“Teachers. Mentors. Doers. Dedicated. Hardworking. Driven.” These are all words that current and past students and employees use to describe Mike and Betty Brink. The couple took their place in the spotlight in the South Dakota State University Animal Science Arena on April 1, when they were recognized as the 2017 SDSU Little International Honored Agriculturalists. The Brinks live and farm near Redfield, S.D., where they raise registered Hampshire sheep, cattle, and a broad variety of crops.
Mike attended South Dakota State University from 1972 to 1976 and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Education. Betty attended Northern State University from 1977 to 1981, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in English Education before later returning to Northern in 1994 to complete a Master of Art’s degree in teaching. The couple married July 30, 1989.
While attending SDSU, Mike was heavily involved on campus in activities including the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, Little International, and Agricultural Education Club. Mike also participated in meats, dairy, and wool judging while attending SDSU. He attained success participating in the SDSU International, winning the title of dairy showmanship champion. He later went on to be both the Little I sheep and dairy superintendent.
During Betty’s time at NSU in Aberdeen, she was involved in Sigma Tau Delta, Northern’s English honor fraternity, was a member of Kappa Delta Pi, a national education society, and the Order of Maroon and Gold. These two outstanding individuals were extremely dedicated and involved in clubs and organizations during their collegiate careers, and still take pride in them today.
After earning his degree in Agricultural Education, Mike began teaching at Tulare, S.D., in 1977 and immediately started cultivating the minds of his students. During his forty years of teaching, Mike has run one of the most successful FFA chapters in South Dakota. Earning approximately 25 first-place South Dakota state-winning teams, and multiple contending national teams, Mike’s program has shown its worth. Though his students note that his high expectations and intense teaching style can, at times, seem daunting, his approach proves to be effective time and time again.
Betty spent 13 years teaching English at Tulare High School before she returned back to the farm full-time. She now devotes a majority of her time tending to the cattle and sheep, as well as sharing her love for agriculture by allowing kids to come out to the farm and see the animals.
Aside from teaching, Mike and Betty also own a diversified livestock and crop operation. For the past 46 years the Brink Farm has had continuous production of registered Hampshire sheep. Mike and Betty are also lifelong members of the Hereford Association and the American Hampshire Sheep Association. In 2005, Mike and Betty were named the Friends of Conservation and in 2015 were awarded the South Dakota Master Lamb Producer Award for their elite skills, practices, and production outcomes.
Mike said that attending SDSU gave him the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of activities that he was interested in, and as a result, encouraged him to participate in Agricultural Education and make that a lifelong career. He enjoys working with students and seeing them advance in their dreams. His advice to students is to get involved with as many activities that interest them as possible because the amount of knowledge they will gain is tremendous.