Bloomington, Ill. – August 31, 2022 – The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) is proud to announce the inaugural ISA Achievement Award Recipients.
In May 2022, ISA began accepting nominations for five award categories including the Chairman’s Award, Excellence in Media Award, Farm Family of the Year, Friend of an Illinois Soybean Farmer, and Legislator of the Year. Illinois Soybean Association board directors reviewed the submissions and the award winners are as follows:
The ISA Chairman’s Award recognizes an individual who has gone above and beyond to serve the state’s soybean interests. It is the highest award given by the Association, and is presented in appreciation of one’s dedication, leadership, and years of service to the soybean industry.
The recipient of this year’s Chairman’s award is Ken Dalenberg.
Dalenberg grew up in southern Illinois on a dairy farm and, after attending University of Illinois University of Chicago (UIUC) and obtaining his Bachelor of Science in 1971, he established himself in Piatt/Champaign County and worked his way into farm ownership all the while serving as a member and leader to Farm Bureau, the corn and soybean associations, advisory boards to the University of Illinois, congressional ag committees, and many other industry supporting groups.
Dalenberg has been an early innovator in precision ag. He spent time away from the farm in almost every year of the 80’s and 90’s promoting agriculture and soy most specifically in Brazil, China, Taiwan, Japan, Argentina, and Europe. On the local level he is a township board supervisor, has sat on local committees for drainage, land use and other areas of concern. He farms in Mansfield with his wife Barbara and a diverse group spanning from youthful college aged kids.
“Ken has dedicated many years of his business and personal life to the advancement of soy,” says his son, Darren Dalenberg. “He can be found working late nights at his desk or from the cab of whatever equipment he is running by day, talking with legislators, media, professors, industry officials and other ag professionals about current and potential future opportunities for U.S. soy.”
The ISA Excellence in Media Award recognizes a member of the media who promotes Illinois soybeans and Illinois agriculture through their coverage in print, broadcast, social and beyond.
The recipient of the Excellence in Media Award is Stu Ellis.
Ellis has been a well-known agricultural communicator in Illinois for 50 years. Beginning as the farm broadcaster at WSOY in Decatur, he expanded his service to Cornbelt farmers through radio, television, newspapers, newsletters, and the Internet. He joined WCIA 3 in Champaign, providing morning agricultural programming to viewers of WCIA 3 and WCIX 49 in Springfield.
Ellis was raised on a Christian County farm near Taylorville, and received his Bachelor of Science and his Master of Science degrees from the University of Illinois in Communications. Ellis has expanded his service to agriculture through video reports on a wide range of issues from various locations.
“Stu’s lifetime devotion to all-things agriculture makes him an excellent candidate for this award,” says ISA Chairman Steve Pitstick. “I always look for his newsletter that is packed full of a variety of weekly information. He has an incredible ability to share information that is relevant and readable for everyone.”
ISA’s Farm Family of the Year Award 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.
The recipient of the Farm Family of the Year Award is the Hulsizer Family.
Liz Hulsizer and her husband, Matt Hulsizer, are members of the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG). Most notably, Liz and Matt were very involved in promoting mental health awareness this past May including podcasts, webinars, and spoke in front of groups including the Illinois Farm bureau young leaders’ group which had up to 500 individuals.
The couple was also heavily engaged in the promotion of ISA’s young farmer “20 Under 40” Program with Matt ultimately being named as a finalist. At home in their community, Matt and Liz are well respected for their many contributions to the Knox County area, including their involvement in local commodity and nonprofit organizations, and their church.
“The Hulsizers have been some of our best advocates for ISA this year,” says ISA Director of Communications, Rachel Peabody. “Not only were they selected as Illinois participants for the 2022 ASA Corteva Young Leader Class, but they are engaged with ISA on multiple other fronts and participate in our programming. They are top-notch, young ISG members who answer the call when ISA needs them, and they tell our story well.”
The Friend of Illinois Soybean Farmers 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.
The recipient of the ISA Friend of an Illinois Soybean Farmers Award is Dr. Emerson Nafziger.
Dr. Nafziger grew up on a farm in northwestern Ohio and earned degrees in agronomy from Ohio State University, Purdue University, and the University of Illinois. He served beginning in 1982 as professor and Extension Agronomist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and remains active after retiring in 2017. Nafziger is best known for his work in crop and soil management, including plant populations, planting timing, rotations, tillage and nitrogen management practices.
“Emerson is always working with farmers through the extension program at the University of Illinois,” says ISA board member David Wessel. “He is great at providing valuable, relevant, and timely information. This is someone ISA should recognize because he truly has farmers’ backs like a good neighbor would.”
The ISA Legislator of the Year Award recognizes Illinois lawmakers who are actively making a difference for soybean farmers by advocating for policy and regulatory issues important to our industry. The award is presented in recognition of a proven track record of support and for championing farm policy.
The recipients of the Legislator of the Year Award are Representative Cheri Bustos and Representative Rodney Davis.
The granddaughter of a hog farmer and a native of downstate Illinois, Rep. Bustos has served the constituents of Illinois’ 17th Congressional district for the last decade. Throughout her five terms in office, she has been a tireless advocate for family farmers on the House Agriculture Committee where she currently chairs the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.
From working to pass two Farm Bills and promoting the use of biofuels, to helping advance trade certainty through the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and securing $874.1 million to modernize our locks and dams, Rep. Bustos has remained focused on ensuring that American farmers can feed, fuel, and clothe our country for generations to come – and that rural communities have the tools they need to survive and thrive.
“Rep. Bustos has been a tireless and regular advocate for her district and agricultural issues for Illinois,” says Director of Government Relations & Strategy, Andrew Larson. “Over her ten-year career in Congress she has been a champion for trade with Cuba, ethanol, biodiesel, and promoting farm life. She has made it a priority to develop relationships with ag groups and the farmers who have been advocates for issues relevant to her district.”
Rep. Davis is currently serving his fifth term in Congress representing the 13th District of Illinois, which covers a 14-county region that includes both urban and rural communities in central and southwestern Illinois. Rep. Davis serves on the Committee on House Administration, where he is the Ranking Member, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, and the House Committee on Agriculture.
Prior to being elected to the U.S. House in 2012, Rep. Davis served as Projects Director for Congressman John Shimkus for 16 years. In 2020, Rep. Davis was ranked the 13th most bipartisan member of the House of Representatives out of 435 members by the Lugar Center, which is the gold standard in measuring bipartisanship in Washington.
“I have known Rep. Davis for well over 20 years in many different capacities,” says Hooker. “He is well-suited for this honor because of his delicate focus on working with both sides of the aisle as well as having a stellar voting record on all things related to agriculture.”
ISA would like to congratulate all award recipients and looks forward to recognizing them at a banquet later this year.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development and utilization efforts while the membership program supports the government relations interests of Illinois soybean farmers at the local, state, and national level, through the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG). ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean producers through promotion, advocacy, and education with the vision of becoming a market leader in sustainable soybean production and profitability. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org and www.ilsoygrowers.com.