Twenty-two youth from around the state earned their Torchbearer award at North Dakota Farmers Union’s state convention on Saturday night, Dec. 10, in a special ceremony recognizing the achievement.

The Torchbearer award is the highest honor a youth can earn in Farmers Union’s youth program. Recipients must complete five years of senior youth work and attend at least one senior youth camp.

Erin Hill-Oban, former Torchbearer recipient and state senator from Bismarck, served as keynote speaker for the event. She spoke of the influence North Dakota Farmers Union has had on her personal and professional life.

“I attribute much of who I’ve become, and what I value, to the lessons I learned on the banks of Farmers Union’s Heart Butte Camp,” she said. “From the basic principles of education, legislation and cooperation that guide this organization, to its commitment to agriculture and family farms… to the lifelong skills and support network that empowered a small-town girl to believe she could help make a positive impact on her community.”

Hill-Oban encouraged graduates to remember, throughout their lives, the grounding principles of Farmers Union.

Award recipients also recited the Torchbearer Pledge: “I accept my responsibility as a Torchbearer of the Farmers Union, and I pledge to bear that torch with clean hands and a courageous heart. I unite with my fellow Torchbearers in a pledge to practice tolerance and brotherhood – and to keep my torch ever one of those which shall light the way to a peaceful world.”

Recipients, listed by county, include:

CAVALIER – Jakob Iverson, Langdon. DICKEY – Clayton Henningsen, Monango; Summer Steinwand, Kulm. DIVIDE – Allison Grote, McGregor. EMMONS – Taylor Aberle, Heidi Jacob, both Linton. GRANT – Dillon Koepplin, Elgin. KIDDER – Morgan Ziesch, Pettibone. LAMOURE – Brittney Muske, LaMoure; Hailey Zwirner, Samantha Zwirner, both Berlin. MCLEAN – Haylee Rustad, Roseglen. MORTON – Sarah Schafer, Flasher. MOUNTRAIL – Kaylyn Obert, Stanley. RANSOM – Lorenzo Strand, Nome. STUTSMAN – Alexandra Grenz, Christen Willer, both Jamestown. WALSH – Mikayla Fingarson, Edinburg. WELLS – Dillon Schmitz, Manfred. WILLIAMS – Maari Dolan, Kelsey Perdue, Marissa Veach, all of Ray.