BLOOMINGTON – Several involved in the ag industry were presented awards Thursday night during the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Awards Dinner.
Brian Carlson was named Outstanding Conservationist. He graduated from Illinois State in 1995 with a degree in ag production. Carlson and his wife have three sons and he is known for his work with conservation programs.
“Thanks to the Commerce and the Soil and Water Conservation District," Carlson said after receiving the honor.
The Emerging Leader in Agriculture award went to Dr. Justin Rickard who teaches a wide variety of courses in animal sciences at Illinois State. Rickard was raised on a cattle operation near Heyworth and joined the ISU faculty as a part-time instructor in 2011. He continues to assist with the family cattle operation and operates Rickard Meats.
“I appreciate this. Thank you very much,” Rickard said.
T.J. Weber received the Outstanding Young Farmer Award. He has been involved with the Lexington Jaycees and helps coach youth sports. According to his peers, Weber has great knowledge about agriculture. He has worked for Myers Inc. and is currently with Agrigold Hybrids.
“It’s an honor to stand in front of you tonight,” Weber stated.
This year’s McLean County Farmer of the Year is Paul Schuler of Lexington. During his introduction, Schuler was described as an outstanding business person and farmer who gives tremendous family support. Schuler and his wife Kelly have three children. The family has a corn, soybean and wheat operation.
“I truly don’t know what to say,” said Schuler. “It’s truly one of the best counties in the entire Midwest I believe.”
Schuler also said it has been a privilege to serve on the McLean County Farm Bureau board.
Dr. Greg Bane was named Outstanding Person in Agribusiness. Bane comes from a distinguished family of farmers and business people in eastern McLean County. He LeRoy High School and University of Illinois graduate has always been involved with local efforts.
“I don’t know whether it’s deserved or not, but it’s quite an honor,” Bane admitted after receiving the award. “All of you here in this room are responsible for making McLean County what it is.”
Lifelong McLean County farmer John Olson received the Outstanding Service to Agriculture award. Olson, who farms in the McLean area, is passionate about ag education by constantly explaining to people where their food comes from. He spent countless hours on ag educational displays and served for several years as a McLean County Farm Bureau director.
“I want to express my thanks to the chamber for honoring me with this award.”
Olson said it was a blessing to grow up on a family farm in McLean County.
Thursday’s ag award dinner was presented by the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Council and sponsored by DuPont Pioneer. The next chamber ag event will be the Agriculture Awareness Breakfast March 23 at the DoubleTree by Hilton, presented by GROWMARK.