4-H Beef Project Teaches Life-Long Lessons

Jon Suntken and Tami Pralle’s shared passion for 4-H brought them together in 1979 when they were selected to serve on the Franklin County 4-H Council. They have made their home on the Suntken’s Iowa Century Farm for 36 years.

“All of our children began showing bucket calves at the Franklin County Fair when they turned five, and someone from our family showed bucket calves for 17 consecutive years,” says Tami. “This helped our kids develop a passion for showing and judging livestock.”

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The Suntken family.

The 2021 Franklin County Fair will mark the first time in 27 years that the Suntken family will not be showing cattle at the fair. However, their years showing cattle provided them with life-long memories and taught them important life lessons.

“4-H has taught our children lessons and provided them with many experiences that are important in life: work ethic, responsibility, how to start and finish projects, character development, meeting new people, public speaking, helping others and developing new friendships.”

The Suntken’s oldest daughter, Katelyn, served as both Franklin County beef princess in 2007 and beef queen in 2008. She and her husband, Ryan Borcherding, live in Reading, Pennsylvania, with their four-year-old daughter. Katelyn is a stay-at-home mom, and Ryan works for Deere & Company as a regional manager. The Suntken’s oldest son, Kellen, interned with Latham Hi-Tech Seeds in the early years of our precision ag program. Kellen graduated from Iowa State University. He serves as Plant Operations Lead for Syngenta Seeds in Lone Tree, Iowa. He also remains active in the family’s farming operation. Their son Kendrick played linebacker for the University of Northern Iowa and now farms with his dad. Kenrick also is a chemical rep for Innvictis Crop Care and Biodyne USA. Kirsten just finished her freshman year at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Ankeny where she is majoring in Ag Business. This summer is serving as a precision ag intern with Latham Hi-Tech Seeds.

Kirsten Beef Queen

“Serving as Franklin County Beef Queen was an honor. I loved representing an industry that I am passionate about,” says Kirsten Suntken. “One highlight as Beef Queen was being part of a new cattle show in August called the North Iowa Cattle Battle. Although my time as queen wasn’t what I was expecting due to Covid-19, I learned a lot through these times. I also learned to never take anything for granted.”


“It was an honor to be selected for the Governor’s Charity Steer Show and to raise money for a good cause,” says Kendrick Suntken. “It was also rewarding to help clean up the Ronald McDonald House in Des Moines.”

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Kellen and Kendrick Suntken had the honor of being part of the team that placed second in the 2011 Iowa State Fair 4-H livestock judging competition. From left to right are former Franklin County 4-H members: Kellen Suntken, Joe DeVries, Kendrick Suntken, and Drew Abbas. Kendrick also was the first place individual in that competition. During his career, he also placed third overall in the state FFA competition and earned High Individual at the ISU Spring Extravaganza. Kellen placed second in the individual competition for 4-H in 2011. He also was a member of the Iowa State University Livestock judging team when he was in college.

The Sunkten’s diversified farming operation includes corn and soybeans plus a cow-calf herd and a custom hog finishing operation. Jon started farming full-time in 1979 and also worked 12 winters at Latham Seeds. He has been a contract Latham® soybean grower for 42 years. Tami works full time as a program technician at the Wright County Farm Service Agency.

Today Tami is sharing a recipe for grape salad with an Irish twist. Kirsten is promoting Iowa beef during Beef Month by sharing with us one of her favorite recipes for pot roast in a crock pot.

Grape Salad with an Irish Twist


  • 8-ounces of Philadelphia® cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 pounds of large, red, seedless grapes


  • Wash grapes.
  • Cream cheese and sugars, then add other ingredients and mix all together.
  • Gently fold grapes into creamed mixture.

Pot Roast in a Crockpot

Recipe by Kirsten Suntken


  • 3- to 4-pound boneless chuck roast (lean)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 package of dry brown gravy mix
  • 1 package of onion soup mix
  • 2 cups ginger ale


  1. Put flour in a Ziploc® bag; add meat and shake.
  2. Put floured meat in a crockpot, keeping the extra flour in the bag.
  3. Next add the package of gravy mix and the onion soup to the remaining flour; shake together.
  4. Pour the flour mixture into a batter bowl; add 2 cups of ginger ale; pour over meat in crockpot.
  5. Cook on low for 8 hours.