South Dakota Corn Growers present awards at annual meeting

The South Dakota Corn Growers Association recognized outstanding agricultural achievements during the organization’s 32nd annual meeting at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

The association presented its Most Valuable Player award to Dale Locken, recently retired CEO of the Wheat Growers cooperative; its Excellence in Agriculture award to Craig Schaunaman, former executive director of the Farm Service Agency’s South Dakota Office; and its Excellence in Public Outreach award to Sydney Kern, formerly of KDLT TV.

Most Valuable Player

As CEO of the Wheat Growers for the past 15 years, Dale Locken of Aberdeen directed tremendous growth of the cooperative. It became the nation’s largest grain-and-agronomy co-op that is owned strictly by farmers. He also led the cooperative through a recent merger with North Central Farmers Elevator, forming the new Agtegra Cooperative.

Locken spent close to 40 years in agribusiness management. He served in key leadership and management positions with major companies before returning to South Dakota to take over leadership of the Wheat Growers. In presenting the award, the Corn Growers commended him for his vision, his leadership and for keeping farmers’ best interest in mind when making decisions.

Excellence in Agriculture

Craig Schaunaman of Aberdeen served eight years as state executive director for the Farm Service Agency after being appointed by the Obama Administration in 2009. In that role, he successfully led the state FSA office through implementation of new programs contained in the 2014 farm bill.

Schaunaman helped farmers and ranchers tap into federal programs that provided assistance in dealing with flooding, drought, wildfires and a severe winter storm that killed herds of cattle. Prior to his FSA appointment, he served on many state and local boards, including five terms in the South Dakota House of Representatives. He has also farmed for 40 years.

Excellence in Public Outreach

This award recognizes an individual who goes the extra mile in spreading agriculture’s story with fairness, accuracy and due diligence. As a reporter for KDLT television, Sydney Kern didn’t have a background in agriculture but she took time to research and learn about it.

Whether she was reporting about a visit by a South Koean trade team, farmers helping Kenyan families grow food, trade agreements, or flooding and drought, she showed a true interest in the topic and did a thorough job of telling the story. Kern left KDLT in late 2017 to take a job with a TV station in Louisiana, the state where she attended college.

South Dakota Corn also honored two retiring directors of its boards for their service. Travis Mockler of Centerville served on the Corn Growers Association board since 2009 and was secretary/treasurer. Scott Sperry of Bath served two three-year terms on the Corn Utilization Council board. Both have completed their allowed number of terms.