Illinois farmer is Syngenta’s 2018 #RootedinAg winner


Katharine Girone of Varna, Illinois, has been selected as the grand prizewinner of the 2018 Thrive #RootedinAg contest from Syngenta. This contest challenges growers and other ag industry professionals across the country to describe the person who most nourished their agricultural roots — who helped them become #RootedinAg.

Girone, who works as a program coordinator for 4-H youth development at the University of Illinois Extension in Pekin, Illinois, and helps her family operate a fifth-generation farm, chose to honor her grandfather Kenneth McKee.

In her winning essay, she wrote, “Though my grandfather is not as young as he once was, when I look at him, I still see the hands of a faithful farmer: hands worn by hard, physical labor; hands that have held life; hands that sowed the seed to feed the world; and hands that welcome me home.”

2018 RiA WinnerGirone’s story resonated with both online voters and a panel of judges. Now, after receiving a mini touch-screen tablet alongside the four other deserving finalists, Girone has also won a $500 gift card. Additionally, Syngenta will make a $1,000 donation in her name to the Tazewell County 4-H program. Girone chose this group for the pivotal role it has played in shaping her relationship with her grandfather.

“In my tenure as a 4-H member, my grandfather made it to every 4-H show of mine,” she said. “He is a 4-H alumni, retired 4-H leader and retired 4-H sheep department superintendent. Giving back to this amazing organization that has affected both of us so deeply only seems fitting.”

2018 marked the fifth consecutive year Syngenta has sponsored an essay contest for its Thrive readers.

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