• Ron Kotrba

Soybean award winners hold strong ties to success of biobased diesel industry

The American Soybean Association recognized several individuals this month at an awards ceremony in New Orleans, Louisiana, during the Commodity Classic. Three of them—John Gordley, Bob Worth and Nancy Johnson—have been, or continue to be, instrumental in the development of the biobased diesel sector in various ways.

Gordley

ASA recognized John Gordley with its top honor, the Pinnacle Award, for his 28 years providing representation for the organization. The Pinnacle Award is an industry-wide recognition of a lifetime of work that demonstrates the highest level of contribution and leadership within the soybean family and industry.

Gordley has long been a fixture in ag policy on Capitol Hill. He served on Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole’s staff as well as in the Reagan administration in the 1980s. In 1987, he established Gordley Associates, providing government relations services, with a focus on areas related to agriculture. ASA contracted with Gordley Associates in 1992 and Gordley developed a team of professionals with varied expertise to meet ASA’s needs and policy goals in Washington, D.C. He and his team provided critical assistance in the fight to make soybeans competitive with other crops under the farm bill. Gordley developed plans for legislative acceptance of biodiesel as a renewable energy source, resulting in the biodiesel tax credit.

“Under Gordley’s direction, ASA’s credibility, access and engagement in Washington flourished and ASA leaders looked to John as a valued advisor and mentor,” ASA stated.

Worth

ASA also honored Bob Worth of Lake Benton, Minnesota, with its Outstanding State Volunteer Award at its annual banquet in March. The Outstanding Volunteer Award recognizes the dedication and exemplary contributions of volunteers with at least three years of volunteer service in any area of their state association operation. Worth has been a member and volunteer of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association for more than 25 years, serving in various roles, including president, secretary and treasurer. He’s currently vice president of MSGA and chair of the organization’s membership team.

Worth helped lead the effort in Minnesota to advance B2 when it became law in 2005 and continues to champion biodiesel and help educate others on its benefits. At the national level, Worth previously served as an ASA director and vice president, in addition to sitting on numerous ASA committees during his years on the board.

“Worth is passionate about the importance of membership and the role it plays in advocacy,” ASA stated. “He’s been recognized as a top recruiter multiple times over the years. With his vast leadership experience, Worth is well-versed on soybean policy issues and always ready and willing to talk with legislators, administrators, media and other farmers about those issues.”

In addition to his policy work, Worth is a strong advocate for farmer mental health. He is vocal about encouraging more resources for farmers and often offers a listening ear to anyone who may be struggling.

Johnson

Nancy Johnson, the executive director of the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, received ASA’s Distinguished Leadership Award for her leadership over the past eight years, working to create longstanding relationships and support among soybean farmers, industry stakeholders and community organizations to strengthen the North Dakota soybean industry. The ASA Distinguished Leadership Award recognizes a soybean grower or association staff leader who has shown a high level of dedication and successfully led others to meet goals and achieve successes to benefit soybean farmers.

The Peace Garden State has never been home to a soybean-crush project until 2021, when two projects—a joint venture between Archer Daniels Midland and Marathon Petroleum in Spiritwood, and a joint venture between Minnesota Soybean Processors and CGB in Casselton—announced they would build large-scale crush plants. Both projects are expected to serve the growing renewable diesel industry with much-needed feedstock.

Johnson’s leadership at the association has focused on enhancing communication, engagement and vision. She places significant importance on education and advocacy.

“Johnson’s dedication, dependability and strong positive approach to her work have made her an exemplary executive leader at the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association and an asset to the soybean industry at large,” ASA stated.

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