June 12, 2024

Agriculture advocates earn ICGA honors

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Illinois Corn Growers Association honored five individuals for their support of farmers and the industry during the group’s annual meeting Nov. 22.

World Of Corn

ICGA’s top award was presented to Mark Lambert, St. Louis, for his many years of service to Illinois corn farmers.

“Mark Lambert has a long history of service to American corn farmers, Illinois corn farmers specifically,” said Marty Marr, ICGA president and New Berlin area farmer.

“He has led the personal and professional development of so many farmer leaders, told our story when we couldn’t and represented us well since the 1980s.”

Lambert began his career writing for the Peoria Journal Star and was part of the team to launch Illinois AgriNews.

He came to Illinois Corn as the communications director in 1988 and served in that capacity for 21 years, afterward moving to serve the National Corn Growers Association as a senior communications manager for 10 years.

He totals four decades in communications and journalism, telling the story of agriculture and helping family farmers find a voice.

Throughout this extensive service to Illinois corn farmers, Lambert has led efforts to increase farmer trust at the formation of the Illinois Farm Families coalition, created the Corn Farmers Coalition to build relationships in Washington, D.C., administered the American Ethanol NASCAR project, created hard-hitting campaigns like the “No Thanks, Iraq” ads in the 1990s and coordinated the day-to-day communications work that made Illinois Corn a leader in so many political debates and educational projects.

“Mark has always worked tirelessly on our behalf and it is an honor to recognize him in this way,” Marr said.

“He loves agriculture, and he has given decades to its service. He leaves behind a legacy of excellent work, powered by employees that he mentored and taught. It would be impossible to ignore the enormous mark he leaves on Illinois agriculture and Illinois Corn.”

Mike Plumer Environmental Award

Richard “Dick” Lyons and Ivan Dozier were each presented with the Mike Plumer Environmental Award for their commitment to on-farm conservation.

Lyons, a former agriculture teacher at Lincoln Land Community College and Illinois State University, grows corn and soybeans in Montgomery County and worked with Plumer for more than 20 years.

companies his crop production with a two-year rotation of cereal rye and tillage radish, barley, rape and Austrian winter pea to serve as cover crops during the winter.Lyons ac

He strongly believes in utilizing soil health practices on his farm like cover crops and minimum tillage, as well as filter strips, two-stage ditch designs and streambank stabilization to manage his fertilizer.

Lyons’ commitment to conservation extends off the farm, as well. He currently serves as an associate director for the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District, is a member of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Working Policy Group, serves on the Illinois Association of Drainage Districts Board of Directors and is a member of the advisory committee of the Illinois State Water Survey, a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.

Locally, Lyons is a drainage commissioner in the two drainage districts where he farms and is a member of the Lake Lou Yaeger and Glenn Shoals Lake watershed committees in Montgomery County.

“Richard Lyons is a perfect example of why we give this award. He is doing everything right regarding conservation practices on his farm, and he’s willing to try something new and change or grow if he finds out there’s a practice that is better for his acres,” Marr said.

“He is committed to his land and water — which I hope all farmers are — and he puts that commitment into action not only by implementing conservation practices, but by stepping off the farm and leading other farmers by example.”

Dozier, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s state conservationist for Illinois, was honored for his commitment to helping farmers implement conservation practices and achieve Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy goals.

Dozier has served in this role since April 2012. He oversees U.S. Department of Agriculture programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program and Regional Conservation Partnership Program in Illinois.

“Illinois farmers are appreciative of Ivan Dozier’s work at NRCS,” Marr said. “NRCS programs are important to our environmental conservation efforts on the farm, and we would be much less successful without the partnership of federal and state programs that eliminate some of the risk of implementation.

“Ivan has been a valuable partner, listening to what can work on the farm and helping farmers increase conservation adoption in Illinois.”

Dozier received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the U of I and a master’s degree in environmental studies from U of I Springfield. He began his career with what was then the Soil Conservation Service and later became the NRCS in 1984.

Throughout his tenure, Dozier served as county soil scientist, soil conservationist, district conservationist, American Indian liaison and assistant state conservationist for programs.

Dozier has also been asked to serve in several positions to support agency needs in Washington, as an acting state conservationist in other states and as chair of many strategy teams, task force groups and other mission-critical leadership roles.

Ethanol Award

Sen. Tammy Duckworth co-sponsored the introduction of the Next Generation Fuels Act in the U.S. Senate in August of this year, a bill that will build ethanol demand and pave the way for corn-based ethanol to plan an important role in America’s clean energy future.

“Sen. Duckworth has always been an ardent supporter of biofuels, particularly corn-based ethanol. As a veteran, she is interested in policies that promote national security, and using domestically grown fuel instead of importing petroleum and fighting wars to maintain access to petroleum is important to her,” Marr said.

“We are so grateful for her leadership on this bill that will impact farmers for two to three generations once we get it passed.”

When fully implemented, the Next Generation Fuels Action stands to increase long-term annual ethanol usage by more than 5 billion gallons. That’s equal to over 1.8 billion bushels of new annual corn demand.

Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs who was among the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

She served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2014. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016 after representing the Illinois 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms.

Duckworth attended college at the University of Hawaii and earned a master’s degree in international affairs from the George Washington University.

Following graduation, Duckworth moved to Illinois and began pursuing a Ph.D. in political science at Northern Illinois University and later worked for Rotary International. To this day, she volunteers at local food pantries and participates in community service projects in her free time.

She and her husband, Bryan, are the proud parents of two daughters, Abigail and Maile.

Excellence In Media Award

David Brown, formerly of WAND-TV in Decatur, was honored for promoting Illinois agriculture and, specifically, Illinois corn and corn farmers, through his coverage in traditional media or through their engagement on social media.

“After 30 years reporting for WAND-TV and helping the public understand more about farming and agriculture, David is extremely deserving of this award,” Marr said.

“It is extremely gratifying to present this award not only to an excellent member of the ag media, but also to a farm boy who has retired to return to his first love — the farm.

“David Brown is one of our own, and we want to recognize the hard work and dedication to our industry that he has shown with his faithful and accurate reporting of central Illinois agriculture.”

Brown invested his 30 years in the ag communications industry reporting for WAND-TV on his own segment, Agribusiness Today.

The show reaches 32 counties in Illinois with high quality, local ag content that helps non-farmers in central Illinois understand more about the crops and livestock growing all around them.

During his tenure at WAND, David continued to farm with his brother and eventually with his son. Upon his retirement from broadcasting, David returned to the 150-year-old farm full time.

“I had the best of both worlds: I got to do what I love, and I got to talk about it on TV,” Brown said.

Tom Doran

Tom C. Doran

Field Editor