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Cummins honored with Farm Bureau Service to Agriculture award

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 01/08/2014 3:55 PM

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DES MOINES —George Cummins, a retired field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension, has received the Iowa Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture award at the group's annual meeting last week.

The award honors individuals who have played a significant role in the agricultural industry at the local, state and/or national level.

Also honored with Distinguished Service to Agriculture awards were Patty Judge, who was Iowa's first female secretary of agriculture, and Mark Pearson, the late host of IPTV's "Market to Market" and the "Big Show" on WHO Radio.

"I'm honored to be recognized," Cummins said as he accepted the award, his arm in a sling as he recovers from shoulder replacement surgery. "My career was built on the backs of volunteers and others. I thank my colleagues in Extension and vocational agriculture education and my former students and parents for all their support."

Cummins is renowned for his agricultural experience and knowledge coupled with the ability to teach others. Although officially retired, Cummins remains active in Iowa agriculture.

Cummins moved to Floyd County in 1981 as the new county Extension agent. He orchestrated the countywide Floyd County Agricultural Development Authority, a coalition of producers, businesses and industry leaders to promote economic growth. The multi-year leadership development program provided the groundwork for regional economic advancement.

He served in the Peace Corps in Tanzania in 1964 and has returned to Africa to teach about agriculture.

"It was a tremendous opportunity for me as a farm manager and agricultural biology instructor at the first school in Tanzania to have agriculture in their curriculum," Cummins said. "We hear the statistics about world hunger, but when you've met the people hunger has a name and a face and a family and aspirations and goals just like you and me. It personalizes that."

Early in life, Cummins developed the same beliefs as his role model, Dr. Norman Borlaug. Using Borlaug's work as inspiration, Cummins had an integral role in the creation of the Borlaug Learning Center located near Nashua.

He and his wife, Vonda, live in Charles City.

After a career in health care as a registered nurse, Judge was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. During her six years in the Senate, she held numerous leadership positions.

Judge and her family have owned a cow/calf farm in Monroe County for more than 40 years. Her knowledge and experience of production agriculture help her effectively work with leaders to increase market opportunities for Iowa's agricultural products. Judge traveled the world, leading trade missions on behalf of corn growers, soybean growers, and livestock producers. Judge's legacy as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture is tied to her tireless promotion of renewable fuels, allowing renewable energy to become an integral part of Iowa's economy under her leadership.

In addition to working on the family farm, Judge owns and operates her own strategic planning business.

Pearson was heard by nearly one million listeners and viewers.He worked as the markets editor for Successful Farming and as Iowa's assistant secretary of agriculture. In 1995, Pearson and his family moved to a farm in east Peru, where he built a diversified grain and livestock operation. His wife, Eden, accepted his award.

Women in Agriculture award

Carol Miller of Ankeny receive the 2013 Women in Agriculture award. Miller and her husband, Randy, and their son raise livestock, corn and beans.

Miller has participated on the Polk County Farm Bureau executive board and has been treasurer, secretary, vice president, president and currently voting delegate. She is a member of the Iowa Farm Bureau's Speaker Corps program and Ag Leaders Institute.

In partnership with the Iowa State Patrol and Polk County Sheriff's Office, Miller founded the rural road safety program, "Share the Road, Stay Alert and Stay Alive."

Miller has been instrumental in the "Continuing Ag Information Series."