May 21, 2024

ISA achievement award winners announced

The Illinois Soybean Association’s Chairman’s Award was presented to Bob Easter (left). Ron Kindred, ISA chairman, presented the honor to Easter.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Illinois agriculture industry would not be where it is today without the hard work, time and efforts put forth by passionate leaders.

In appreciation of these leaders’ efforts, the Illinois Soybean Association created its annual Achievement Awards to recognize those individuals who make the Illinois agriculture industry stronger.

The five winners of the second annual ISA Achievement Awards were honored for their contributions to the industry on Nov. 28 at the ISA Impact Awards Banquet in Bloomington.

The program featured Jackie Applegate, president of Bayer Crop Sciences, as the keynote speaker; and Kristi Jones, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, as the emcee.

Representatives from numerous allied industry organizations and corporate partners also were in attendance to celebrate the achievements of the award winners.

“ISA is proud to honor these hardworking individuals who are leading our industry into a better future through their leadership, excellence, commitment and service,” said John Lumpe, ISA CEO. “We thank them for all of their contributions that benefit farmers and the Illinois agriculture industry as a whole.”

The award winners for 2023 were:

Chairman’s Award

The ISA Chairman’s Award was presented to Bob Easter. The award recognizes an individual who has gone above and beyond to serve the state’s soybean interest. It is the highest award given by ISA and is presented in appreciation of one’s dedication, leadership and years of service to the soybean industry.

Easter served as the 19th president of the University of Illinois from 2012 to 2015. Prior to that, he held a number of leadership roles at the U of I in Urbana-Champaign, including head of the Animal Sciences Department and dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. He also served as interim provost and interim chancellor for the university.

“Bob has dedicated his life to developing a positive future for the agriculture industry,” said Ron Kindred, ISA chairman. “From his research on soybeans for swine feed to his efforts in helping build a market for Illinois soybeans in China, his dedication to the soybean industry has had a profound impact on farmers across the state of Illinois.”

Farm Family Of Year

ISA’s Farm Family of the Year Award recipients were Leanne Casner and her father, Matthew Clavin. The honor 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.

Casner and Clavin help run their family’s Clavin Dairy Farm near Rosamond. This father-daughter duo also welcomes visitors wanting to learn more about dairy farming, hosting several tours of their dairy farm per year for educational purposes.

In addition to the farm tours, Casner also started a Facebook page called “Daily Dose of Dairy,” where she addresses consumers’ concerns about antibiotic and hormone use, animal care, nutrition and more.

“Both Leanne and Matthew are passionate about educating others about agriculture and go out of their way to share facts about life on a dairy farm and why they milk cows,” Lumpe said. “Their efforts have had a profound impact on their community and the Illinois agriculture industry.”

Friend Of Soybean Farmers

The Friend of Illinois Soybean Farmers Award was presented to Gary Schnitkey. The 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.

Schnitkey is a Soybean Industry Endowed Professor in Agricultural Strategy and a Gardner Agriculture Policy Fellow at the U of I.

His research informs farmers of the most profitable management practices and encourages long-term changes to impact yield. His work also aims to educate farmers across the state of Illinois on what rotation practices are most suitable for their areas.

“Dr. Schnitkey analyzes the profitability of major field crops, including soybeans,” Lumpe said. “His research makes a difference to Illinois soybean farmers as it informs and encourages them to make long-term changes to boost both yield and profitability.”

Legislator Of Year

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

Bost represents 34 counties of Illinois’ 12th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Bost also serves as the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Bost is a lifelong resident of Murphysboro and is a former firefighter for the Murphysboro Fire Department. He is also a graduate of the U of I’s Certified Firefighter II Academy.

“Rep. Bost actively advocates for policies that address issues Illinois soybean farmers are facing,” Lumpe said. “Through his work on the House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs, Transportation and Infrastructure and Agriculture, Bost is truly making a difference for Illinois agriculture.”

Excellence In Media

Holly Spangler was presented with ISA’s Excellence in Media Award. The honor recognizes a member of the media who promotes Illinois soybeans and Illinois agriculture through their coverage in print, broadcast, social and beyond.

Spangler is the senior editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and an executive editor for Farm Progress. She is a past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association and currently serves on the Illinois 4-H Foundation Board and the Illinois Council for Agricultural Education and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth.

“Holly’s dedication to the Illinois agriculture industry makes her an excellent recipient for this award,” Lumpe said. “Her writing is not only award-winning, but also can be relied upon for providing the latest industry news and updates. She has quite a knack for sharing relevant information in a way that is relatable to farmers.”