For Richard and Linda Reinhardt of Erie, Kansas, being advocates for agriculture is something they have spent years perfecting.
Initially, when they moved back to Erie in 1967, from Rooks County, Kan., Richard became an active partner in his father and brother’s dairy operation, where they ran a 120 cow Grade A dairy. Richard spent 20 years working on the dairy. Upon the death of his father, Richard and his brother decided to disperse the herd during the buy-out program of 1986.
“My children were not really interested in going into the dairy business,” Richard Reinhardt says. “My first love has always been beef cattle and I worked nine years as a herdsman at Sutor Hereford Farms in Zurich, Kan. after graduating college before I moved back to the dairy.”
Now the 680 acre operation is owned by both Richard and his brother Loy. Currently, both Richard and Loy lease their ground to Richard and Linda’s daughter Terri Sue and her husband Jim who raise registered Gelbvieh cattle. The farm consists of 460 acres of native pasture, 120 acres of fescue for fall pasture and 60 acres of eastern gamma grass for hay.
In recent years the farm ground has been reseeded back to grass and three ponds have been rebuilt for stock water. The Reinhardts continue to help with weed and brush control on the farm as well as burning annually to improve the health of the grass.
“For us, living here is ideal,” Linda Reinhardt says. “We are able to remain on the farm and help out when needed. As well as, we have been able to live next door to one of our daughters and one set of grandchildren. Richard is still able to help feed the cattle, assist with the daily care of the cattle, maintain buildings, equipment, fences and mowing. We have remained a viable part of the farming operation, and help them like they helped us when they were younger.”
The partnership of Richard and his brother allowed for both families to grow up with each other.
“Our children were able to grow up with their cousins much like brothers and sisters instead of cousins,” Richard explains. “Both sets of children belonged to separate 4-H clubs so they did not compete directly with each other. However, all the kids were raised not to keep score with each other and help out when needed.”
Both Richard and Linda have always been active in agricultural programs an raised their three children with these same values.
“We actually met during a 4-H function at the Kansas State Fair when we were in high school,” Linda adds. “And all three of our children were active in both 4-H and FFA while they were growing up.”
Richard and Linda both served as 4-H leaders in their community, for many years and remain strong supporters of the program today. In addition to serving as 4-H leaders, they have also been active in the Farm Bureau organization for over 50 years.
After all their children were grown, Linda began to become more active in the Farm Bureau organization.
“When my youngest daughter was a senior in high school she told me it was my time to spread my wings,” Linda explains.
And in 1980, Linda was elected as the chair of the Kansas Farm Bureau women’s committee and then in 1993 was elected chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation women’s committee and served until 2001.
“During my time with the American Farm Bureau I was able to travel across the world,” Linda adds. “Through my travels I have been able to meet women across the world and help provide them with the confidence to continue in agriculture.”
Throughout her years of service, Linda was able to make the initial contacts and worked to establish the Farm Bureau connection with the Ronald McDonald House to start Food Check Out Day, which has now grown into Food Check Out Week across the nation. Also, the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture established the White-Reinhardt Fund for Education in dedication to Linda for her years of advocating for agricultural education in the classroom.
“I was very honored when I found out about the American Farm Bureau Foundation naming a scholarship fund after me,” Linda explains. “I believe in education and educating our children about agriculture and where their food comes from.”
While Linda was traveling and meeting women across the world with the American Farm Bureau, Richard served in the Kansas House of Representatives for 12 years.
“We were able to retire the same year from our positions,” Linda adds. “During Richard’s years of service he was able to reform higher education to include community colleges and he also worked with many Farm Bureau members to receive endorsement for the local and state Farm Bureau.”
Both Richard and Linda remain active in their local Farm Bureau organization today and also serve on serval other boards.
Since 2001, Richard has served on the Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative board of directors. In 2003, he was appointed to the Governors Education Task Force. In 2008, he was appointed to the RSVP Advisory Council for surrounding southeast Kansas towns and he also serves on the board of Eastern Kansas Royalty Owners Association.
Also in 2003, Linda was appointed by Governor Sebelius to the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation board of directors, and in 2006 she was appointed to the board of directors of PIPELINE, an organization recognizing entrepreneurial development. Since 2004, she has served on the board of trustees of the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum in Chanute, Kan. Linda continues her membership with the Country Women’s Council and the Associated Country Women of the World.
In addition to their service and honors, Richard and Linda, recently, were selected as one of 10 Kansas Farm Families of the Year.
“We were very honored to receive Farm Family of the Year,” Linda says.
The Reinhardts were grateful to join the past and present members of the Kansas Farm Families of the Year including their daughter Terri Sue and her husband Jim.
“I love working with cattle and love being able to help out around the farm, but it is nice to be retired and know we are able to take off when we want and not worry about the animals,” Richard concludes.