Farm Rescue founder Bill Gross selected grand marshal of ND State Fair Parade

Submitted Photo Bill Gross, founder and president of Farm Rescue, launched the nonprofit organization in 2005. He will be the grand marshal of this year’s North Dakota State Fair Parade in Minot on July 20.

Bill Gross and the volunteers with Farm Rescue are considered heroes to many farm and ranch families.

Since Farm Rescue was launched in 2005, with operations beginning in 2006, the organization has helped over 600 farm and ranch families who have experienced injury, illness or natural disasters in North Dakota and five other nearby states.

On Saturday, July 20, Gross, founder and president of Farm Rescue, will serve as the grand marshal of the North Dakota State Fair Parade in Minot, the largest parade in the state.

“It is a true honor to be selected as grand marshal for the North Dakota State Fair Parade,” said Gross. “The values upon which I was raised as a fourth-generation farmer truly represent the foundation of Farm Rescue and the people of North Dakota. Honest, hardworking and compassionate people who support the mission of Farm Rescue have been the key to the program’s success.”

Farm Rescue and its volunteers who come from North Dakota and other states across the country provide planting, haying, harvesting, hauling and livestock feeding assistance to farm and ranch families in need. Families who are in need apply to Farm Rescue for help. The organization receives many referrals as well.

Submitted Photo From left to right are Bill Gross, founder and president of Farm Rescue; Mark Baumgarten, a retired John Deere employee from Bettendorf, Iowa; and Clay Robertson, a NASA engineer from Fayetteville, Tenn. Baumgarten and Robertson are Farm Rescue volunteers who help each spring. They are shown at the Baumgarten Farm at Davenport.

Bill Gross grew up on a farm at Cleveland, a community west of Jamestown. Like so many farm boys before him, it was not possible to continue the family’s farming legacy at a young age due to financial constraints, according to Farm Rescue. His parents encouraged him to seek higher education in pursuit of a better life.

With a dream of flying, Gross enrolled in the University of North Dakota’s aviation program and earned his bachelor’s degree. (In 2015 he received an honorary doctorate degree from UND.) After graduation, he began his flying career. He’s been flying for United Parcel Service (UPS) for 25 years as of April 11.

As a Boeing 747 captain flying all over the world, Gross thought about what happens when farm families are faced with serious injuries or other circumstances, according to Farm Rescue. Gross thought when he retired he would buy a tractor and go around helping farm families plant their crops when they have a major injury or illness. Challenged with not waiting until retiring, his thoughts and concerns for helping families in need became a reality with his formation of Farm Rescue now more than a decade ago.

The organization first focused on spring planting for those in need in North Dakota.

Gross recalled their first planting was on the farm of Matt and Laura Biel at Lefor in Stark County in April 2006.

Submitted Photo Bill Krumwiede of Voltaire was Farm Rescue’s first volunteer. Today, the nonprofit organization has volunteers from 49 states signed up to help when needed or when they are available.

The Tom and Margie Ahmann family at Foxholm also was one of the first recipients of Farm Rescue services in April 2006. “Thank God for this organization,” said the Ahmann’s daughter, Nancy Ahmann Mickelson of Foxholm. “They came in and took care of business in a short amount of time. It was a godsend.”

Later Farm Rescue’s services were expanded plus expanding into South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana and Nebraska.

Farm Rescue started with just a handful of volunteers. Bill Krumwiede of Voltaire, the organization’s first volunteer, related in a story on the Farm Rescue website how he got interested in Farm Rescue. He said he was clearing newspapers from his kitchen table when a front page article on Farm Rescue in the Minot Daily News caught his eye. The organization was looking for volunteers. Krumwiede volunteered and helped plant 10 fields in the spring of 2006.

Currently, Farm Rescue has volunteers from 49 states signed up to help when needed or when they are available, said Dan Erdmann, Farm Rescue marketing communications officer at the organization’s headquarters at Horace. No one has volunteered yet from Delaware.

As word about Farm Rescue has spread, Gross, the volunteers and their mission to help farmers and ranchers in need, they have been featured in newspapers and other media. Gross has been the guest speaker at many special events in North Dakota and nationwide including the Republican National Convention. He has also been featured as a CNN Hero, People Magazine: Heroes Among Us, DirecTV: Small Town Heroes, Humanitarian of the year and received numerous other awards and accolades.

Most recently, Gross appeared on the Fox Network on April 6 in an interview about the flooding in the Midwest and Farm Rescue’s effort to coordinate and help provide hay to farmers and ranchers in Nebraska and other Midwest areas with flooding. Farm Rescue is continuing that effort.

Gross, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska, continues to fly all over the world for UPS but he’s always in touch with the Farm Rescue operation. He owns the family farm at Cleveland and continues in his volunteer capacity as head of the Farm Rescue board. Whenever he can, he returns to the area to join the Farm Rescue volunteers in the field and meet with the farm and ranch families in need.

“Farm Rescue has grown to be a wonderful avenue of goodness, where supporters and volunteers have come together to help farm and ranch families throughout the Upper Midwest,” Gross said. “The nonprofit organization continues to gain momentum by providing a wide array of services throughout an increasingly larger geographical area to assist farm families experiencing major illness, injury or natural disaster.”

Today, the nonprofit has become a well-known, successful organization with many faithfully dedicated volunteers throughout the nation and a strong following of sponsors and supporters.

Entries being accepted for parade

This year’s North Dakota State Fair Parade theme is “Salute to Agriculture!”

The parade starts at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, July 20, and follows Burdick Expressway east from Broadway and through the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.

Non-commercial entries are free of charge; however, there is a $50 fee for commercial entries (with $40 fee for each additional unit). There is also a $5 charge for entries wishing to be judged. Entry

forms may be downloaded at www.nd

statefair.com/attrac

tions-events and click on “Parade” or on Facebook, North Dakota State Parade.

Entries are lined up according to date received. Numbers will be mailed out after July 5. Deadline to guarantee being announced, judged or listed in the newspaper is June 21. A late fee of $5 will be assessed for entries after that.

For more information contact the State Parade Committee at P.O. Box 2157; Minot, North Dakota 58702-2157 or call 838-0104 and leave a message, or email: ndparade2002@yahoo.com. Those interested in volunteering to serve on the parade committee are always welcome and can use the same contact information listed above.

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