10 honored with Purdue Ag Alumni Certificate of Distinction

February 10, 2010

The Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association honored 10 agricultural leaders with its Certificate of Distinction during the Ag Alumni Fish Fry on Feb. 6. The award recognizes those who make significant contributions that enhance the agricultural profession. Award recipients included (clockwise from upper left) Nola J. Gentry, Frank M. Clark, Jerry Nickel, Robert L. Nielsen, Wayne L. Singleton, Ross Jabaay, Gary G. Standiford, Raymond L. "Mick" Ortman, Melvin F. Vance and H. Wayne Dillman. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue University Agricultural Alumni Association honored 10 agricultural leaders for their contributions to agriculture and their communities.

The association presented the Certificate of Distinction on Saturday (Feb. 6) during the annual Ag Alumni Fish Fry at the Toyota Blue Ribbon Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

"This award has been presented annually since 1938 and is the highest honor bestowed by the Ag Alumni Association," said Donya Lester, the association's executive secretary. "Like those who have received the award before them, this year's recipients have made a significant impact on the agricultural profession."

The 2010 recipients include:

* Frank M. Clark of Williamsport, Ind. Clark operates a family farm that includes a cow-calf operation and feedlot, and cropping corn, soybeans and wheat. He has served as president of the Indiana Beef Cattle Association, dues director of the National Cattleman's Beef Association and member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cattlemen's Beef Board - the national check-off board. He also has served on the advisory board of Purdue's Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory and Scholarship Committee of the university's animal sciences department. In 2001 Clark and his wife, Wini, endowed a beef scholarship in the department to recognize a student for academic, leadership and beef industry excellence. Clark earned a bachelor's degree in animal husbandry from Purdue in 1954.

* H. Wayne Dillman of Martinsville, Ind. Dillman serves as a lobbyist with Indiana Farm Bureau. He formerly was the legislative director of the Indiana Farmers Union and a board member of the Indiana FFA Foundation and Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association. Dillman is a volunteer for the Pioneer Farm and Home Show, a project of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association at the Indiana State Fair. During the fair, he is one of Pioneer Village's senior historical interpreters and serves as announcer for the daily antique farm machinery exhibitions. He also is an accomplished storyteller, humorist, author and historian and is a member of the National Association of Storytellers. He has published a book, "Growing Up Country," about rural life around <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Banta, Ind. Dillman was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by former Gov. Joe Kernan. Dillman received a bachelor's degree in animal husbandry from Purdue in 1951.

* Nola J. Gentry of West Lafayette, Ind. Gentry is manager and corporate treasurer of Gentry Farms Inc., a 950-acre grain farm in Tippecanoe County. She is a director of the Farmers State Bank of Brookston. She has served on the Tippecanoe County Commission and held leadership positions with the Association of Indiana Counties, Indiana Association of County Commissioners, Tippecanoe Economic Development Commission and the West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission. In 2005 Gentry was appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels to the Indiana State Soil Conservation Board, where she has served as chairwoman since 2008. She is a passionate supporter of Purdue, especially women's athletics. Gentry earned a bachelor's degree in family economics from Purdue in 1974.

* Ross Jabaay of Ames, Iowa. Jabaay is senior director of food safety and quality for Burke Corp. of Nevada, Iowa, a manufacturer and marketer of pizza toppings and other fully cooked meat products now owned by Hormel Foods. Jabaay has enjoyed a distinguished career in the food industry with such companies as Hormel Foods, Farmland Foods Inc., Sugardale Foods, Henry House Inc./Tyson Foods Inc. and FreshMark Inc., where he created a corporate food safety board and initiated new product lines that added $5 million in annual sales. His extensive service to the meat products industry includes leadership positions with the American Meat Science Association, Meat Industry Research Conference and International Association of Food Protection, among others. Jabaay is a native of Jasper County and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in animal science from Purdue in 1968 and 1973, respectively.

