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) tips its hat each year to the local people who drive these efforts.
The nominees and state winners were announced at the Iowa Pork Congress in late January.
State Belle Ringer Award Winner
Four women from across Iowa were nominated for the top Belle Ringer award. All received the county Belle Ringer designation for the key roles they play in their county pork producer organizations.
Buchanan County’s Kathy Wulfekuhle was named the state winner of the award presented by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA). She has been involved with everything from promotions and educational programs to industry public relations.
Wulfekuhle, of Quasqueton, has a true passion for educating youth and adults about pork production. She and her husband, Al, have opened their farm to tours for grade school students, and have hosted local officials and urban consumers truly interested in learning more about pork production.
These events give visitors a first-hand view of how pig farmers care for animals, the environment, and our communities. To continue these educational efforts away from the farm, they also donate pigs for the interactive livestock farming exhibit at the neighboring Delaware County Fair.
Wulfekuhle has served on the Buchanan County Pork Producers Board, and has organized numerous pork promotions at the local Fareway store, the county fair food tent and hog show, and at local high school football games. She also has organized the county pork queen contest for many years.
At the state level, Wulfekuhle has served on the IPPA Youth Committee and has helped with activities such as the Iowa Lawn Party during Winefest Des Moines, and the Iowa State Fair farrowing display.
Other county winners of the Belle Ringer award are: Becky Sexton, Rockwell City – Calhoun County; Sharon Koopmann, Manchester – Delaware County; and Sterling Meyer, Le Mars – Plymouth County.
State Winner of the Hog Wild Award
Three men from across Iowa were nominated for the top Hog Wild award. All received their county’s Hog Wild designation for the key roles they play in their county pork producer organizations.
Ben Johnson of Plymouth County was named the state winner of the award presented by IPPA.
Johnson, of Ireton, has served the Plymouth County Pork Producers board of directors for 14 years. He coordinates October Pork Month promotions, and also promotes pork in projects with the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce and the Plymouth County Fair. That means new residents to the county have been greeted with pork coupons, and many other county residents have seen him grilling pork at the fair and golf outings, or through his involvement with the Dine at the County Line event that brings together farmers and consumers in Woodbury and Plymouth counties.
Johnson also assisted with projects educating students about pork production. Local students may recognize him from swine production videos produced by the Siouxland Agriculture in the Classroom program.
Ben and his wife Janelle were recognized as Master Pork Producers in 2011 and as IPPA’s Pork All-American winners in 2017. Johnson also brings a pig farmer’s perspective in his service to the Plymouth County Farm Bureau and the county 4-H board.
Other county winners of the Hog Wild award are: Sean Dolan, Masonville – Buchanan County; and Jim Salow, Earlville – Delaware County.
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.