Nancy Nadvornik doesn’t know of a time without Farmers Union. As a child, she followed her parents to county meetings. Her mother, Viola Hummel, was the youth director for Hettinger County Farmers Union. Her father, Reuben Hummel, was Hettinger County Farmers Union president.

“I’ve been in Farmers Union all of my life,” Nadvornik said. “As soon as we could start, we went to day classes.”

Years later, Nadvornik is still committed to the program. She became a youth director out of high school and has served more than 45 years in that position.

“Nancy has Farmers Union blood in her veins,” said NDFU Education Director Bri Sorensen. “She has dedicated her life to Farmers Union and especially our Farmers Union youth. I want to express my personal appreciation for Nancy’s commitment and love of Farmers Union and our youth program. I am proud to work with her and call her a friend. May she continue to inspire us for years to come!”

Farmers Union Insurance agent Brad Greff echoed those sentiments.

“She lives and breathes Farmers Union,” he said. “You won’t get anyone more dedicated to Farmers Union, the organization, the camp and the (day) school. All of my kids would attest to that as well. They all went to day schools and camp with her as their leader. She’s amazing.”

Nadvornik grew up on her parents’ farm near Mott, milking cows and growing wheat, barley and oats with her sister Darlene, who also participated in the youth program and still helps with day classes.

“We just had a little old schoolhouse, and we went once a month for meetings and had classwork, too,” recalled Nancy.

Nancy met her husband George and they eventually had two kids: Allen and Amy. The couple now enjoys nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild, and still reside on her parents’ original farm.

“I’m trying to get all of my grandchildren (into the youth program),” she said.

The youth program has remained strong in Hettinger County, thanks to the hard work of Nadvornik as well as good recruitment from Greff.

“I think I had about 20-something last year, which is good because our community is mostly older people,” she said. “I think we’re doing pretty good on that.”

With the pandemic, Nadvornik said the education has continued, albeit on their own. Day classes as well as summer camp attendance are integral to earning North Dakota Farmers Union’s Torchbearer Award, which is the youth program’s highest honor.

“We handed out packets for them to take home,” said Nadvornik, who is a Torchbearer. “We didn’t want them to fall behind in their classwork and stuff.”

When she started out over 40 years ago, it was largely workbook-driven. Since then, she said the curriculum allows for a little more creativity.

“You put your own version into the lessons to hopefully make it interesting for them,” she said.

Nadvornik has fond memories of camp from her time as a camper but also as a parent.

“We played a trick with my daughter,” she recalled. “She took a little stuffed monkey along to camp, and we hid it. And she’s such an actor. She had all of the counselors believing we let her bring a real monkey, and they were looking for it. She played it up to the hilt. She had everyone looking.”

Nadvornik said the goal of being an EPIC coach is to engage with youth and turn them into leaders.

“We try to keep the kids involved and keep our future leaders going. They’re our future, so we want to keep them in the program. And we like to work with kids.”

– Chris Aarhus, NDFU Editor