Iowa Ag Champions

A video series profiling some of the greatest leaders and innovators in agriculture today.


Many will never have a chance to meet these dynamic Iowans in person, but with the Iowa Ag Champions video series, you can be in the same room as they describe their experiences and offer unique insights and personal advice. Whether it's growing crops, raising livestock or the business of agriculture, these Iowans are fascinating and offer a lifetime of wisdom.

To highlight the historical significance of this video series, Iowa Ag Champions interviewed Norma "Duffy" Lyons shortly before she passed away. Lyons is best known as "the Butter Cow Lady." Her sculptures helped define agriculture and were known the world over.

These valuable interviews spotlight one Ag Champion per show. The series is free and dedicated to Iowa High Schools and all FFA chapters across the state. However, once they are available this fall can be downloaded by anyone free of charge.

Iowa Ag Champions List

Dennis Albaugh

Watch Videos about Dennis Albaugh Owner, Albaugh, Inc.

Dennis Albaugh, the founder of Albaugh Inc., lives in Ankeny, Iowa. Albaugh came from a farming family, but did not take over the family's business because his older brother did before him. Instead, Albaugh attended Des Moines Area Community College, where he earned an Agricultural Business degree.

After graduation, Albaugh sold fertilizer, chemicals and seeds for a local co-op and for Thompson Hayward Chemical. In 1979 he formed Albaugh Inc. and started selling agricultural chemicals from his pickup truck as he drove across South Dakota.

Albaugh barely turned a profit in the beginning, but today Albaugh Inc. is a leading generic producer of agricultural chemicals. This is because Albaugh began selling the generic version of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup. Albaugh has transformed his company from a small agricultural chemical operation to a billion-dollar-a-year business with sales in 48 states and 44 countries. Today, Albaugh Inc. has more than 3,800 employees.

Dennis also plays a significant role in his community. He has developed two housing projects in Ankeny and has served in leadership positions with the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce and Ankeny Businessmen's Club.

Bill Couser

Watch Videos about Bill Couser Owner, Couser Cattle Company

Bill Couser is a fourth generation farmer from Nevada, Iowa. Couser and his wife, Nancy, farm approximately 5,000 acres and feed out 4,000 to 5,000 head of cattle. Couser also raises seed corn, primarily for Monsanto Company, a U.S.-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation.

Not only does Couser enjoy farming, he also has an interest in alternative technology. Couser's feedlot is involved with an Alternative Technology Project with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to explore methods to reduce feedlot run-off.

To further work toward a better environment, Bill is a current board member and a past president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. He also serves on the board of Lincolnway Energy, which operates a 50-million-gallon ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa.

Another focus of interest for Couser is the Story County Cattlemen's Association, the local chapter of an organization of 9,500 Iowa beef-producing families and associated companies dedicated to the future of Iowa's beef industry. Couser has been involved with the Story County Cattlemen's Association for more than 33 years. In fact, Couser was named by Time magazine in 2006 as one of "100 People Who Matter."

Couser has received other recognitions as well. In 2007, he was awarded the Iowa Master Farmers award from Wallaces Farmer magazine. Also, Couser received the 2010 regional Environmental Stewardship Award for his cattle company. Most recently, Couser was given the 2011 Iowa Beef Quality Assurance Award.

Ted Crosbie

Watch Videos about Ted Crosbie Vice President Breeding, Monsanto Corporation

Dr. Ted Crosbie lives in Earlham, Iowa, with his wife, Rowena, on a 160-acre farm. Dr. Crosbie earned a B.S. in Agricultural Education from Iowa State University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Plant Breeding and Cytogenetics from Iowa State University.

Dr. Crosbie is Vice President of Global Plant Breeding, Monsanto Agricultural Sector. Monsanto's Plant Breeding organization is one of the largest breeding efforts in the world with more than 1,000 employees and more than 100 sites worldwide in 20 countries. Dr. Crosbie is responsible for seven crops worldwide.

Dr. Crosbie has been dedicated and a significant component of Monsanto since 1996 when he joined the company as Director of Global Wheat Breeding. Dr. Crosbie worked in that position until 1998, when he joined the Seeds Business Team in Monsanto's Agricultural Sector.

Dr. Crosbie's hard work and commitment at Monsanto was recognized in January 2002 when he was named a Distinguished Fellow in Science for his scientific leadership.

Dr. Crosbie was making significant differences even prior to joining Monsanto. Before Monsanto, he spent most of his career in plant breeding research, beginning as a Graduate Faculty member of the Agronomy Department at Iowa State University. Dr. Crosbie was also President and Chief Executive Officer of ICI Seeds, USA, from 1990 to 1995.

In recent years, Dr. Crosbie has continued his dedication to agriculture. He was named to the position of Chief Technology Officer for the State of Iowa in 2005 by Governor Tom Vilsack. Dr. Crosbie was also named to the Power Fund Due Diligence Committee in 2007 by Governor Chet Culver.

