The women and men involved in Iowa’s pork industry are both enthusiastic and dedicated to the work they do to promote pork and pig production in the state, as well as providing leadership to their county organizations. That’s why the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) each year recognizes these local leaders.
The nominees and state winners were announced at the Iowa Pork Congress the last week of January.
Belle Ringer Award Winners
Six women from across Iowa were nominated for the state Belle Ringer award. Each of the nominees was recognized at the state meeting for the Belle Ringer roles they play in their county pork producer organizations.
Those county winners are:
- Buchanan – Shelby Hawkins, Independence, is very focused on educational activities, including a Pen Pals program that reaches 480 students, and writing newsletters for a six-part “Flat Aggie” series. For adults, Hawkins creates social media posts for the Pork FarmChat, which is a live and virtual field trip to a pig barn. Altogether, she reaches 7,000 people through her promotion of pig farming.
- Buena Vista – Michelle Ehlers, Marathon, was called “the glue that keeps everything together and everyone going in the right direction” by the Buena Vista County Pork Producers. Ehlers was pivotal in the group’s holiday and Easter pork promotions.
- Clayton – Kristin Oberbroeckling, Garnavillo, is credited with spearheading and driving the effort to fundraise and build a swine and sheep barn at the county fairgrounds. She also promotes pork through a cookoff at the fair, and ham and food donation giveaways.
- Delaware – Mary Clemen, Manchester, may never have been a pork producer, but she has been an active griller representing Delaware County Pork Producers for more than 30 years at local events, Iowa Hawkeye football games, and at the Iowa State Fair. The group says “she has literally grilled tons of pork.”
- Jones – Abby Inglis, Wyoming, coordinates the Porker Rides through the county so community members can learn more about pig production. She also works at improving hog shows in the area and works at pork grillings.
- Lyon – Jessie Eben, Little Rock, has done a lot of work in updating the Lyon County Pork Producers’ fair booth. Eben brings her on-farm knowledge to making the booth interactive. She also coordinates the county scholarship awards for the group.
Two of the county winners were selected as co-winners of the state Belle Ringer Award presented by IPPA. They are Shelby Hawkins of Buchanan County and Kristin Oberbroeckling of Clayton County.
Winners of the Hog Wild Award
Four men from across Iowa were nominated for the top Hog Wild award. Each of the nominees was recognized for their Hog Wild designation for the key roles they play in their county pork producer organizations.
Those county winners are:
- Buena Vista – Mike Ehlers, Marathon, is aptly described by the Buena Vista Pork Producers as being “truly hog wild about the pork industry.” As the county president, he has led the effort to develop strong relationships with associate members and building a strong local organization.
- Delaware – Tony Ries, Ryan, is an active pig farmer that has put in countless hours as the pork superintendent of the county fair, as well as being a swine project leader. But he goes beyond working with youth interested in swine. He also takes pigs to schools so all students can learn more about pigs and their role in Iowa’s everyday life.
- Jones – Travis Hansen, Wyoming, supports all the Jones County Pork Producer events, including the Porker Ride, RAGBRAI activities, and grilling. The county noted he “communicates well within the group so all producers are learning from each other.”
- Lyon – Bob Bickerstaff, Rock Rapids, has always gone above and beyond expectations of a volunteer in his effort to promote pork at grilling events. As a former restaurant owner, the Lyon County Pork Producers says he demonstrates how important communicating, advertising, and hard work are at every level of the farm-to-fork supply chain.
Tony Ries of Delaware County was named the state winner of the Hog Wild Award presented by IPPA.
Awardees Share Qualities
The individuals nominated for both the Belle Ringer and Hog Wild awards show the highest qualities of leadership, dedication and commitment to the activities that promote the Iowa pork industry. The IPPA promotion committee selects the nominees and winners of the state awards.
The county organizations that nominated the state winners will each receive $250; the county organizations nominating the others each receive $100.