Oregon State FFA student Jonwyn Ayres sings the national anthem at the SAIF Agri-Business Banquet (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

The Agri-Business Banquet, sponsored by SAIF, was held Jan. 21 at the Salem Convention Center. The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce encouraged cowboy boots and masks at this popular event celebrating the agricultural community.

Chamber President Laura Dorn preceded Jonwyn Ayres, Oregon State FFA Secretary, who sang the national anthem. Ayres received the Portland General Electric Smart Grid Scholarship Award. She has served as both the Oregon and Western States Angus Queen.

SAIF, the State Accident Insurance Fund CEO Chip Terhune expressed optimism about the future generation of agriculture leaders.  “Mr. Agriculture,” John Zielinski of E.Z. Orchards served as host along with keynote speaker Kerry Tymchuk, executive director of the Oregon Historical Society. They treated the audience to an informative and humorous presentation. 

Tymchuk began by remembering Bob Dole. Tymchuk worked as Dole’s speechwriter while the Senator served as the Senate Majority Leader. He assisted Dole in authoring the book “The Great Political Wit of the 20th Century.”  He listed William Howard Taft, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and Abe Lincoln as the wittiest of the presidents.

Tymchuk shared a story about Lincoln: One day, a man came to the office seeking a job and said, 'Mr. President, the chief of customs has just passed away. May I take his place?' And Lincoln responded, 'If it doesn't matter to the undertaker, it doesn't matter to me.

As for the historical portion of his presentation, Tymchuk took guests 15,000 to20,000 years into the past, where the ice caps melted and created flooding in the valley, forming sand and silt deposits.

He also told the story of The Willamette Meteorite. This iron-nickel meteorite found in our state is the largest meteorite found in North America and the sixth largest in the world. It now resides at the Natural History Museum in New York City.  He brought one of Oregon’s most valuable artifacts to “show and tell” - the branding iron of Captain Meriwether Lewis.

Chamber CEO, Tom Hoffert, closed the program recognizing sponsors and event team members Naomi Tillery and Lyn Zielinski-Mills.

Learn more about the Ag Banquet at SalemChamber.org.

Julie Hoy and Manny Martinez attend the SAIF Agri-Business Banquet. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Randy and Jackie Franke at the SAIF Agri-Business Banquet (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Kerry Tymchuk provides the keynote address at the SAIF Agri-Business Banquet (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

John Zielinski, known as “Mr. Agriculture,” speaks at the SAIF Agri-Business Banquet (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Guests visit with Mayor Chuck Bennett at the SAIF Agri-Business Banquet (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Dan and Laura Dorn look over notes at the SAIF Agri-Buisiness Banquet (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

SAIF CEO Chip Terhune speaks at the SAIF Agri-Business Banquet (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Tom Hoffert recognizes Naomi Tillery and Lyn Zielinski-Mills for their work on the SAIF Agri-Business Banquet (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Mary Louise VanNatta is a Salem public relations professional writing regularly for Salem Reporter. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on Facebook.

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