NCB Presents Awards of Recognition and Achievement

Left to right:  Mark Jagels, Mike LaPorte, Dawn Caldwell, Bill Pullen, Duane Kristensen

Left to right: Mark Jagels, Mike LaPorte, Dawn Caldwell, Bill Pullen, Duane Kristensen

LINCOLN, NE—The Nebraska Corn Board presented its annual awards to five exceptional individuals during its Cooperator and Awards Dinner in Lincoln this week.

For twenty-four years, the Nebraska Corn Board has acknowledged incomparable representatives in the livestock and ethanol industries, as well as awarding an individual in the media. The Ag Achievement award is the pinnacle of awards given to an individual who has helped develop Nebraska’s corn industry and agriculture over time. Additionally, the Nebraska Corn Board presented a new award this year in the agribusiness category.

The Livestock Industry Appreciation Award was given to Joan Ruskamp, farmer, blogger, community leader, and CommonGround volunteer from Dodge, Nebraska. Ruskamp was selected for this award based upon her outstanding commitment to Nebraska agriculture and continued enthusiasm to share her story with her urban counter-parts.

“I know that volunteering for CommonGround is a big commitment and we really appreciate her willingness to do this and do it so well,” said Debbie Borg, farmer from Allen, Nebraska and director on the Nebraska Corn Board. “Joan has the wonderful ability to share her story with consumers and help them not only understand, but appreciate the value of the livestock industry in Nebraska. She was very deserving of this award.”

The Ethanol Industry Appreciation Award recognizes a producer or person in the industry who has worked hard to develop ethanol markets and expand demand for ethanol in the state while appreciating the value of the corn checkoff and its involvement in ethanol market development. The recipient of this year’s award was Duane Kristensen, with Chief Ethanol Fuels, Inc. Kristensen was selected for his leadership in Nebraska as well as his involvement and engagement in ethanol advocacy groups on a statewide, national, and global basis.

“Duane’s dedication to the ethanol industry and continued efforts to expand the demand of ethanol globally has been influential for the industry,” said Dennis Gengenbach, farmer from Smithfield, Nebraska and secretary-treasurer on the Nebraska Corn Board. “Duane’s leadership has been powerful around the world. He’s traveled to over twenty countries promoting Nebraska and the role of ethanol in agriculture.”

The Media Appreciation Award was presented to Mike LaPorte, with KRVN Rural Radio, for his efforts in routinely sharing agriculture’s story and his knowledge and understanding of agriculture’s important role to our state’s economy. LaPorte has been with KRVN for 25 years and has been a Farm Director for the last 19 years.

“Mike’s background in agriculture gives him a unique perspective on his reporting and has helped him develop a great format for telling our story,” said David Merrell, farmer from St. Edward, Nebraska and vice chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “He is one of the first media sources that the Nebraska Corn Board reaches out to. We know that Mike will truthfully and openly reveal the facts of not only the corn industry, but all of Nebraska’s agriculture.”

The recipient of this year’s Ag Achievement award was Mark Jagels, farmer from Davenport, Nebraska and past chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and U.S. Meat Export Federation. Jagels was chosen for his outstanding dedication to agriculture and admirable goals in expanding exports and moving the state forward in its agricultural ambitions.

“Mark’s leadership and commitment to Nebraska agriculture is evident through his service on a local, state, national, and international level,” said Alan Tiemann, farmer from Seward, Nebraska and past chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “He has played an instrumental role in representing agriculture on the international level by helping expand the opportunities for both corn and livestock.

As the newest award category, the Agribusiness Appreciation Award, identifies a Nebraska agribusiness that recognizes and appreciates the mission of the Nebraska corn checkoff program, shows proven leadership in explaining the benefits of the checkoff and its investments and supports Nebraska agriculture. The recipient of this inaugural award went to Bill’s Volume Sales. Accepting the award on behalf of Bill’s Volume Sales was Bill Pullen, founder and former owner.

“Bill’s Volume Sales is a highly respected company in the agriculture industry and a long-time supporter of the Nebraska corn checkoff,” said Jon Holzfaster, farmer from Paxton, Nebraska and director on the Nebraska Corn Board. “Bill’s Volume has gone above and beyond to help their customers and keep our Nebraska corn farmers in business. We appreciate the company’s continued support and dedication to Nebraska agriculture.”

The Nebraska Corn Board is a self-help program, funded and managed by Nebraska corn farmers. Producers invest in the program at a rate of 1/2 of a cent per bushel of corn sold. Nebraska corn checkoff funds are invested in programs of market development, research and education.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is additional information about each of the award recipients.
Pictures are also available. (Click here to be directed to our Flickr page).


Joan Ruskamp
Joan and her husband, Steve, have a farm and feed cattle near Dodge, Nebraska. Joan received an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. Steve and Joan are the parents to five children; in addition, they have two sons-in-law and two grandchildren. Some of Joan’s duties include cattle doctoring, cattle processing, pen rider and bookkeeper. Joan also serves the community as a 4-H leader and an EMT and is active in parish and other community organizations. Joan is a member of Nebraska Cattlemen, NCBA, NCA, ANCW and Farm Bureau. She currently serves on the Cattleman’s Beef Board and was recently elected to the CBB Operating Committee. Joan is alumni of the Nebraska LEAD program (28) and is a six-year member of the Ag-Ceptional Women’s Conference Committee. Additionally, Joan just completed her fourth year as an avid volunteer for CommonGround, an advocacy group for agriculture.
Her blog, “Dust in My Coffee”, details the real story of beef. She writes from the perspective of someone who actually gets their hands dirty, yet can relate with her urban counter parts. An important message she shares is that she feeds her family the same food that she raises for other families, and helps her readers understand where their food comes from.

