COAFES recognizes Minnesotans for achievements in agriculture

by Sam Boeser

Three Minnesotans received the Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture on Monday during a ceremony at the McNamara alumni center.

The College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences recognized David Johnson, Noreen Jo Thomas and C. Jerry Nelson with the award for their contributions to the production of food and the alleviation of world hunger. Each received a sculpture and $50,000.

Johnson received the award for lifelong advancements in agribusiness, according to a press release the college sent.

The 1959 University graduate played a key role in the merging of agricultural companies Cenex and Land O’ Lakes, and worked as chief executive officer of the company until his retirement in 1998, the release said. He is still active in stimulating domestic and international agribusiness growth.

“The most important people in the world are the ones who feed the world,” Johnson said at the event.

Nelson accepted his award for contributing to the understanding of plant growth and development factors, the press release said. The southern Minnesota native is a University graduate and said he will donate part of his prize to the agriculture college because the University provided him with so much.

He said he was humbled to receive the award.

The college presented Thomas the Siehl Prize for her efforts in agricultural production. A resident of Moorhead, Minn., she is a certified organic producer on her 1,200-acre farm, where she uses new technology to enhance sustainable foods, the press release said. Thomas regularly participates in studies with the University.

In addition to the three recipients, the Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture awards $1,000 scholarships to eight Minnesota high school students who enroll in the college, according to the press release. The high school students attended the event.

Eldon R. Siehl created the award “to honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to agriculture and the alleviation of world hunger,” the release said.

This is the fifth trio of winners to receive the award.