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Nebraska Corn Board recognized ag achievement at 2017 awards dinner

2017 NCB Awards

2017 Nebraska Corn Board Ag Achievement Awards – March 16, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. – One agribusiness and four individuals were recently recognized at the Nebraska Corn Board’s annual awards dinner held March 16 in Lincoln. The annual awards highlight outstanding contributions in the livestock, ethanol and agribusiness sectors, as well as an exceptional ag media source. The dinner was capped off with the presentation of the Board’s most prestigious award, the Ag Achievement award.

The Nebraska Corn Board’s Ag Achievement award was first presented in 1991. The purpose of this award is to recognize an individual or business whose work has significantly benefited the corn industry. This year’s recipient was Steve Waller, dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Waller, a native of Indiana, came to UNL in 1978 and served as a faculty member in the Department of Agronomy. He began his transition into UNL administration in 1989 through a joint position as assistant dean of the Agricultural Research Division and associate dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. After Waller served as interim dean of the College for nearly two years, he was named dean in June 2002.

“Dean Waller has touched the lives of many students, faculty, staff and industry partners as he worked to promote and encourage growth of the ag industry,” said Dave Merrell, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “His passion for agriculture and natural resources is obvious. UNL’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources continues to grow, and highly-qualified graduates are entering the industry.”

The Livestock Industry Appreciation award is given out to those whose work has enhanced the corn and livestock industry. This year’s award was presented to Galen Erickson, UNL professor of animal science and Nebraska Extension beef feedlot nutrition specialist.

“The research Galen has done to increase our understanding and utilization of distillers grains has been tremendously valuable to Nebraska’s corn and livestock industries,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Distillers grains research is one factor that helped boost Nebraska to the No. 1 cattle on feed state.”

The Nebraska Corn Board’s Media Appreciation award acknowledges a member of the media that helps tell the story of Nebraska corn and the state’s agriculture. Dave Thorell, member of the Nebraska Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame, was this year’s recipient. Thorell worked with KRVN radio until his retirement in September 2016.

“Since 1969, Dave has been a trusted source of news, entertainment and information for farmers and ranchers across Nebraska and beyond,” said Debbie Borg, member of the Nebraska Corn Board. “His voice was heard across the state, and even in retirement, he continues to be a strong advocate for the ag industry.”

Robert White, vice president of industry relations with the Renewable Fuels Association, received the Ethanol Industry Appreciation award. This award is presented to individuals or industry partners who go above and beyond to help develop ethanol markets and expand demand for ethanol.

“Mr. White leads the effort to increase the availability and consumption of ethanol through consumer education, social media and marketing,” said Dennis Gengenbach, secretary and treasurer with the Nebraska Corn Board. “He is a well-sought out technical expert for the industry on ethanol, E15, E85 and blender pumps.”

The Nebraska Agribusiness Appreciation award is designed to recognize an agribusiness in the state that understands and appreciates the mission of the state’s corn checkoff program and supports Nebraska agriculture. Reinke Manufacturing, Inc. was this year’s honoree.

“Through their contributions and partnerships with Raising Nebraska, Reinke Manufacturing has done an exceptional job teaching consumers and youth about modern agriculture,” said Brunkhorst. Raising Nebraska is a collaborative effort between public and private partners focused in agricultural literacy education and is located on the Nebraska state fairgrounds in Grand Island.

Each award winner was identified and selected by the Nebraska Corn Board.

Photos of the 2017 award recipients are available online by clicking here.


The Nebraska Corn Board is made up of nine farmer directors who serve three-year terms. Eight members represent specific Nebraska districts and are appointed by the Governor of Nebraska. The Board elects a ninth “at large” member.

The Nebraska Corn Board is a state funded agency funded through a ½-cent-per-bushel checkoff on all corn marketed in the state.

Nebraska corn checkoff funds are invested in programs of market development, research, promotion and education.

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