By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer
A Roosevelt County woman is the winner of a prestigious state agricultural award for her work helping several area children’s homes.
Michelle Heavyside is the winner of the “Diamonds in the Rough” award presented once every two years by Women in Agriculture Leadership.
The award was presented during ceremonies April 23 in Albuquerque.
Heavyside, a dairy woman, is the chairman of the Milk Lover’s Ball, which raises money for three local children’s homes. She is also is the founder and director of United Dairy Women and director of the annual Dairy Fest in eastern New Mexico.
“I’m extremely humble and honored,” Heavyside said. “Women from all over the state are nominated by their peers. To be nominated by your peers, people who know you, personally it is a great, great honor.”
Heavyside learned about the children’s homes’ needs from her church when she was helping out with a fashion show to raise money for one of the homes.
“During that time, a girl who worked at the home would travel with me,” Heavyside said. “Back and forth between Clovis and Portales. The girl asked what I do for a living.
“‘You obviously have a lot of time on your hands?’ I’m a dairy farmer’s wife, I replied.”
Heavyside said she would never forget the girl telling her how dairy products were sometimes limited to her and other children because of the lack of money.
Heavyside said she could not sleep after hearing that conversation. So she wrote to the other dairymen in the surrounding counties to help her on a “milk mission.”
The response raised enough milk for a year for the children anytime they needed it.
Heavyside learned about the other children’s homes and started a letter-writing campaign to dairy wives about raising money for children’s homes.
She volunteers for the homes, serves on several local and regional boards, all while raising two small children and working the family farm.
Shacey Sullivan, co-chairman of the Women in Agriculture Leadership, was part of the committee that selected Heavyside for the award.
Sullivan said Heavyside showed an extraordinary demonstration of leadership and ingenuity in starting the organization and cited the incredible amount of money she raised in a short time.
“That’s just extremely impressive,” Sullivan said. “It’s a shining example of what women in the ag industry can do.”