LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Corn Board presented five individuals with awards of ag achievement at their annual awards dinner held March 19, 2018 in Lincoln. The annual awards recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the overall agricultural industry, as well as the livestock, ethanol, ag media and agribusiness sectors.
Keith Olsen was awarded with the Board’s highest honor, the Ag Achievement Award, due to his many years of dedicated service to the industry. Keith served as the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation President from 2002-2011. Through this role, Keith was active in shaping agricultural policy, sharing agriculture’s story, encouraging young people to become involved in agriculture, and he supported international trade and economic development.
“Keith is a fantastic example of an ag leader,” said Dave Merrell, District Seven Director and Chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Throughout his career, he’s traveled thousands of miles on international trade missions with governors, state officials and farm leaders to promote American agriculture. He’s also been instrumental in communicating the value of Nebraska’s corn checkoff to government leaders and policy makers.”
Sen. Deb Fischer was awarded with the Ethanol Industry Appreciation Award. Sen. Fischer has been a constant champion for increasing ethanol production and demand. Due to a scheduling conflict, Sen. Fischer was unable to attend the awards dinner, and the award will be presented to her at a later date.
“Sen. Fischer has worked tirelessly to extend the RVP waiver to include higher blends of ethanol, such as E15,” said Merrell. “Additionally, with the recent attacks on the RFS, we know we can count on Sen. Fischer to stand up for Nebraska’s corn farmers in Washington.”
This year’s Livestock Industry Appreciation Award was presented to Chris Calkins, Professor of Animal Science with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Throughout his career, Chris has focused on beef quality. Through his research, Chris has helped develop several new cuts of beef, such as the flat iron steak. Additionally, he has taken part in other value-added initiatives, such as consumer marketing research, which established the value of beef flavor and tenderness.
“Through Dr. Calkins’ research, the value of beef products has gone up, which means increased demand for our corn,” said David Bruntz, District One Director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Dr. Calkins has been recognized around the world for his expertise in meat quality and it’s only fitting we are able to recognize him with this award and thank him for his work.”
Susan Littlefield, Farm Director with the Rural Radio Network, was the recipient of the Media Appreciation Award. Susan has been a trusted voice of ag news for over 25 years. Through her coverage, Susan has interviewed many local, national and international leaders involved in the corn industry.
“Susan has interviewed me on a number of occasions in the last several years,” said Jon Holzfaster, District Eight Director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Through each experience, Susan is well-prepared and knowledgeable on each topic. She’s a great asset to her listeners and for Nebraska agriculture.”
The Nebraska Agribusiness Appreciation Award was given to Ray Ward, founder of Ward Laboratories, Inc. This Kearney-based agribusiness was founded in 1983 and specializes in testing soils, plants, feed, forages, water, manures, fertilizers and other special projects. Ray is a certified professional agronomist and certified soil scientist.
“Ward Laboratories, Inc. is an important resource for many farmers in Nebraska,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, District Three Director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “The Nebraska Corn Board is always encouraging farmers to take advantage of efficiencies in their operations. Through agronomic testing, farmers can truly understand the science behind farming, which can help in their overall profitability.”
Each award winner was identified and selected by the Nebraska Corn Board.
The Nebraska Corn Board is funded through a producer checkoff investment of ½-cent-per-bushel checkoff on all corn marketed in the state and is managed by nine farmer directors. The mission of the Nebraska Corn Board is to promote the value of corn by creating opportunities.