2014 Distinguished Service Award

Harold Thome

Harold Thome was born to his parents Bert and Irene on March 23, 1932 in a snow storm, or so he says. His mother is not here to verify the story, Irene died when he was 10 year old. Harold's father Bert had a fruit and dairy farm in Alpine Township. After he graduated from Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids, he joined his father and brother Mark on the fourth generation farm. His son Steve now operates the farms as the fifth generation and his grandson Mitch is the sixth generation on the Thome farm where apples are the major crop.

Harold was a founding member of West Center Storage and was an officer of the Board. Now he is a member of Jack Brown Produce and Secretary of the Board. Harold has served in many ways through the years. He is a member International Fruit Tree Association and was a Board member for 9 years. Prior to being a Board member he also served on the Research Committee for a number of years. Other organizations he is involved with is Kenowa Pomesters, US Apple member, MACMA member and Board Member, Soil Conservation Board Member, a charter member of the Alpine Twp Fire Dept and has served as a volunteer fireman for over 40 years. Harold is a life member, past board member, and was President in 1993 of the Michigan State Horticulture Society.

Harold is a member of the Greasy Fingers 2 cylinder club. He enjoys his collection of 10 antique tractors, both green and red. He has driven several over the Mackinaw Bridge on the annual Labor Day event.

In 1960 Harold married JoAnn Barman. They attend Holy Trinity Alpine Church, where he served as an usher for many years. Their children Dennis, Steve, Patty and Jeanne have given them 8 grandchildren, six girls and two boys, they are expecting a great granddaughter by the end of the year. Harold and Joann have spent their lives giving back to the Fruit industry.

Michigan State Horticultural Society is pleased to present the Distinguished Service Award to Harold Thome.

Kenneth Nye

Kenneth L. Nye grew up on his parents farm in Berrien County near Stevensville. Their farm reflected the state's agricultural diversity, from dairy cattle to apples and Christmas trees; also melons, strawberries, grapes, peaches, corn, wheat, oats and hay. Ken graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Horticultural Marketing and was hired by Farm Bureau on April 4, 1977 in their Commodity Activities and Research Division as a Specialist.

In September of 1984 Ken left Michigan Farm Bureau for the bright lights of Chicago as a Horticulture Specialist for the American Farm Bureau Federation. He was involved in international trade, National legislative and regulatory work and traveled extensively to represent grower interests on the national level.

In 1989 Ken returned to Michigan Farm Bureau as Director of the Commodity Activities and research Division. In 1990 Ken took on an 18 month assignment as interim manager of the Michigan Agricultural Commodity Marketing Association (MACMA).Since 2003, ken has also managed the MACMA Processing Asparagus Division where he has negotiated prices to benefit the industry.

Ken helped expand international markets for growers with his work on World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, as well as HAFTA, CAFTA and other bilateral trade agreements proved new market opportunities of Michigan growers. Over his 37 year career Ken has worked on many critical issues including the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and Project GREEEN.

Ken and his wife Brenda are avid sailors. They enjoy cruising the great lakes aboard their 42 foot sail boat. They have 3 sons who are married Jon & Jenny, Matt & Elizabeth and Rob & Julie and five grandchildren. Ken's other passions are travel, cooking and eating. He is rumored to keep a fork in his pocket always at the ready to sniff out and partake of any offerings, his love of Krispy Kremes is legendary. Above all, Ken is a great spokesman for agriculture, who truly cares about serving Michigan farmers.

Michigan State Horticultural Society is pleased to present the Distinguished Service Award to Ken Nye.