Four distinguished agricultural professionals from Illinois were awarded the prestigious “Torch of Leadership” award from the Alumni Association of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation. The inaugural presentation of these awards took place at the DoubleTree Conference Center in Bloomington, Illinois on Aug. 23.
Those awarded were Becky Doyle, Gillespie; Dan Kelley, Normal; Gerald Salzman, Mundelein; and Orion Samuelson, Huntley.
Becky Doyle served as Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture during Governor Jim Edgar’s two terms in office. She went on to serve as a Division Director for the United Nations World Food Programme, and is a Senior Associate with The Context Network, an agricultural business management and strategy consulting firm. She is a 1984 graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program, and continues to farm with her husband and son in Macoupin County.
Dan Kelley operates a diversified grain and soybean farm in Normal. In 2013, he retired as Chairman of the Board of GROWMARK, a multi-billion dollar farmer cooperative that serves the United States and Canada. He is Vice Chairman of the CoBank board and is a director of the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. In addition, he serves as a director of Nationwide bank, Midwest Grain, LLC, and Truth About Trade and Technology, a not-for-profit company. He is a 1984 graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program and serves as that foundation’s board Chairman.
Gerald “Gerry” Salzman recently retired as Senior Director of Global Marketing Harvesting at Case IH, where was responsible for the global marketing and product development of CaseIH combines, cotton and sugar cane harvesters. He has served the industry as a board member on the U.S. Grains Council for 8 years, working to develop markets and enable trade for American farmers. He was awarded the Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and is a 1992 graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program.
Orion Samuelson is the most honored agriculture journalist in America. His daily reports on WGN Radio in Chicago and weekly syndicated television broadcasts on “This Week in Agribusiness” have established him as the “Voice of Agriculture” to millions of Americans. He is a member of the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame, the National 4-H Hall of Fame, the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the National Radio Hall of Fame. He has served more than 30 years as a board member of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation.
The “Torch of Leadership” award recognizes members of the Illinois agricultural community who have built a legacy of leadership through exceptional personal commitment and uncommon excellence in service to Illinois agriculture, be it in business, government or education. Awardees are selected by the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Alumni Association (IALA).