The Soy Ambassador Leadership Program, sponsored by the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs, gives participants opportunities to gain leadership experience, industry exporsure anda global perspective. Ambassadors will develop skills and qualities that are crucial for future leadership roles in the soybean and agriculture industry.
Applications for 2018-2019
We are not accepting applications at this time, but we encourage you to keep the program in mind for the next class. We will open the online application process for the 2018-2019 class on June 1, 2018. Additional information, including eligibility requirements, is available here.
Soy Ambassador Program Details
Our 2017-2018 Soy Ambassadors:
- Zach Bailey: Zach farms in Louisville, Ill., with his brother and father. He grew all soybeans this season and will plant wheat in the fall. He is a member of the Illinois Farm Bureau and Clay County Farm Bureau Young Leaders program.
- Maria Cox: Maria farms with her parents near White Hall, Ill. She raises corn, soybeans, hay, cow-calf pairs and feedlot cattle. She has a B.S. in agricultural business from the University of Illinois and an M.S. in ag economics from Purdue University. She has worked as a grain buyer for ADM and spent five years working for Diversified Crop Insurance Services. She is a blogger and contributor for Farm Futures magazine, Greene County Farm Bureau board director and past participant in the Prairie Farmer Cultivating Master Farmers program.
- Luke Crawford: Luke is a fifth generation farmer in west central Illinois, living in Arenzville. Ill. He farms a 50/50 corn and soybean rotation with his father. They also raise 5,000 hogs annually. He is a past participant of the United Soybean Board’s See for Yourself tour to Central America and also is in the Cultivating Master Farmers Class of 2017.
- Scott Gaffner: Scott grows corn, soybeans and poultry in Greenville, Ill., as well as helps on his family’s farm. He has worked in law enforcement for 27 years while farming. Outside of farming, Scott spent eight years as a local school board member as both president and vice-president.
- Kent Lock: Kent raises corn, soybeans, pasture/forage and cattle in Avon, Ill. He also does rail car load adjustments and transloading in the region. He is a past board member for the Illinois Beef Association and has worked for ADM for eight years as a soybean merchandiser, meal and soy hull pellet merchandiser.
- Dave Murphy: Dave lives in Dunlap, Ill. and farms corn and soybeans in Peoria, Marshall, and Bureau counties. He also manages farms with his wife. He has had 5 years of experience as a District Sales Manager in the seed industry working with farmers and teaching agronomy. Dave has a B.S. in ag economics, farm management and crop science from the University of Illinois. He is also a member of the Illinois Farm Bureau.
- Matt Pence: Matt lives outside Milford, Illinois with his wife Jessica. He farms corn, soybeans, wheat and is a dealer for Beck’s Hybrids. He attended the University of Illinois and received a BS in Technical Systems Management with a minor in Crop and Soil Management. While in college, Matt worked for CaseIH in New Holland, PA. He has participated in the Carle Progressive Ag Safety Days instructing on tractor and PTO safety for the past four years and is an assistant varsity basketball coach at Watseka Community High School.
- Andrew Roselius: Andrew resides in Onarga, Ill., where he farms soybeans and raises show pigs. He also raises non-GMO soy for seed and export. Andrew has been a lieutenant for the Crescent-Iroquois volunteer fire department for 10 years. He is active in his church and the FFA alumni association.
- Court White: Court lives in Jacksonville, Ill. and farms near Palmyra, Ill., with his father-in-law. His operation also includes Angus cattle. He is a certified crop adviser and has worked in ag retail for four years with an emphasis in soybean production, seed treatment, seed sales and fertility programs. He also is chair of the Cass-Morgan Farm Bureau Young Leaders.
Soy Ambassadors Travel to Mexico and Guatemala in 2015
In March 2015, the Soy Ambassadors visited Mexico and Guatemala to learn how U.S. soybeans are used in human diets and market development. While there, the group did the following:
- Observed long-term ISA involvement in the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) pork promotion campaigns in Mexico City by:
- touring a deboning plant
- visiting several open air markets
- watching a live tv spot on two stations that promote U.S. pork.
- Leared how long-term market development is created in Guatemala with the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) by:
- visiting two different processing plants that use soy flour
- going to a school that created and sold soy milk to fund student tuition.
Soy Ambassadors Travel to Asia in 2012
In February 2012, the Soy Ambassadors visited soybean buyers in both Japan and Taiwan. While in Japan the group did the following:
- Visited with US Grains Council and ASA Japan staff to understand the soybean market in Japan
- Visited a soybean processing facility outside Tokyo
While in Taiwan, the group continued efforts as they :
- Attended meetings with soybean container buyers in Taiwan
- Toured a new port in Taiwan
- Attended meetings at the American interests office while in Taiwan.
- Attended meetings at the ASA office in Taiwan where the US Grains Council was present
- Met up with Mike Levin, Ron Moore, Ron Kinard and Scott Signman
Soy Ambassadors Travel to Central America in 2011
We traveled to Central America on February 21, 2011, joining representatives from the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) and National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL). During this trip, we visited Guatemala and Nicaragua and did the following:
- Attended the Cargill/World Soy Foundation Corporate Responsibility Conference.
- Met with officials involved with nutrition programs in Central America.
- Visited WISHH and NSRL project sites in Guatemala City.
- Ate a soy foods lunch and experienced how well soy fits into the local cuisine.
- Tasted soy cookies and were treated to songs by the girls at Fundaninas, a local orphanage.
- Toured ag experimental plots and a coffee co-op in Nicaragua.
- Had dinner at the home of Kevin Marinacci, executive director for the Fabretto Children's Foundation.