* Jerry Nickel of Connersville, Ind. Nickel is president and founder of Midwest Ag Finance (MAF), a financial services firm based in Rushville that services a loan portfolio of $170 million and insures 190,000 crop acres in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. MAF employs 37 people and originates about 25 percent of the loans guaranteed by the Indiana Farm Service Agency (FSA) - nearly twice as much as FSA's second most active lender. Nickel was president and secretary/treasurer of the Indiana Ag Bankers Society, served on the Ag Committee of the Indiana Bankers Association and was a member of former Sen. Dan Quayle's ag advisory committee and the Indiana Agriculture Strategic Planning Committee. He earned a bachelor's degree in animal science from Purdue in 1975.

* Robert L. Nielsen of West Lafayette, Ind. Nielsen is a professor of agronomy at Purdue, where he has served as the Extension corn specialist for nearly 28 years. His primary role at Purdue is disseminating corn production information to Indiana farmers and agriculture professionals. Since 1983 Nielsen has made presentations in more than 1,200 Extension programs, reaching 141,000 individuals in Indiana, the United States and other countries. Nielsen's King Corn Web site, with its famous "Chat 'n Chew Café," logged 377,000 page accesses in 2007 alone. He has written more than 380 newsletters since 1983 and more than 400 online newsletter articles in the past 15 years. Nielsen conducts corn research and collaborates with other researchers in Purdue's College of Agriculture. He has numerous professional memberships and has received more than a dozen ag-related awards.

* Raymond L. "Mick" Ortman of Kokomo, Ind. Ortman is chairman of the board of Kokomo Grain Co. Inc., where he retired as the company's president and CEO in 2003. Under Ortman's leadership, Kokomo Grain grew from a single feed mill with 12,000 bushels of storage to one of the largest privately held companies in Indiana, with seven locations in the state and three in Tennessee. Ortman is the sole owner of Winamac Southern Railway Co., a 52-mile short-line railroad serving Howard, Cass and Carroll counties, primarily for agricultural clients. He has worked closely with Purdue Agriculture on research to improve grain drying and storage. This past December Ortman was honored with the Distinguished Hoosier Award by Gov. Mitch Daniels. Ortman earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics from Purdue in 1951.

* Wayne L. Singleton of West Lafayette, Ind. Singleton is Professor Emeritus of Animal Sciences at Purdue. He retired in 2003 after spending his entire 33-year career as a Purdue Extension swine specialist in breeding herd management. Singleton is considered a pioneer in swine breeding because of his contributions to the successful adoption of artificial insemination (AI) in the swine industry. AI revolutionized swine production, increasing artificial matings 80 percent since 1990, resulting in a significant improvement in market hogs. Singleton authored 45 research publications, more than 50 Extension publications, six videocassettes and numerous other swine breeding herd management publications. He has served with many agriculture organizations and received numerous awards. Singleton earned a bachelor's degree in animal science from Purdue in 1966.

* Gary G. Standiford of Lafayette, Ind. Standiford is co-owner of SDF Farms, a grain farming operation based in Tippecanoe County, and co-owner of DCI Development LLP, a commercial real estate development corporation. In 1965 he joined his wife Connie's family in their farming operation and relocated to Tippecanoe County. Under the couple's leadership, the farming operation transitioned out of livestock and grew the grain production to include specialty grains. Standiford had some of the first global positioning systems yield data collected in Indiana and was one of the first growers in the state to take delivery of seed corn in bulk containers. He is founder and past president of the Tippecanoe County Grain Producers Association and served on the county Extension Board. He earned a bachelor's degree in food science from Purdue in 1960.

* Melvin F. Vance of Waynetown, Ind. Vance was an agriculture teacher and FFA adviser at Waynetown and North Montgomery high schools for 33 years, retiring in 1992. While teaching at North Montgomery, Vance received national recognition for adapting and promoting a technology that enabled high school horticulture students to grow conifer seedlings in the greenhouse. After retirement from teaching, he and his wife, Lois, owned and operated Vance Tree Farm in Montgomery County until his retirement in 2005. As a Christmas tree grower, Vance experimented with various weed control strategies in tree plantations and conducted variety trials on Christmas tree species adapted to Midwest growing conditions. His research was published in Christmas Trees magazine. Vance earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural education from Purdue in 1960.

Writer: Steve Leer, 765-494-8415, sleer@purdue.edu

Source: Donya Lester, 765-494-8593, lesterd@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-8415;
Steve Leer, sleer@purdue.edu
Agriculture News Page