WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Patty Judge is a trailblazer in Iowa agriculture, serving as the state’s first woman to be elected secretary of agriculture, where she served two terms.

Mark Pearson, the late host of IPTV’s Market to Market and the Big Show on WHO Radio, was a household name for many Iowans.

And George Cummins, retired crop specialist with Iowa State University Extension Service, who still uses his agronomy background and farming experiences to serve as an advocate for agriculture.

The efforts of these Iowans have helped the cause of Iowa agriculture and rural communities over the past few decades, earning them the 2013 Iowa Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture award.

They were recognized during the Iowa Farm Bureau annual meeting.   The three winners received plaques honoring their achievements and will be added to a permanent display at IFBF headquarters in West Des Moines.  

Patty Judge

With years of experience in the health care field, efforts to promote rural Iowa and public service, Judge spent her life promoting the state of Iowa.

After a career in health care as a registered nurse, Judge turned her attention to public service. She was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 1992 and reelected in 1996.

During her six years in the senate, Judge held numerous leadership positions, including assistant majority and minority leader, ranking member of the Agriculture Committee and member of the Appropriations Committee, Ways and Means Committee, Health and Human Services Committee, Natural Resources Committee and Economic Development Committee. She also served as chair of the Regulation and Administration Appropriations Subcommittee.

In 1998, Judge became the first woman in Iowa to be elected secretary of agriculture. She served the role for two terms, following reelection in 2002.

Judge and her family have owned a cow-calf farm in Monroe County for more than 40 years. In addition to working on the family farm, Judge owns and operates her own strategic planning business.

Mark Pearson

As the former host of IPTV’s Market to Market for more than 20 years and 1,000 episodes and longtime farm broadcaster and host of WHO Radio’s Big Show, Pearson was heard by nearly one million listeners and viewers.

In addition to serving as an agriculture personality on television and radio, Pearson worked as the markets editor for Successful Farming and as Iowa’s assistant secretary of agriculture.

In 1980, he received the most coveted award in agricultural broadcasting, the DeKalb Oscar. In 1986, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve as a military intelligence officer and eventually earned the rank of lieutenant commander.

In 1995, Pearson and his family moved to a farm in east Peru, where he built a diversified grain and livestock operation.

Pearson developed a reputation as someone able to bridge the gap between rural and urban America.

George Cummins

Cummins is known for his combination of agricultural experience and knowledge coupled with the ability to teach others. He has amazed those in the agricultural community with his animated and engaging seminars and training sessions, all the way up to his retirement.

Although officially retired, one doesn’t have to look hard to find Cummins actively engaged in Iowa agriculture.  

Cummins moved to Floyd County in 1981 as the new ISU County Extension agent. Loyalty to the land grant college system and commitment to his farmer clients earned him the reputation as a strong leader for agriculture.

Cummins orchestrated the countywide Floyd County Agricultural Development, a coalition of agricultural producers, businesses and industry leaders to promote economic growth.

Early in life, Cummins developed the same beliefs as his role model, Norman Borlaug. Using Borlaug’s work as inspiration, he had an integral role in the creation of the Borlaug Learning Center at the ISU Research Farm near Nashua.