Four military veterans have been gifted with Kubota L-Series compact tractors in recognition of their military service and for their continued dedication to the country by pursuing futures in food and farming.
The four recipients were presented with keys to their new tractors as part of Kubota’s 2017 “Geared to Give” program in partnership with the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC), which is mobilizing veterans to help feed the country.
Many of the 1,100 dealers at Kubota’s annual meeting in Phoenix October 21-25 attended a special ceremony that honored the vets by providing tractors and resources through their Kubota dealerships.
Kubota has provided equipment and funding support to a total of 21 veterans in the Farmer Veteran Coalition’s Fellowship Program, which helps link veterans with resources to return to or begin a new career in food and farming.
The 2017 program involved one recipient selected from each of Kubota’s four operating Divisions:
- Southeast Division: Matt (Charles) Fitzwater is an Army veteran who served through three deployments. He owns Rainbow Harvest Farm, a 10-acre pick-your-own and direct-to-consumer berry operation in Kentucky.
“When we first started the farm, I didn’t think we’d need a tractor. But now I’ve realized how much our efficiency can be increased even with a small tractor,” Fitzwater says. “It’s hard to say how much this means to me – no more borrowing tractors for us.”
He will be supported by Kubota dealer Lawson Tractor & Implement II in Stanford, Kentucky.
- Northern Division: Army veteran Randy Ramberger owns the five-acre Ramberger Family Farms in Indiana.
“There will be times you will want to walk away from a challenge, but in the food and farming industry, you have people and animals relying on you to not quit,” he writes in his application for the award. “…When you realize it’s not just about you, that is when you take that motivation and push forward.”
Ramberger will be supported by Kubota dealer Dirt-N-Turf Sales and Rental, Greentown, Indiana.
- Central Division: Joel Heinzeroth, a 20-year Army veteran, owns the 440-acre Heinzeroth Cattle Company. He grew up on an Iowa farm with parents Ervin and Carol and appreciates that his 8-year-old daughter and 7-month-old son can have the same experience.
“I work in agriculture because I love it, and this donation allows me to really get back to my roots,” he says. “I’ve had a tough Army career including my time in Iraq. I’ve recently retired from military service, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of FVC. I’m always here to help my fellow veterans in any way. My father died in a farming accident so I had to start my farm in Oklahoma from scratch. I’m glad to be involved with FVC, a program which promotes such a great vision.”
Heinzeroth will be supported by Lindley Farm Equipment, Cordell, Oklahoma.
- Western Division: Cherri Marin, a 21-year Air Force veteran, owns Sunshine and Reins farm in Oregon and is the program’s first Air Force veteran. She serves her community and other veterans as a mentor for work in agriculture.
“I dream to grow and give back, and this donation is incredibly helpful for me to do that,” she says. “I’ve had to beg and barter to use other tractors, and it will be nice to not have to do that.”
Marin will be supported by Kubota dealer Linn Benton Tractor Company, Tangent, Oregon.
Kubota, with a philanthropic mission to “power and empower those who move the earth,” teamed up with FVC to begin the Geared to Give program in 2015.
“This program empowers farmer veterans to achieve their dreams and make a true difference in their farming operations and in their communities,” says Alex Woods, Kubota vice president of sales operations, supply chain and parts.
Michael O’Gorman, executive director of FVC also attended the ceremony in Phoenix. “There is no greater gift for a farmer than a tractor, especially for those just starting out,” he says. “We’re thrilled to work with Kubota to help further the careers of our veterans.”
Land Pride donated implements to outfit the vets with the right tools for their farming operations. Firebird Products, a Kubota supplier for aftermarket accessories, donated Kubota-orange canopies for each tractor.
Farmer-veterans can apply to the FVC Fellowship Fund through the “Geared to Give” program at kubotacares.com. To learn more about FVC, go to farmvetco.org.