislators at the State Capitol or navigate a complicated tax law or gain grassroots support on an issue.

"For all of his years of dedication, enthusiasm, and effective hard work, I say `thank you' to Don."

Schellenberg raises prunes on his farm in Dallas.

Bushue, a Multnomah County berry and nursery stock producer, was elected to a fifth two-year term as president.

Other 2007 Farm Bureau members honored at the OFB state convention included:

Paul Kovash of Benton County, inducted as the 18th member of the OFB Hall of Fame "in recognition of his decades of volunteer leadership and efforts on behalf of Farm Bureau at the state and county levels, and for the betterment of the entire Oregon agriculture industry."

Daryl Hawes of Baker County, inducted as the 19th member of the OFB Hall of Fame.

Gary Harris of Jefferson County, presented with a Distinguished Service Award; Bernie Faber of Marion County, presented with a Service to Agriculture Award; and Bill Austin of Douglas County, honored with a Lifetime Memorial Award.


The Oregon Farm Bureau was founded in 1932 by a group of agricultural producers during a meeting at a farmhouse in Pilot Rock. Today it is organized in all 36 Oregon counties and has more than 8,000 member families engaged in agriculture.


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