Sandy Endicott

Watch Videos about Sandy Endicott Senior Agronomy Manager, Pioneer Hi-Bred International

Sandy Endicott grew up on a grain and poultry farm in Ohio. Today, Endicott is still active in the farming operation, but she and her husband, Jeff, reside near Norwalk, Iowa. Because of her farm childhood, Endicott has always had an interest in agriculture, and that interest led her to do all that she has achieved today.

Endicott's concentration on agriculture helped her decide to attend college to study agriculture. Endicott attended Ohio State University and Pioneer Institute V, where she obtained a master's degree in Agronomy and bachelor's degree in Agriculture.

Endicott later became Senior Agronomy Manager of International Agronomy, part of Pioneer's Americas group that provides agronomic support to Latin America and Canada. Endicott has been in the International Agronomy role for three years and has had the opportunity to see, support, interact with and learn from Pioneer agronomy teams all around the world.

Prior to her work with the International Agronomy teams, Endicott was a field sales agronomist in Northern Ohio for 15 years and spent more than three years as a research scientist. During this time, she led the agronomy teams at the Hawaii research facilities at Waimea, including Nurseries and Research Seed Production (NRSP) and winter nursery facilities, as well as at the Kunia doubled haploid facility.

For all of her work, Endicott has been honored with numerous awards, including "Sales Agronomist of the Year" from Pioneer.

Patty Judge

Watch Videos about Patty Judge Founder and President PJJ Solutions; Former Lt. Governor,
President of the Iowa Senate, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

Patty Judge was born in Fort Madison, Iowa, and raised in Albia, Iowa. She and her husband, John, have owned a cow-calf farm in Monroe County for 35 years. The couple have three sons and two grandchildren. For her education, Judge attended Iowa Methodist School of Nursing and received a Registered Nursing degree. She also attended the University of Iowa. After college, Patty Judge has gone on to be a public servant for nearly 20 years.

Judge was elected to the Iowa Senate in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. During her time in the Senate, she served as Assistant Majority Leader and Assistant Minority Leader.

In 1998, Judge was first elected to become Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. Her strong background in production agriculture, personnel management, finance and the management of state government helped her to be re-elected in 2002. In 2006, Judge was elected Lieutenant Governor of Iowa with running mate Chet Culver.

Throughout her career, Judge has been a tireless advocate for the Iowa farmer and for more than a decade, has led the charge to make Iowa the nation's leader in biofuels, working with Governor Culver to expand Iowa's status as renewable energy leader in the world.

In addition, Judge has been deeply dedicated to community service. She has served on the Albia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, as a 4-H leader, member of PEO, honorary FFA Chapter Farmer and a member of the Iowa State Fair Board.

Craig Lang

Watch Videos about Craig Lang President, Iowa Farm Bureau

The Iowa Farm Bureau is much like Iowa itself — proudly rooted in the traditions and lifestyles of agriculture yet mindful of a mosaic of other business, social and economic interests. Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Lang talks about the role his organization plays in modern agriculture and agribusiness and his views on the most critical issues facing agriculture today. He also discusses future trends and the role farmers continue to play in the prosperity of 21st century Iowa.

The president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation for more than a decade, Mr. Lang has farmed since 1973 in partnership with his father and brother on 1,200 acres near Brooklyn, Iowa, where they have a 500 head dairy operation.

John Liepa

Watch Videos about John Liepa Iowa Ag Historian

How did Iowa evolve from unbroken prairie to agricultural superpower? Iowa ag historian John Liepa sketches a compelling profile of the history of agriculture in Iowa — full of both successes and failures — and talks about how an understanding of the past aids in both comprehending the present and anticipating the future.

A resident of Indianola, Mr. Liepa is Professor Emeritus of History and Political Science at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) and an acknowledged expert on Iowa ag history. He is currently serving his fifth term on the State Historical Society of Iowa's Board of Trustees, having served both as Chair and Vice-Chair.

Joe and Duffy Lyon

Watch Videos about Joe and Duffy Lyon Owners, Lyon Jerseys Farm

For more than 80 years, three generations of the Lyon family have been milking and breeding registered Jersey cattle on their family farm near Toledo in east central Iowa. Therefore, Joe Lyon has had a large agricultural influence all his life. The deep affection for agriculture only increased when Joe married Norma Duffield Strong, affectionately known as Duffy Lyon.

Joe and Duffy both graduated from Iowa State University's College of Agriculture in 1951. After graduation, Joe and Duffy returned to Joe's home to help his father and brother run their purebred Jersey dairy operation. Today, the Lyon Jersey farm includes 1,600 acres and a 325-head Jersey operation.

Joe played a critical role in the creation and early progress of the Iowa Dairy Industry Commission, Iowa ADA and Midland Dairy Industry Association, Midwest Dairy Association, National All-Jersey, Inc., and several farmer-owned milk-marketing cooperatives.

