Joe Peden is a farmer, a conservationist, a community leader, a teacher, and a gentleman. He earned a B.S. in Agronomy from Purdue University and has since become a USDA District Conservationist, State Agronomist, and Self-employed farmer.
Joe promotes the agricultural industry through his words and his deeds. As a soil conservationist, he educates farmers about no-till practices and building terraces and waterways. Second and third generation farmers trust that if Joe Peden says a practice is a good one, it must be. As a farmer, he promotes agriculture education by opening his farm each spring to thousands of elementary school students through the Children’s Farm Festival. This two-day event introduces children to all aspects of farming and shows them the importance it has in our lives. There are 30 stations and hands-on activities for the children to interact with animals and watch demonstrations. This event offers an opportunity for students to get out of the classroom and discover for themselves their food does not just come from the grocery store. But the Children’s Farm Festival does not just benefit elementary students; it is a community event. 250 adult volunteers, 50 to 75 high school students, even a state representative, volunteer each year to make sure the event is a success. Working at the Children’s Farm Festival gives 4-H and FFA members a sense of responsibility and shows them how important it is to educate the public about agriculture. This event is so important to the community that even in this financial climate, anonymous donors give large amounts to make sure the children get to the farm, the tractors can be fueled, there is plenty of food for the volunteers, and many other needs. Joe Peden has a love of teaching and sharing agriculture’s message that has impacted everyone from 5 to 85.
Joe’s character and leadership shine through in everything he does. He and his wife have been awarded the Prairie Farmer Master Farmer Award, Friend of Extension, Monroe County Farm Family of the Year, and the City of Bloomington, “Be More Award” for Community Service. Joe and Joyce were also awarded Indiana University’s Alpha Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa International Outstanding Partners in Education in 2007. Joe is a part of the Monroe County Farm Bureau, Monroe County Fair Board, Monroe County Soil & Water Conservation Board, and leads the Maple Leaf 4-H club. Joe has also been the secretary of the White River Co-op for more than ten years. He serves as an elder at the Maple Grove Christian Church and is the director for South Central Indiana REMC.