Farm Rescue Recognizes Good Samaritans

Two Farm Rescue Volunteers Receive Good Samaritan Award

Susan Payne
By  Susan Payne , DTN Social Media and Young Farmer Editor
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Volunteers Emil Baranko and Michael Wilson received the 2023 Good Samaritan Award from Farm Rescue, a nonprofit that provides free planting, haying, harvesting, commodity hauling and livestock feeding assistance to farm families experiencing major illness, injury or natural disaster. (Photos courtesy of Farm Rescue)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Farm Rescue continues its annual tradition of honoring two volunteers who have supported the organization while having the compassionate heart of a "Good Samaritan."

In January, Emil Baranko of Waukegan, Illinois, and Michael Wilson of Bettendorf, Iowa, were awarded Farm Rescue's 2023 Good Samaritan Award for their longtime volunteer work and compassion toward families experiencing major illness, injury or natural disaster.

The Good Samaritan Award was created in 2016 to honor individuals who have supported Farm Rescue with an overwhelming contribution to further the mission of the organization, serving as an ambassador for the nonprofit or going above and beyond as an Angel in Blue volunteer to help farm families in crisis.

Printed on the Good Samaritan Award plaque is the parable of the Good Samaritan, from which the award is named, found in the Bible as Luke 10:25-37.

From 2016 to 2018, Farm Rescue only awarded one Good Samaritan Award per year, but that changed in 2019 when the organization started naming two honorees per year.

In total, Farm Rescue has recognized 10 recipients, a group that Wilson, in an interview with DTN, calls "rare."

"The Good Samaritan Award is a real honor because I know the individuals who have received it in the past and have worked with many of them. The dedication of those individuals and the time they have spent devoted to Farm Rescue, I consider myself in rare company to be welcomed into that group," Wilson said.

Baranko and Wilson's combined service to the organization spans nearly two decades. Through dedication, hard work and leadership, the two have helped grow Farm Rescue's impact in rural communities as well as its base of supporters, inspiring other volunteers to follow in their footsteps.

"Emil Baranko and Michael Wilson exemplify the 'Good Samaritans' that make our mission a success," stated Bill Gross, founder and president of Farm Rescue, in a press release. "May God bless them for their selfless acts of helping others in a time of crisis."


Baranko grew up on a farm near Chesterton, Indiana, the son of a Hungarian immigrant who purchased a farm as a means of supplementing his income and feeding his family. During college, Baranko pursued a degree in biology and served in the Peace Corps for three years. The Peace Corps led him to Orissa, India, where he taught agricultural mechanics, worked on tractors and other farm equipment, and assisted with land reclamation projects. He was then drafted into the United States Army for two years and spent some of that time in Germany. After returning stateside, Baranko began a career in construction, eventually becoming vice president of construction for Richard Smykal, Inc. Working in construction helped Baranko gain experience with heavy equipment and trucks.

In retirement, Baranko started volunteering for Farm Rescue and met Kenneth Chyle, a former Good Samaritan Award recipient. The pair formed an immediate bond and have worked together on dozens of assistance cases throughout their service career. Baranko is in his 10th year of service with Farm Rescue.

"My history of farming goes back quite a way and when I applied to Farm Rescue, I had to explain I hadn't farmed since the '60s. It's one of those things like riding a bike. Driving a combine from the late '40s to now, the driving is the same, but there's a lot more technology that's filled in some of the gaps," Baranko said in an interview with DTN.

"I work with a group of guys at Farm Rescue, any and all who should have received the award. It's a great honor to be recognized individually," Baranko added.


Wilson was born in the Sauk Prairie region of Wisconsin. Although a "city kid," Wilson spent much of his childhood and teenage summers working on his uncle's dairy farm, where he caught the farming bug. Wilson pursued a degree in ag mechanization and moved to Dubuque, Iowa, for his first job with John Deere. In his 37 years with the company, he's held multiple positions at various locations, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Kansas. He's also spent time working overseas in Asia with John Deere.

Wilson retired in Bettendorf, Iowa, and was inspired by fellow John Deere retiree and former Good Samaritan Award recipient Mark Baumgarten to start volunteering. While also utilizing air seeders and row-crop planters, Wilson builds training materials and operational protocols for the organization, entering his eighth year of service.

Past recipients of the Good Samaritan Award include Agnes Liudahl of West Fargo, North Dakota; Reuben Liechty of Jamestown, North Dakota; the Engelstad Family of Las Vegas, Nevada; Gene Spichke and Warren Zakopyko of Kief, North Dakota; Erwin "Smokey" Wright of Minot, North Dakota; Bill Krumwiede of Voltaire, North Dakota; Charlie Bartsch of Velva, North Dakota; Garry Deckert of Bismarck, North Dakota; Kenneth Chyle of Auburn, Kentucky; and Mark Baumgarten of Bettendorf, Iowa.

To learn more about Farm Rescue, visit

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Susan Payne

Susan Payne
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