U alum, Pioneer chairman receives achievement award

Thirty years at the same company might cause some to become burned out, but recent Outstanding Achievement Award recipient Dean Oestreich couldnâÄôt disagree more. Oestreich has been working for one company, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, since his graduation from the University in 1974. The Outstanding Achievement Award is presented to alumni who have âÄúattained unusual distinction in their chosen fields or profession,âÄù according to the University Awards and Honors website. Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer focuses primarily on the supply and development of plant genomics , an industry word for âÄúplant breeding,âÄù Vern Cardwell , professor of agronomy and plant genetics, said. The company studies the chemical makeup of corn, soybean, sunflower, wheat and sorghum seeds to determine what is the most efficient, economical and effective mix of chemicals for a productâÄôs specific use. Oestreich said the work is very research-intensive. âÄúBut in agriculture it really makes a difference,âÄù he said. Pioneer offers more than 250 specific âÄúhybrids,âÄù or breeds of corn, 170 of which are used to yield fuel-grade ethanol. Cardwell, who nominated Oestreich for the award, said Oestreich developed 15 of the hybrids himself. âÄúTo put it into figures, Oestreich has had a hand in producing more than one million units of seed, each individual unit being planted over two and a half acres,âÄù Cardwell said. Oestreich said that being able to develop and sell improved types of seeds to farmers is one thing he is particularly proud of. âÄúWeâÄôve been able to improve crops globally,âÄù he said. Traveling abroad for more than 12 years with Pioneer, Oestreich has helped the company maintain foreign relations in more than 70 countries. Throughout his years, he has held positions as vice president for the Africa, Middle East, Asia and Pacific business, and vice president of Global Production Operations. Oestreich stood out to the selection committee, Mary Buschette , director of Alumni Relations in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences, said. She said he is a successful and intelligent businessman who deeply cares about the people he works with and puts customers above everything else. Cardwell was also OestreichâÄôs crop ecology and crop growth development teacher at the University nearly 30 years ago. He said Oestreich was never someone who cared only about making money. âÄúHe never burned a bridge on his way up and is a very humble individual,âÄù Cardwell said. Several of OestreichâÄôs former classmates were in attendance at his award acceptance on Thursday. His name can be seen on the Alumni Wall of Honor in recognition of his achievements.