Saline County Farmer Wins $2,500 for Blackburn First Responders

Monday, April 2, 2012
On behalf of farmer Benny Kirchhoff, Monsanto territory sales manager Jody Foutch (far left) presented a $2,500 Farmers Grow Communities check to the Blackburn First Responders. Sponsored by Monsanto, the award gives farmers a chance to apply for the donation on behalf of a nonprofit organization in their county. The check presentation on March 30 in Blackburn was attended by First Responders including, Joe Campbell, president, Bill Kellerman, vice-president, Martha Brunkhorst, secretary/treasurer, Donald Rehkop, Robert Rehkop, Jill Lawless, Cyres Poe, Christine Fish and Justin Forbes. Also included in the presentation were Sweet Springs Ambulance District director Carl Webb and Robin Webb, EMT. They provide training to the First Responders who respond to all medical calls in a 50 square mile radius in the Blackburn, Elmwood and Mt. Leonard area.

A $2,500 donation from the Farmers Grow Communities fund will almost double the annual budget of the Blackburn First Responders.

On Friday, March 30, Monsanto territory sales manager Jody Foutch presented a check to the volunteer organization, which responds to all medical calls in a roughly 50 square mile radius around Blackburn, Elmwood and Mount Leonard.

The award, sponsored by Monsanto, gives area farmers a chance to win the donation for a local nonprofit organization. Blackburn area farmer Benny Kirchhoff chose the First Responders for the award, because of the service the organization provides the community.

Blackburn First Responder president Joe Campbell presented Benny Kirchhoff with a plaque after he chose the volunteer organization to receive a $2,500 Farmers Grow Communities award from Monsanto.

"I know they put in a lot of hours of training and I was sure they're was some equipment they could use," he said. "The work they do helps everybody."

First Responders president Joe Campbell said the donation will be a big help. Their budget, comes solely from donations, including a fundraiser each February which normally garners $2,500 to $3,000.

"We can't receive any tax dollars because we aren't part of the fire department," he said. However, the 10-member group works in connection with the Blackburn Fire Department and many of the volunteers are also volunteer firefighters, as well. They respond to calls in their personal vehicles. They also take time out of their work schedules for training provided by the Sweet Springs Ambulance District.

They also respond to all structure fires in the area, in case medical assistance is needed.

The First Responders have a long list of supplies they will be purchasing with the extra money.

"Now we can bring in all this extra equipment and not be breaking the budget," Campbell said. "We are a bunch of penny pinchers, we can make stuff go pretty far."

In 1,245 eligible counties in 39 states, farmers could win $2,500 for their favorite community nonprofit. The Monsanto Fund expects to invest more than $3.1 million in local communities.

America's Farmers Grow Communities is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund to highlight the important contributions farmers make every day to our society by helping them grow their local communities. Nearly 60,000 farmers participated in the second annual Grow Communities program, which is designed to benefit nonprofit groups such as ag youth, schools and other civic organizations. For more information and to see a full list of winners, visit