The journey began in April when Thrive asked its readers to describe in 200 words or less the person who most nourished their agricultural roots. A panel of judges then named five finalists, based on the quality of their entries. They each received a mini touch-screen tablet and the chance to compete for the grand prize—a $500 gift card and $1,000 donation to his or her favorite local charity or civic organization.

Now, the journey comes to an end, as Syngenta names the winner of its 2017 #RootedinAg Contest: Tori Streitmatter, talent acquisition coordinator for GROWMARK, Inc., in Sparland, Illinois. Streitmater won this recognition after Syngenta tabulated the judges’ scores and combined them with the total number of online votes each finalist received from mid-July to mid-September.

In her winning essay, Streitmatter names her father, Dave, as the person who has most influenced her love of agriculture. “My father is who I credit for fueling my fire for agriculture,” she writes. “He was my biggest motivator throughout my 4-H and FFA days. He taught me how to work hard without expecting anything in return, live simply, stay humble, respect everyone’s ideas, give back to my community, problem solve, stand up for what I believe in, and ALWAYS hold my farm family close to my heart.”

Streitmatter plans to donate the $1,000 award from Syngenta in honor of her father to the Midland FFA Alumni because it funds scholarships and convention fees for FFA students in her hometown.

“We’re grateful to everyone who shared their inspiring stories with us and the thousands of Thrive readers who voted for their favorite finalist,” says Wendell Calhoun, Syngenta communications manager. “We’re especially proud to recognize Tori and her father, who played such an important role in shaping who she is today.”

Thrive will feature a more in-depth article on Streitmatter in early 2018.

Enjoy Streitmatter’s heartfelt essay below:

A Tribute to My Father

By Tori Streitmatter

I was age five and just woke up from a deep sleep, while being carried up the driveway from the shed where Dad parked his truck. It was dark outside, and I was wrapped up in a men’s sweatshirt. I could smell the fresh cut corn. My father was the one carrying me. I then heard my brother and sister following us closely. They were holding Dad’s lunchbox, thermos and Carhartt coveralls. I was gazing up at the stars, and it was silent on the farm. I thought to myself, “This is what I live for.”

I had fallen asleep in the cab of the combine that night, and this was an every night ritual for all the Streitmatter kids during harvest. As old as it must have gotten, Dad performed this routine every evening because he loved us and wanted to expose us to the lessons that cannot be learned in textbooks.

My father is who I credit for fueling my fire for agriculture. He was my biggest motivator throughout my 4-H and FFA days. He taught me how to work hard without expecting anything in return, live simply, stay humble, respect everyone’s ideas, give back to my community, problem solve, stand up for what I believe in, and ALWAYS hold my farm family close to my heart. He has exemplified countless characteristics that have transformed me into the extremely passionate young “agvocate” I am today. I owe everything I am to my father.