December 08, 2022

ISA announces award recipients

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Illinois Soybean Association announced the inaugural ISA Achievement Award recipients.

In May, ISA began accepting nominations for five award categories, including the Chairman’s Award, Excellence in Media Award, Farm Family of the Year, Friend of Illinois Soybean Farmers and Legislator of the Year.

Chairman’s Award

The ISA Chairman’s Award recognizes an individual who has gone above and beyond to serve the state’s soybean interests.

It is the highest award given by the association and is presented in appreciation of one’s dedication, leadership and years of service to the soybean industry. The recipient of this year’s Chairman’s Award is Ken Dalenberg.

Dalenberg grew up in southern Illinois on a dairy farm, and after attending University of Illinois and obtaining his bachelor’s degree in 1971, he established himself in Piatt/Champaign County and worked his way into farm ownership all the while serving as a member and leader to Farm Bureau, the corn and soybean associations, advisory boards to the U of I, congressional ag committees and many other industry-supporting groups.

Dalenberg has been an early innovator in precision ag. He spent time away from the farm in almost every year of the ‘80s and ‘90s promoting agriculture and soy most specifically in Brazil, China, Taiwan, Japan, Argentina and Europe.

On the local level, he is a township board supervisor and has sat on local committees for drainage, land use and other areas of concern.

He farms in Mansfield with his wife, Barbara.

“Ken has dedicated many years of his business and personal life to the advancement of soy,” said his brother, Darren Dalenberg.

“He can be found working late nights at his desk or from the cab of whatever equipment he is running by day, talking with legislators, media, professors, industry officials and other ag professionals about current and potential future opportunities for U.S. soy.”

Excellence In Media Award

The ISA Excellence in Media Award recognizes a member of the media who promotes Illinois soybeans and Illinois agriculture through their coverage in print, broadcast, social and beyond. The recipient of the Excellence in Media Award is Stu Ellis.

Ellis has been a well-known agricultural communicator in Illinois for 50 years. Beginning as the farm broadcaster at WSOY in Decatur, he expanded his service to Corn Belt farmers through radio, television, newspapers, newsletters and the internet.

He joined WCIA 3 in Champaign, providing morning agricultural programming to viewers of WCIA 3 and WCIX 49 in Springfield.

Ellis was raised on a Christian County farm near Taylorville and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the U of I in communications. Ellis has expanded his service to agriculture through video reports on a wide range of issues from various locations.

“Stu’s lifetime devotion to all-things agriculture makes him an excellent candidate for this award,” said ISA Chairman Steve Pitstick.

“I always look for his newsletter that is packed full of a variety of weekly information. He has an incredible ability to share information that is relevant and readable for everyone.”

Farm Family Of The Year

ISA’s Farm Family of the Year Award recognizes an Illinois farm family who is actively engaged in ISA’s membership program, shows commitment to ISA programming and has demonstrated impact in their community and across the industry. The recipient of the Farm Family of the Year Award is the Hulsizer Family.

Liz Hulsizer and her husband, Matt Hulsizer, are members of the Illinois Soybean Growers. Most notably, Liz and Matt were very involved in promoting mental health awareness this past May, including podcasts and webinars and speaking in front of groups, including the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders’ group, which had up to 500 individuals.

The couple was also heavily engaged in the promotion of ISA’s Young Farmer “20 Under 40″ Program with Matt ultimately being named as a finalist.

At home in their community, Matt and Liz are well respected for their many contributions to the Knox County area, including their involvement in local commodity and nonprofit organizations and their church.

“The Hulsizers have been some of our best advocates for ISA this year,” said Rachel Peabody, ISA communications director.

“Not only were they selected as Illinois participants for the 2022 ASA Corteva Young Leader Class, but they are engaged with ISA on multiple other fronts and participate in our programming. They are top-notch, young ISG members who answer the call when ISA needs them, and they tell our story well.”

Friend Of Illinois Soybean Farmers

The Friend of Illinois Soybean Farmers Award recognizes a friend to the organization in any capacity and is presented in appreciation of one’s efforts in championing on behalf of Illinois soybean farmers. The recipient of the ISA Friend of Illinois Soybean Farmers Award is Emerson Nafziger.

Nafziger grew up on a farm in northwestern Ohio and earned degrees in agronomy from Ohio State University, Purdue University and the U of I. He served beginning in 1982 as professor and Extension agronomist at the U of I at Urbana-Champaign and remains active after retiring in 2017.

Nafziger is best known for his work in crop and soil management, including plant populations, planting timing, rotations, tillage and nitrogen management practices.

“Emerson is always working with farmers through the Extension program at the University of Illinois,” said ISA Board Member David Wessel. “He is great at providing valuable, relevant and timely information. This is someone ISA should recognize because he truly has farmers’ backs like a good neighbor would.”

Legislator Of The Year

The ISA Legislator of the Year Award recognizes Illinois lawmakers who are actively making a difference for soybean farmers by advocating for policy and regulatory issues important to our industry. The award is presented in recognition of a proven track record of support and for championing farm policy.

The recipients of the Legislator of the Year Award are U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos and Rodney Davis.

The granddaughter of a hog farmer and a native of downstate Illinois, Bustos has served the constituents of Illinois’ 17th Congressional District for the last decade.

Throughout her five terms in office, she has been a tireless advocate for family farmers on the House Agriculture Committee where she currently chairs the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.

From working to pass two farm bills and promoting the use of biofuels to helping advance trade certainty through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and securing $874.1 million to modernize locks and dams, Bustos has remained focused on ensuring that American farmers can feed, fuel and clothe the country for generations to come — and that rural communities have the tools they need to survive and thrive.

“Rep. Bustos has been a tireless and regular advocate for her district and agricultural issues for Illinois,” said Andrew Larson, ISA director of government relations and strategy.

“Over her 10-year career in Congress she has been a champion for trade with Cuba, ethanol, biodiesel and promoting farm life. She has made it a priority to develop relationships with ag groups and the farmers who have been advocates for issues relevant to her district.”

Davis is currently serving his fifth term in Congress representing the 13th District of Illinois, which covers a 14-county region that includes both urban and rural communities in central and southwestern Illinois.

Davis serves on the Committee on House Administration, where he is the ranking member, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, and the House Committee on Agriculture.

Prior to being elected to the U.S. House in 2012, Davis served as projects director for Congressman John Shimkus for 16 years.

In 2020, Davis was ranked the 13th most bipartisan member of the House of Representatives out of 435 members by the Lugar Center, which is the gold standard in measuring bipartisanship in Washington.