The Missouri Agricultural Hall of Fame was created in 2024 to recognize farmers, ranchers and agribusiness leaders who have made an outstanding contribution to Missouri Agriculture. The Hall of Fame is a celebration of the vitality of the agriculture industry in Missouri. Inductees into the Hall of Fame are selected by a committee and are honored annually.

2024 Missouri Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees

Photo of William Darr

William H. Darr — The wide-ranging contributions of William “Bill” and Virginia Darr to Missouri agriculture include business, academics and philanthropy. The Darrs have been dedicated to improving the quality of life in communities throughout Southwest Missouri, including Springfield and Bill’s hometown of Ellington. Bill earned an agriculture degree from what is now Missouri State University in Springfield and credits his education for fostering an entrepreneurial spirit that led him to establish several highly successful companies that specialized in dehydrated food products. Over the years, the Darrs have continually given back to Missouri State University and its aptly named Darr College of Agriculture. The family also endowed a scholarship program to recognize students for exceptional academic excellence and established the Darr Family Foundation in 2002 to continue their commitment to supporting people in need.

Photo of Jay Fischer

Jay Fischer — Jay Fischer has farmed for more than 30 years, growing corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, pumpkins and watermelons in Jefferson City. He, his wife, Kim, and daughter, Jena, also operate an agritourism business, welcoming more than 20,000 visitors to their corn maze and pumpkin patch each fall. Jay works on behalf of the state’s corn farmers, having served as the Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) president and vice president and Missouri Corn Merchandising Council vice chairman and secretary. He currently serves as an ex-officio MCGA board member through his role on the board of directors for the U.S. Grains Council, a partner of Missouri Corn, focused on strengthening and building corn and ethanol markets around the globe. Fischer is active within his community and serves as president of the Capital View Levy District. The family was also recognized with the Governor’s Award for Agriculture in 2011.

Photo of Blake & Julie Hurst

Blake & Julie Hurst — Blake and Julie Hurst started farming in 1977 on a rented farm near Tarkio. Since then, they’ve produced three children and six grandchildren, added a greenhouse business and grown 44 crops of corn and soybeans. The Hursts have both been active in farm policy. Julie was chairman of the state Farm Service Agency committee, and Blake served for 10 years as president of Missouri Farm Bureau. While at Farm Bureau, Blake helped the organization successfully lobby for farmers across the state and grow in financial strength. Blake also served for 10 years on the American Farm Bureau board. Julie accompanied him during those years, supporting Farm Bureau at hundreds of meetings and events. Blake has also written articles on farm policy for numerous national publications and continues to write today, as his muse and time allow. The Hursts are still farming, growing flowers, watching their grandchildren participate in sports, and traveling together.

Photo of Charles Kruse

Charlie Kruse — Dexter native Charles “Charlie” Kruse has a distinguished legacy of service to Missouri agriculture. A graduate of Dexter High School, he received a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Arkansas State University in 1967 and a master’s degree in plant genetics from the University of Missouri in 1974. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout at age 14, and in 2003 was named a Distinguished Eagle Scout by the Boy Scouts of America organization. He spent 26 years in the National Guard, retiring with the rank of brigadier general. He served on the MU Board of Curators, as Missouri director of agriculture and as president of Missouri Farm Bureau from 1992 to 2010. He also served on the board and executive committee for the American Farm Bureau and received its highest honor, the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award, in 2012. He and his wife, Pam, farmed for 38 years, retiring in 2014. They raised two sons, Ben, who died in an ATV accident at age 28, and Scott, principal of Dexter Middle School. Scott and his wife, Kerri, have two daughters, Addie and Andie.

Photo of Forrest & Charlotte Lucas

Forrest & Charlotte Lucas — Forrest and Charlotte Lucas are leaving an enduring legacy for the agricultural industry and communities they serve. Through Protect The Harvest and Lucas Cattle Company, the Lucases have demonstrated what it means to champion causes that protect and nurture American agriculture and rural life. Founded in 2011, Protect The Harvest is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting farmers, ranchers, outdoor enthusiasts and animal owners. The organization continues to achieve important milestones in its mission to ensure “A Free and Fed America.” Located in Cross Timbers, Mo., Lucas Cattle Company spans more than 16,000 acres and is home to the nation’s largest registered Simmental cattle herd and a breeding program for elite cutting horses. In partnership with the Missouri Farmers Care Foundation, Forrest and Charlotte have also dedicated themselves to fighting food insecurity in the state through the Hogs for Hunger initiative and the annual Drive to Feed Kids.