Duffy received widespread attention with her creation of the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair. She started creating the fair's butter cow in 1960 and did so every year, working in a 40-degree cooler. Duffy's butter-sculpted masterpieces earned her national acclaim as The Butter Cow Lady. Duffy was featured in Time, Life and Newsweek magazines, and she has also made appearances on the Today Show, the Late Show and the Tonight Show.

In addition, the Lyon family is active in service to their community and a variety of agricultural organizations. The Lyons have received many awards in recognition of their dedicated service. (Sadly, Duffy passed away in June 2011.)

Bill Northey

Watch Videos about Bill Northey Former ​Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

Bill Northey is a fourth-generation farmer from Spirit Lake, Iowa, who grows corn and soybeans. Northey has farmed all of his life and only took a break from farming to attend Iowa State University.

At college, Northey kept close ties to farming and graduated from Iowa State University in 1981 with a degree in Agricultural Business. He also was a member of the Farm House Fraternity, serving as its president during his senior year. After graduating from Iowa State, Northey returned to Spirit Lake to farm with his grandfather.

Northey's interest in farming led him to become co-founder and President of Innovative Growers, and he served as commissioner for the Dickinson County Soil and Water Conservation District. In addition, Northey was Chairman and President of the National Corn Growers Association from 1995 to 1997.

During this time, Northey gained an interest in increasing his knowledge of the business world and returned to his studies, receiving a Master of Business Administration degree from Southwest Minnesota State University in 2004.

In 2006, Northey was elected to his first term as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. Northey is currently serving his second term as Agriculture Secretary after being reelected in 2010. Northey's priorities as Secretary of Agriculture focus on advancing science and new technologies to better care for our air, soil and water.
Most recently, Northey was elected vice president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Bruce Rastetter

Watch Videos about Bruce Rastetter CEO, Summit Group

Bruce Rastetter is an Iowa entrepreneur raised on a farm outside of Iowa Falls, Iowa. Rastetter grew up and helped at the family farm until he took a short break to attend the University of Iowa, where he earned his B.A. in Political Science.

After graduation, Rastetter returned to his roots and his love for farming. Rastetter came home to the family farm, but achieved more than the typical farmer. Rastetter founded feed management, construction and swine production businesses.

In 1994, he merged these businesses into one company called Heartland Pork Enterprises. Rastetter served as Heartland's CEO until 2004, growing the company to the 13th largest pork producer in the United States before successfully guiding the company through an acquisition by Christensen Farms.

Rastetter also played a significant role for Hawkeye Energy Holdings. In 2003, he founded Hawkeye Energy Holdings, which grew to become a producer of more than 450 million gallons of ethanol per year.

In addition to Hawkeye Energy Holdings, Rastetter grew his family farm into Summit Farms and today serves as its CEO. Summit Farms is a diversified farming operation that includes row crop and livestock production, both pork and beef. Mr. Rastetter currently serves as the CEO of Summit Group.

Rastetter continues his hard work by committing himself to serving on the following boards: Hawkeye Energy Holdings, Advanced Bioenergy, American Agriculture and Energy Council and Growth Energy. Also, earlier this year, Governor Branstad appointed Rastetter to the Iowa Board of Regents.

Harry Stine

Watch Videos about Harry Stine President and Founder, Stine Seed Company

Harry Stine is a farmer, businessman and innovator. Raised on the family property in Dallas County, Iowa, he grew up with farming and has always had an interest in agriculture. Consequently, Stine joined his father's soybean cleaning business in 1964.

While working in the soybean cleaning business, Stine discovered some unusual soybean plants in one of the company's fields. This discovery led Stine to realize a new interest. Although Stine loved everything about farming, he began to focus on the impact and value of seed breeding.

Stine recognized that high-yielding soybean crops would have a tremendous and beneficial influence on agriculture. Stine wanted to bring farmers the possible benefits, so he and four other seedsmen began a soybean breeding program.

Over the next decade, Harry Stine and Bill Eby formed Midwest Oilseeds. Today, Midwest Oilseeds is still the soybean genetics licensing company of choice in the United States, and the company has also branched out to corn breeding and genetics. In 1979, Stine began selling soybean seed under his own label, Stine Soybean Seeds, headquartered in Adel, Iowa. Stine Seed focuses on developing and marketing the world's best-performing corn and soybean seed.

Stine likes to focus his time toward beneficial agricultural and environmental organizations as well. A member of the American Society of Agronomy and the American Seed Trade Association, he also serves on the board of directors of the Trees Forever Foundation, the Iowa Arboretum and the Brenton Arboretum.

Harry has received numerous awards for his significant advancements and discoveries. He was inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame and received an Honorary Doctorate from McPherson College. Stine is also the recipient of the Entrepreneurial Achievement Award from the Iowa Biotechnology Association and the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award from the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

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