Albert Batchelder, Bernard Hughes and Daniel Koester will be inducted into the Rice County Ag Hall of Fame during next week’s Best of the Best awards program.

The Best of the Best award program is held in the beer garden on the Rice County Fairgrounds in Faribault. The program starts at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, July 17. A complimentary breakfast, sponsored by local ag commodity groups including the Rice County Corn and Soybean Growers, Rice County American Dairy Association and Rice County Pork Producers, is served starting at 7:30 a.m.

Albert Batchelder was a founding partner of the Faribault Veterinary Clinic and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Faribault Animal Center. He began working with animals in the area in 1955, serving farmers and the community for over 50 years. He was a lifelong resident of Rice County and a lover of agriculture. Before serving as a veterinarian, he served his country in the United States Navy and in the Army Veterinary Corps.

Batchelder was a good teacher who truly cared and many farmers credit him for teaching them how to farm livestock better. Veterinarians who practiced with Batchelder viewed him as a mentor. He was a graduate of the University of Minnesota and a member of the National Honor Society for Agriculture and Forestry.

Bernard Hughes founded Hughes Equipment, a John Deere dealership north of Northfield on Hwy. 3. During his years in the farm machinery business, he actively supported many area agricultural organizations and activities. He served the local business community as a member of the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce including serving as president.

Hughes made it a point to tell everyone how important the farmers and agricultural businesses were to a healthy community. He served as a member and general chairman of the Defeat of Jesse James Days. He was a member and past commander of the Northfield VFW, having served in the United States Marines. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, an active member of The Church of St. Dominic, member of the Northfield American Legion and past president of the Northfield Lions Club. In 1985, Hughes was the recipient of the Joseph Lee Heywood Distinguished Service Award.

Daniel Koester was a registered Hereford breeder north of Dennison. He was an active Rice County 4-H member, junior leader and livestock exhibitor as a member of the Big Giants 4-H Club. Koester was a founding member of the Minnesota Junior Hereford Association and exhibited cattle with his family at the Minnesota State Fair for over 40 years.

The American Hereford Association awarded him the Golden Hereford Breeder Medallion for being a 50 year Hereford producer. Koester attended the University of Minnesota, majoring in animal science. He was president of the St. Paul Board of Colleges and was awarded the A.M. Freeman Student Leadership Medal. He was a member of the College Republicans and worked on many campaigns. He was a promoter of agriculture and rural youth and was recognized as the Rice County Outstanding 4-H Adult Leader in 1988 and the Alumnus of the year in 1994. For many years, Koester worked as a hog buyer at the South St. Paul stockyards in addition to his farming.

Parking is free if you mention you are attending the Best of the Best.

Reach Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook at 507-333-3134. Follow her on Twitter @rooksuzy

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