Aviation and Agriculture: It's All in the Family at Valley Sprayers

August 10, 2012

Glen Wharam

When Glen Wharam of Park River, North Dakota, started Valley Sprayers — which performs custom aerial and ground applications of crop protection products — he had no idea he was starting a family tradition in agriculture.

“Airplanes have been an interest of mine forever. My father was a pilot, and I remember flying since I was very young, and it just stayed with me.”

Agriculture has stayed with his children as well.

“We grew up at the airport working in agriculture,” said Chris Wharam, who as a teenager spent his summers with his older brother, Jayse, and his dad, Glen, loading airplanes. “Some of my first memories are going around making service calls in the pickup with my dad and listening to Beach Boys music.”

Chris went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture and plant pathology from North Dakota State University, and is now a Business Representative with BASF in eastern North Dakota.

“Since we were 10 or 12 years old, Chris and I have been hanging out at the airport,” recalls Jayse. “I remember one year we were so busy we worked 36 straight days, including weekends. But it was so much fun and I realized I loved aviation, so it didn’t really seem like work.”

Years later, Jayse is now the chief pilot for the family business.
“Having the freedom to fly was something I wanted since I was a kid, and I still enjoy it today,” Jayse said. “The business aspect might get a little grueling, but the flying is always enjoyable.”

Glen said of Jayse, “He’s conscientious, he’s safe – you won’t get a better job from any pilot. He will take over the business one day.”

As the family continues their tradition in agriculture, Chris said he’s feels lucky to work for a company that supports the aerial application industry.

“I’m proud to be associated with BASF,” he says. “My family’s involvement in the aerial application business means I’m a bit partial to that industry. So to work for a company that is supportive of that is personally rewarding.”

As the President of the North Dakota Aerial Applicators Association (NDAAA) and a member of the National Agricultural Aviation Association, Glen is familiar with the support BASF provides to the industry.

In 2011, he nominated Jordan Loewen of Park River for the NAAA-BASF Agricultural Aviation Scholarship program. Jordan was awarded the scholarship at the 2011 annual convention in Las Vegas. In early 2012, Jordan became Valley Sprayers’ newest pilot.

“With the sponsorship and support of things like Operation S.A.F.E. and NAAA scholarships, which bring new people into the industry, BASF has been a big help for us,” says Glen. “We can’t thank them enough for all they do to help our industry thrive.”

Watch the full video on our YouTube channel.


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