ISA Leadership Awards

Recognizing leaders since 2012

ISA Leadership Awards are presented annually to individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding work on behalf of Iowa soybean farmers and the farming profession. 

The 2019 recipients were recognized Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018 during ISA’s Annual Awards Banquet, sponsored by ADM and Beck's Hybrids.

“Improving the competitiveness of Iowa’s soybeans would not be possible without the outstanding commitment of farmers and industry professionals. Nobody does what they do for the recognition. That’s why it’s up to us to find those who go above and beyond and make sure they know they are appreciated.”

— ISA President Lindsay Griener, 2012 New Leader Award recipient

View past recipients

2019 ISA Leadership Awards

Legacy of Leadership Award | Ed Ulch, Solon

This long-time soybean industry leader has consistently served Iowa soybean farmers with passion and integrity. He’s been a pioneer in establishing and ramping up the biodiesel industry in Iowa, a steadfast supporter of improving U.S. transportation infrastructure and a dedicated environmental steward.

This award is presented to an ISA member who has established a history of leadership and has taken an active role in advancing the goals of ISA.

Sponsored by Stine Seed.

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New Leader Award | Klint and Aimee Bissell, Bedford

This husband and wife farming duo work closely with the ISA On-Farm Network® team to conduct trials on their operation. They have also exponentially grown their participation in ISA programming this year.

This award is presented to an ISA member who has recently grown their involvement in ISA programing and shown outstanding leadership skills in their community and/or state.

Sponsored by Corteva Agriscience.

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Innovator in Production Research Award | Denny Friest, Radcliffe

This fourth-generation farmer was part of the ISA board of directors that initiated the On-Farm Network® in 2001 and has been involved with ISA’s research teams since their inception. He believes sustainability works hand-in-hand with being a cost-efficient producer.

This award recognizes an individual, organization or company leading the way in the use of precision agriculture technology and worked to discover, validate and manage practices to improve profitability.

Sponsored by John Deere.

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Environmental Leader Award | Brent Larson, Fort Dodge

A man of many hats, this farmer, professional farm manager and US Air Force officer implements a wide range of conservation practices on the family farm in cooperation with his father and two brothers. He also helps his clients find financially-viable ways to protect Iowa’s soil and water.

This award recognizes an ISA member who is committed to practices that improve environmental performance through work with the ISA Environmental Programs & Services or the On-Farm Network.

Sponsored by Peoples Co.

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Friend of the Iowa Soybean Farmer Award | Joel DeJong, Le Mars

This northwest Iowa ISU field agronomist routinely goes above and beyond for Iowa soybean farmers. He believes it makes perfect sense to work closely with organizations that represent Iowa farmers in order to serve them most effectively.

This award recognizes an elected leader, reporter or other ISA partner who has shown a deep understanding of the agricultural issues and supported Iowa soybean farmers through their actions.

Sponsored by Cargill.

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Rising Star Award | Erin Chalupa, Keota

This Iowa State University sophomore has always been passionate about promoting agriculture and plans to have a career in agriculture communications. She is an ISA Soy Squad member and an American Soybean Association Ag Voices of the Future participant.

This award and $1,000 education stipend is presented to a high school senior or college student. 

Sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America.

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Advocate for Iowa Agriculture | Kevin and Julie Van Manen, Kellogg

Though not ones to seek the spotlight, this farming couple is passionate about telling agriculture’s story. They routinely open their farm for tours and speak with reporters about different agriculture-related issues, shining positive light on Iowa agriculture.

New in 2019, this award recognizes an individual, organization or company who effectively and accurately tells the story of modern agriculture and actively builds bridges between Iowa farmers and consumers.

Sponsored by Bayer CropScience.

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Questions? Contact Lauren Houska, ISA communications specialist, at or 515-334-1040.