Nebraska Corn Board Presents Awards of Recognition and Achievement

Acrylic-13394655761LINCOLN, NE—The Nebraska Corn Board presented its annual awards to six Nebraskans during its Cooperator and Awards Dinner in Lincoln recently.

The agricultural awards pay tribute to outstanding representatives of Nebraska’s grain elevator, livestock, and ethanol industries. Additional recognition goes to a member of the Nebraska media and to recognize overall achievement in agriculture.

The Ag Achievement Award annually honors those who have supported and expanded Nebraska agriculture over the long term. This year’s award was presented to two recipients: State Senator Tom Carlson of Holdrege and Rick Leonard, research analyst for the Agriculture Committee of the Nebraska Legislature.

Senator Carlson was instrumental in helping pass the legislation that allowed the corn checkoff rate in Nebraska to increase to a level that is better aligned with the current state of the corn industry and with the challenges and opportunities that exist for Nebraska corn farmers. Carlson has also been a leader in exploring ways to help commodity checkoff programs and other agriculture organizations in the state work more efficiently and cooperatively.

Leonard conducted the critical background work required to introduce legislation in support of the corn checkoff revision. He was also involved in the interim study that looked at changes in the structure of the Nebraska Corn Board and continues to be engaged in the legislative process in this regard.

The Elevator Industry Appreciation Award was presented to George Hohwieler, CEO of Aurora Cooperative, headquartered in Aurora, Nebraska. Hohwieler was recognized for his company’s commitment to agriculture and to the development of young people in agriculture. He was also supportive of partnering with Nebraska corn farmers for the Red Cross grain donation program. With this, he supported sending two of his board members with the Corn Board to Japan for relief efforts and a Nebraska corn-fed beef trade mission after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The Livestock Industry Appreciation Award was given to Willow Holoubek, organizational director for the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN). Holoubek has been a champion for animal agriculture in Nebraska, helping consumers appreciate the value of the livestock industry in the state—and supporting efforts to expand livestock production in Nebraska.

The Ethanol Industry Appreciation Award was presented to Seth Harder, plant manager at Husker Ag, LLC of Plainview, Nebraska. He was recognized for his leadership in working with retailers to install flex fuel pumps in northeast Nebraska and for his involvement and engagement in ethanol advocacy groups on both a statewide and national basis.

The Media Appreciation Award was presented to Robert Pore of the Grand Island (Neb.) Independent. Pore was recognized for his commitment and depth of understanding of agriculture and biofuels issues—and his ability to effectively communicate these stories with the general public.

The Nebraska Corn Board is responsible for investing the corn checkoff dollars contributed by Nebraska’s 23,000 corn farmers and managing programs focused on market development, research, education, and promotion.


Editor’s Note: Below is additional information about each of the award recipients. Pictures can be found on the “2013 Meetings and Awards” set.


Senator Tom Carlson
A native of Holdrege, Nebraska, Senator Carlson was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 2006 to serve Nebraska’s 38th legislative district and re-elected in 2010. He received his bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Northern Colorado and his doctorate from the University of Iowa.

He is a financial advisor currently, with a career path that has included positions as a college professor, football coach and baseball coach.

Senator Carlson is the 2nd vice chair of the Midwestern Legislative Conference and serves on the executive committee, economic development committee and the innovations selections committee of that body as well. He is a national committeeman for the Nebraska Federation of Young Republicans. He has also served on the Holdrege District 44 school board.

He and his wife Margo have three children and four grandchildren.

Rick Leonard
Rick Leonard is a twenty-five-year veteran of the Nebraska Legislature’s staff, beginning as a legislative aide to former state senator Lowell Johnson in 1988. Since February 1996, he has served as Research Analyst for the Agriculture Committee under the Chairmanships of Senator Merton “Cap” Dierks, Senator Bob Kremer, Senator Philip Erdman, Senator Tom Carlson and current chair, Senator Ken Schilz. Rick’s career in legislative government began as a member of the Washington, D.C. staff of former Congresswoman Virginia Smith from 1986 – 1988.

Rick received a B.A. in Political Science from Kearney State College in 1986, and has taken advanced coursework in paralegal studies and Community and Regional Planning at Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. During 1998 and 1999, Rick also provided research support as a graduate assistant for the Nebraska Groundwater Foundation through the UNL Water Center for the Foundation’s participation in the Water Sector Analysis Team of the first U.S. National Assessment of the Impacts of Global Climate Change completed in 1999. Excerpts of his work are included in the final report of the Water Sector Analysis Team and he is also co-author of an article on the topic of climate change published in the April, 2000 edition of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

Rick graduated from Wheatland High School in Perkins County in 1979. His parents, Dick and Betty Jo Leonard, at one time lived on and managed a farming/ranching operation near Elsie, Nebraska and later operated the grain elevator in Elsie.

George Hohwieler
George Hohwieler is the president and CEO of Aurora Cooperative in Aurora, Nebraska—a position he has held since 2002. A native of Chester, South Dakota, he received his bachelor of science degree in animal science from South Dakota State University and a masters of business administration from the University of Nebraska.

After graduating from South Dakota State, Hohwieler began an 18-year career with Sandoz/Novartis/Syngenta, working in seed production, corporate administration, and special projects.

Hohwieler has served on various civic, church and school committees and task forces. He and his wife, Nancy, have three sons.

Willow Holoubek
Willow Holoubek serves as the Executive Director for the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN). Through her work, Willow strives to continue to raise consumer awareness and trust in Nebraska farmers and ranchers and the food they grow. Her mission is to promote and support responsible livestock development and retention in Nebraska.

Born and raised in the Sandhills of western Nebraska, Willow has deep roots in agriculture. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in animal science from the University of Nebraska and is a graduate of the Nebraska Leadership Education/Action Development (LEAD) Program (Class XXVI). Willow and her family operate a grain and livestock farm near David City where they raise purebred Angus cattle, corn, soybeans and dairy quality alfalfa.

Robert Pore
Robert Pore is a general reporter with an emphasis on agriculture for the Grand Island (Nebr.) Independent, joining that newspaper in 2003. He was born in San Francisco and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He received his bachelors degree in English/Journalism from Northwest Missouri State University.

Prior to joining the staff at the Independent, he spent ten years with The Plainsman in Huron, SD. He has also worked for newspapers in Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Arkansas. Pore has been the recipient of numerous local, state and national press honors.

Seth Harder
Since 2006, Harder has been the general manager of Husker Ag, LLC, a 75-million-gallon ethanol plant in Plainview, Nebraska. Prior to becoming general manager, he served as production manager and plant manager. He also worked as a plant trainer and start-up technician for ICM of Colwich, Kansas.

Prior to joining Husker Ag, Harder was employed by Kuester Hay Company, building and operating a private two million gallon-per-year ethanol plant. He currently serves as president of the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers. He is executive director for Laurel BIO Composites, which manufactures biocomposite fillers from dried distillers grains; and is a board member for Wood Solutions, a sawmill/wood shaving company in Osmond.

He holds an associate degree in agriculture from Northeast Community College and a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Wayne State College. Harder also serves as a curriculum advisor for Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

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