The South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) presented annual awards to an ag college dean, a marketing company, a WNAX reporter and a legislator Jan. 7 during the organization's 26th annual meeting at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
Barry Dunn, dean of South Dakota State University's College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, is this year's Most Valuable Player in Agriculture. The MVP award is given to an individual or organization that has helped achieve common goals and create advancements in the agricultural industry.
Dunn, who has three academic degrees from SDSU, was recognized for his commitment to agriculture and his vision for the future. Faced with a serious budget shortfall during a time of state budget cuts, Dunn restructured the Extension Service and placed a bigger emphasis on technology to meet the state's needs. Under his leadership, SDSU has developed a program known as iGrow, a free web-based service that allows online access to Extension information and resources.
Paulsen Marketing of Sioux Falls is winner of the Excellence in Agriculture award, which recognizes significant contributions to the ag industry as a whole. The Corn Growers recognized the agency for taking the organization's ideas and developing them to their fullest potential. Among the most successful recent projects are the True Environmentalists multimedia campaign and an interactive trailer, the Amazing Corn Adventure.
The Paulsen staff was commended for its progressive approach, creativity, push for perfection, and commitment to agriculture. Paulsen has partnered with South Dakota Corn for a number of years and also works with other South Dakota agricultural associations. Paulsen President Greg Guse and several members of his staff accepted the award.
Michelle Rook of WNAX Radio is winner of the Excellence in Public Outreach Award. Rook is a familiar face at agricultural events throughout the region and also is a familiar voice on the radio. The Corn Growers cited her passion for covering ag issues and her excellent understanding of complex agricultural issues.
Rook, who grew up on a South Dakota farm, leads a farm department at a radio station that has the highest farm audience ratings in the nation. In addition to her radio work, she is a regional reporter for nationally syndicated TV shows AgDay and U.S. Farm Report. Her newest TV segment, Heartland Consumer, appears on KELO TV.
State Rep. Kim Vanneman of Ideal was presented the Outstanding Legislative Leadership Award. Vanneman, who represents Gregory and Tripp counties in District 26B, took office in 2007 and quickly emerged as a legislative leader. She has been heavily involved in agriculture from the start and is visionary when it comes to agricultural issues, the Corn Growers said in their presentation.
Vanneman is chairwoman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and has worked to maintain the state's business-friendly status, which benefits value-added agriculture. She worked to ensure that property taxes on ag land are fair and that laws encourage the use of ethanol blender pumps. She also led the legislative redistricting process.
More than 1,000 farmers, industry partners and legislators attended the annual event. William Murphy, administrator of the U.S. Risk Management Agency, spoke in the morning about crop insurance and other federal farm programs. The evening's keynote speaker was Gov. Dennis