The Nebraska Corn Board presented its annual awards to five exceptional individuals during its Cooperator and Awards Dinner in Lincoln this week.
Pictured (L-R): Mark Jagels- Ag Achievement, Mike LaPorte- Media Appreciation, Joan Ruskamp- Livestock Industry Appreciation, Bill Pullen accepting on behalf of Bill's Volume Sales- Agribusiness Achievement, and Duane Kristensen- Ethanol Industry Appreciation.
For twenty-four years, the Nebraska Corn Board has acknowledged incomparable representatives in the livestock and ethanol industries, as well as awarding an individual in the media. The Ag Achievement award is the pinnacle of awards given to an individual who has helped develop Nebraska’s corn industry and agriculture over time. Additionally, the Nebraska Corn Board presented a new award this year in the agribusiness category.
The Livestock Industry Appreciation Award was given to Joan Ruskamp, farmer, blogger, community leader, and CommonGround volunteer from Dodge, Nebraska. Ruskamp was selected for this award based upon her outstanding commitment to Nebraska agriculture and continued enthusiasm to share her story with her urban counter-parts.
“I know that volunteering for CommonGround is a big commitment and we really appreciate her willingness to do this and do it so well,” said Debbie Borg, farmer from Allen, Nebraska and director on the Nebraska Corn Board. “Joan has the wonderful ability to share her story with consumers and help them not only understand, but appreciate the value of the livestock industry in Nebraska. She was very deserving of this award.”
The Ethanol Industry Appreciation Award recognizes a producer or person in the industry who has worked hard to develop ethanol markets and expand demand for ethanol in the state while appreciating the value of the corn checkoff and its involvement in ethanol market development. The recipient of this year’s award was Duane Kristensen, with Chief Ethanol Fuels, Inc. Kristensen was selected for his leadership in Nebraska as well as his involvement and engagement in ethanol advocacy groups on a statewide, national, and global basis.
“Duane’s dedication to the ethanol industry and continued efforts to expand the demand of ethanol globally has been influential for the industry,” said Dennis Gengenbach, farmer from Smithfield, Nebraska and secretary-treasurer on the Nebraska Corn Board. “Duane’s leadership has been powerful around the world. He’s traveled to over twenty countries promoting Nebraska and the role of ethanol in agriculture.”
The Media Appreciation Award was presented to Mike LaPorte, with KRVN Rural Radio, for his efforts in routinely sharing agriculture’s story and his knowledge and understanding of agriculture’s important role to our state’s economy. LaPorte has been with KRVN for 25 years and has been a Farm Director for the last 19 years.
“Mike’s background in agriculture gives him a unique perspective on his reporting and has helped him develop a great format for telling our story,” said David Merrell, farmer from St. Edward, Nebraska and vice chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “He is one of the first media sources that the Nebraska Corn Board reaches out to. We know that Mike will truthfully and openly reveal the facts of not only the corn industry, but all of Nebraska’s agriculture.”
The recipient of this year’s Ag Achievement award was Mark Jagels, farmer from Davenport, Nebraska and past chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and U.S. Meat Export Federation. Jagels was chosen for his outstanding dedication to agriculture and admirable goals in expanding exports and moving the state forward in its agricultural ambitions.
“Mark’s leadership and commitment to Nebraska agriculture is evident through his service on a local, state, national, and international level,” said Alan Tiemann, farmer from Seward, Nebraska and past chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “He has played an instrumental role in representing agriculture on the international level by helping expand the opportunities for both corn and livestock.
As the newest award category, the Agribusiness Appreciation Award, identifies a Nebraska agribusiness that recognizes and appreciates the mission of the Nebraska corn checkoff program, shows proven leadership in explaining the benefits of the checkoff and its investments and supports Nebraska agriculture. The recipient of this inaugural award went to Bill’s Volume Sales. Accepting the award on behalf of Bill’s Volume Sales was Bill Pullen, founder and former owner.
“Bill’s Volume Sales is a highly respected company in the agriculture industry and a long-time supporter of the Nebraska corn checkoff,” said Jon Holzfaster, farmer from Paxton, Nebraska and director on the Nebraska Corn Board. “Bill’s Volume has gone above and beyond to help their customers and keep our Nebraska corn farmers in business. We appreciate the company’s continued support and dedication to Nebraska agriculture.”