Duane Kristensen
Duane is the Vice President of Operations/General Manager for Chief Ethanol Fuels, Inc., a 72 million gallon facility located in Hastings, Nebraska. Duane has been involved in ethanol production since 1986. He has extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the many facets of the ethanol industry.

Duane and his family live on a family owned and operated diversified crop and livestock farm in Minden, Nebraska. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a B.S. in Agriculture Economics. He has maintained close ties with the University, including serving a term as president of CASNR Alumni and is currently serving as the Chair for the Chancellor’s Alumni Advisory Council.

He is also actively involved in many other aspects of agriculture and serves on numerous advisory boards, including the following: current Vice President for the American Coalition for Ethanol, past president of the Hastings Economic Development Corporation, and one of the founding members and initial President for the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers. He was recently appointed to the newly established Ethanol “A” team of the U S Grains Council. Duane has had the opportunity to speak in over twenty countries across the world promoting Nebraska and the role of ethanol in agriculture.

Mike LaPorte
Mike has been at KRVN and the Rural Radio Network for 25 years. He has been the Farm Director for the last 19 years, and, if you count the 9 years he spent in Iowa in farm broadcasting before coming to Nebraska, he has been a farm broadcaster for 34 years!
Prior to becoming a farm broadcaster, Mike farmed in Iowa with his family for a decade. This background gives him a unique perspective on his reporting and has helped him develop a great format for telling our story. Simply put, Mike “gets it”. He has a great knowledge of the state and national economy, and agriculture’s role in that.
Helping to add to that perspective, Mike has had the opportunity to travel extensively as part of several trade missions. Some of the countries he has visited include Vietnam, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Mexico, Panama, Brazil and Cuba.
KRVN has had the best “book” for listenership in the country for all of the past 25 years. Which means KRVN has a higher percentage of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers tuned in than any other station in America. Mike was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Ag Achievement in 2007 and is the former chairman of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council.
He is the recipient of the VIP award from the Nebraska FFA. He also has received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Soybean Association. For the last four years Mike has done a daily live Skype report for NTV. So I guess we can call him a radio and television personality.

Mark Jagels
Born and raised in Davenport, Nebraska, Mark has deep roots in agriculture. He is a fourth generation farmer, farming with his father, Elliott and son, Jason. He lives on the home place in Davenport, which was originally homesteaded in 1885. He is a diversified producer who raises irrigated yellow and white corn and soybeans, has a cow/calf operation, feeds cattle at a custom feedlot, and operates a trucking company. Mark earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Economics from the University of Nebraska and is a graduate of the Nebraska LEAD Program (Class 11).
Mark is the past-chairman of the U.S. Meat Export Federation and a past-chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. He has also been actively involved with the U.S. Grains Council, National Corn Growers Association, and has lobbied representatives in Washington D.C. for the Nebraska Corn Board, National Corn Growers Association, and Nebraska Cattlemen. He has played a key role representing agriculture on the international level by hosting trade teams and traveling to Japan, South Korea, South America, European Union, Poland, and Hungary representing the USMEF and the Nebraska Corn Board. When Mark isn’t busy representing agriculture on the state, national, and international levels, he can be found serving in his local community in a variety of leadership positions.
In 2007 he received the Outstanding Nebraska LEAD Alumni award. Mark has also received the Outstanding Service to Agriculture Award from the Nebraska Agribusiness Club. On the state level, Mark is an Agriculture Builders of Nebraska member, Nebraska Cattlemen member, and has participated in the Nebraska Governor’s Trade Mission to Cuba.
Mark and his wife, Suzanne, have three sons. Derek is employed as a merchandiser for AGP and is married to Klaire, Brett, his wife Kristin and granddaughter, Sawyer, live in Austin, Texas where Brett teaches third grade at St. Paul’s Lutheran School, and Jason, a recent graduate of UNL and newest addition to the Jagels family farm, becoming the fifth generation.

Bill’s Volume Sales
Bill’s Volume Sales, Inc. was started in Robert Pullen’s feedlot in 1963, by William J. Pullen. From a single feedlot, the business has grown to locations in Central City, Nebraska; Lexington, Nebraska; and Pierce, Colorado. The employees of Bill’s Volume Sales, Inc. offer a combined mixer and electronic scales experience of over 200 years.
Bill’s Volume Sales, Inc., offers complete sales and service for ROTO-MIX® feed mixers, which includes horizontal, rotary, and vertical mixers, from 270 to 1505 cubic feet. In addition to ROTO-MIX®, Bill’s Volume Sales, Inc. offers service for all major brands of feed mixers and, in fact, has over 2 million dollars in parts inventory for mixers.
Bill’s Volume Sales, Inc. has its own in-house electronic scale repair shops and offers sales and service on all major brands. The company also offers one of the largest inventories of rebuilt mixers in the world.
In June 2013, Bill sold his interest in the company to Snuffy Boyles from Hereford, Texas. Customers have enjoyed a smooth transition with the same sales and service experience as before, as Mr. Boyles owned the second largest ROTO-MIX® dealership in America.

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