Four outstanding agriculturists were recognized for their outstanding work during the first-ever Ag Connect Expo in Orlando.
The "Advocating for Ag" awards recognize those who support "in a compelling way the work of farmers and ranchers to provide abundant and affordable food and fiber."
Watch the official awards ceremony:
The winners were:
Liz Doornink, Ag Woman of the Year, Grand Prize Winner
Liz Doornink is the co-leader of AFACT, American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology. Her family owns Jon-De Farm, Inc., a dairy farm in Baldwin, Wisconsin. Liz is passionate about the dairy business and has an interesting perspective, raised a city girl in New York. Liz is concerned that our world will have the ability to produce enough food for 9 billion people in 2050 (United Nations prediction). Safe, abundant food requires safe technology. Yet, many are fearful and skeptical about using technology in food production. Organizing and speaking, Liz has taught many to speak out and advocate for agriculture, correcting misconceptions, sharing values, traveling around the country. Liz has also hosted hundreds of visitors to Jon-De Farm and has given many interviews, including one to the BBC. Leading by example, Jon-De Farm participates in Wisconsin voluntary environmental stewardship program, Green Tier.
Jolene Brown, Ag Woman of the Year, Runner-Up
It is my honor to nominate Jolene Brown for the 2010 Ag Woman of the Year Award. She is a masterful professional speaker, mentor, educator, wise and caring family business consultant and credible spokesperson for our industry. Jolene is an active partner with her husband, Keith, on their Iowa grain farm. I've known Jolene for 15 years. During that time, she has spoken to our farmer/rancher members at state and national Farm Bureau events. She has consistently received high marks for her knowledge of agriculture and her ability to understand and consult on individual issues. She has also spoken at agricultural events across North America, Australia and New Zealand. She has taught producers how to lead, keep a family business strong, celebrate and laugh! Jolene also works with the news media and through social media to make sure the messages of agriculture are accurate and inviting for all to experience. She has also a devoted mother to two daughters and a supportive partner to her husband.
Fred Rogge, Community Leadership Award, Grand Prize Winner
Fred has been active in agriculture throughout his youth and during the intervening years, raising beef cattle, alfalfa, corn, milo, sunflowers, and soybeans. He is president of the Washington County FFA Alumni, as well as vice president of the Washington County Farm Bureau. He has been a diligent contributor while attending local events which involve the youth, inspiring them to become leaders in the field of agriculture.
Julie Brashear, Community Leadership Award, Runner-Up
Julie leads the Agriculture Department by teaching Agri-science and Veterinary Assisting classes to over 250 high school students. She serves as an advisor to the award winning Sickles High School FFA Chapter where students win blue ribbons at regional speaking competitions. She is consistently available 7 days a week to students raising goats, sheep, swine, beef, and poultry on campus to show at local exhibitions. She maintains her own vet assisting skills helping out at a local vet during the summer. She shares her love for the agriculture industry by taking students on field trips to an Ag expo and a working fish farm and sharing information about higher education opportunities and careers in Agriculture. Julie teaches her students to embody the FFA principles of serving others, on the weekends or holidays you'll find her installing waterers or repairing fences on the pens or serving as the school's volleyball coach.
Samuel Petty, Ag Innovation Award, Grand Prize Winner
Samuel Petty, of Vernon, Texas, has an entrepreneurial mind beyond his years. The 23-year-old college senior grew up on a farm and is always willing to help a fellow farmer. In 2007, Petty was building electric fence for a cattle farmer. Feeling a rush to complete the fence, he wanted a way to make the job easier. He developed the Flatland Ranch-Hand after drawing many designs. The completed device is simple, time-saving, and cost-efficient. Fence builders simply place the device in the receiver hitch of their trucks. One man can now build fence more quickly and uniform than three men. Petty didn't intend to promote or patent the product, but after much encouragement, it is now patent-pending. The Flatland Ranch-Hand is now on the market, and many farmers in west Texas have used innovation with success. Agriculture needs simple technologies to maintain farming operations, and it also needs people like Samuel Petty, who can acknowledge problems and develop the tools to fix them.
Christopher Callahan, Ag Innovation Award, Runner-Up
Chris Callahan and the group at Next Gen Illumination has promoted for government support for assistance in reducing energy demand for the poultry producers in Arkansas and throughout the United state and were instrumental in lobbying the USDA, DOE, Arkansas Energy Office, utility companies and educational institutions to support energy efficiency measure through financial support, research and assistance in streamlining existing support processes. This has had enormous success over the last year and led to the approval of American Recovery and Reinvestment funds of $1.6 million dedicated to energy efficiency lighting conversion for poultry growers throughout the state. These individual deserve to be recognized and should be lauded for their efforts on behalf of agriculture.
Online voting by the ag community helped select the winners, and more than 20,000 votes were cast for the 15 finalists.