Richard and Earlene Boone, who operate Mountain Fork Hereford Farm in Natural Dam, have been named Farm Family of Crawford County.

The two were introduced at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Crawford County Farm Bureau.

They are now part of the 72nd annual Arkansas Farm Family of the Year Program and will be visited by a set of judges to determine if they will be among the eight district winners, who will be announced June 17. The next step includes being visited again by a different set of judges in July to determine a state winner, who will be announced Dec. 12 at the Farm Family of the Year luncheon in North Little Rock.

The Boones raise registered Black Hereford and Polled Hereford cattle with 85 momma cows in the herd. The Boones married in 2000 and started the farm in 2004 after Earlene’s dad passed away in 2003. Her parents bought the farm from her grandparents in 1949. Earlene worked 35 years in healthcare in Human Resources and marketing, retiring in 2003 to care for her dad.

Richard has worked in the field of healthcare in various locations as a hospital CEO and CFO, including Van Buren and Fort Smith. Richard also worked at USA Truck for five years.

The Boones have two married daughters and four grandchildren from Earlene and two married sons from Richard. The children live in Mountainburg, Denver, Houston and New Orleans.

Earlene is involved with Almost Home Animal Shelter and served with the Van Buren Boys and Girls Club. Richard has served as Van Buren Chamber of Commerce chairman, Van Buren Rotary Club chairman and on the Fort Smith United Way board. Both have served in various other community and civic organizations throughout the years. In addition to the farm activities, their hobbies include photography and gardening.

Richard Boone said the key to the success of their hereford farm is “personal attention,” adding, “We basically sell our animals for other people to raise for breeding stock. Earlene’s been really attentive to making sure they’re born alive and that we’ve raised them well. It’s a lot of personal attention.”

Even though she said she thought she’d never dreamed of doing exactly what she’s doing now — and was sure Richard felt the same way — she enjoys what she’s doing and the positive outcome their business generates.

“It’s not easy, but we do take pride in our stock. Our ultimate goal is to provide our customers the best, so we work very hard to make sure that happens.”

Randy Veach, president of Arkansas Farm Bureau, said in a statement that the “Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program recognizes great farmers and ranchers each year. These families are involved in noble and important work to provide food, fiber and shelter to the world.”

Since 1947, the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year Program has served as a vehicle to recognized outstanding farm families throughout the state. The objectives of the Farm Family of the Year program are:,

• To give recognition and encouragement to farm families who are doing an outstanding job on their farm and in their community.

• To gain recognition of the importance of agriculture in the community and state.

• To disseminate information on improved farm practices and management.

The Farm Family of the Year program begins each year with the selection of top farm families in each county and culminates in December with the selection of the state Farm Family of the Year who will then go on to represent Arkansas at the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. Arkansas has had two overall winners, Brian and Nan Kirksey of Clark County in 2008 and Wildy Family Farms of Mississippi County in 2016.

All winners are judged on their farm’s production, efficiency, management and family life as well as their rural/community leadership.

Sponsors of the Farm Family of the Year program are Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, and the three Farm Credit agencies that serve Arkansas: AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas and Midsouth Farm Credit.