The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) recognized three individuals for their outstanding contributions to agriculture and corn farming recently at MN Ag EXPO 2016 in Mankato.
Karl Duncanson and Tim Gerlach were named co-recipients of the Golden Kernel Award, which is awarded to individuals who were at one time directly involved with Minnesota Corn. Duncanson was a third-generation farmer in Mapleton who served on the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council (MCR&PC). He tragically died in a car accident in May of 2015.
Gerlach served as executive director of Minnesota Corn for nearly seven years before departing the organization in October of 2014. Before joining Minnesota Corn, Gerlach worked for the American Lung Association in Minnesota and played a major role in expanding the use of homegrown ethanol fuel.
Receiving MCGA’s Friend of Agriculture award was Al Juhnke, a former state representative, aide to Senator Al Franken and currently the new executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.
Here is more information on each award winner:
Karl Duncanson, Mapleton (Golden Kernel Award)
Before Duncanson’s tragic car accident, he shared his uninhibited passion for agriculture for two years on the MCR&PC. Prior to serving on the MCR&PC, Duncanson was involved with the State Cattlemen’s Association, Southern Minnesota Research & Outreach Center and his local church.
“Minnesota agriculture lost one its biggest advocates when Karl passed away,” said Doug Albin, a farmer in Clarksfield and current chair of the MCR&PC. “Karl stood up for farmers with a smile on his face and a positive attitude that impacted everybody who was fortunate enough to meet him. We miss Karl dearly, but we were proud to honor him and his legacy with this award.”
Tim Gerlach, Rainy Lake (Golden Kernel Award)
Under Gerlach’s nearly seven years of leadership, Minnesota Corn greatly expanded its research efforts, helped grow the market for homegrown ethanol fuel, expanded its membership base to record numbers and amplified the collective voice of Minnesota corn farmers.
“Tim used his vision and leadership to help us become an organization that seeks solutions to the challenges facing today’s corn farmers,” said Dr. Adam Birr, MCGA’s current executive director. “Minnesota also wouldn’t be a national leader in ethanol if it wasn’t for Tim’s work. Corn farming is truly in a better place thanks to Tim’s efforts.”
Al Juhnke (Friend of Agriculture Award)
For 14 years, Juhnke was a leading voice on agriculture, biofuels and rural issues in the Minnesota House of Representatives, where he also served a term as Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Finance Committee Chair. In 2011, Sen. Al Franken asked Juhnke to join his staff as an energy advisor, a position he held until recently being named executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers.
“Minnesota’s loss is truly Nebraska’s gain. We were sad to see Al leave our state,” said Anna Boroff, MCGA’s senior public policy director. “But that doesn’t diminish the many things Al accomplished for agriculture and rural Minnesota while he was here. Al’s work helped make agriculture a key driver of Minnesota’s economy, and for that, we’re forever grateful.”