January 23, 2012

Gov. Nixon and Director of Ag Honor Individuals' Outstanding Accomplishments during Governor's Conference on Agriculture

Educator, Exporter, AgriMissouri member and Farm Broadcaster of the Year Recognized

Dr. Terry Heiman, RIBUS, Inc., Mom's Originals and Brian Sowers received some high honors in front of hundreds of Missouri producers and agribusiness leaders during the 43rd Missouri Governor's Conference on Agriculture, hosted by Gov. Jay Nixon and the Missouri Department of Agriculture. During the awards banquet Saturday evening, Missouri's Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler recognized the four with Missouri's Agricultural Educator of the Year, Agricultural Exporter of the Year, AgriMissouri Member of the Year and Farm Broadcaster of the Year honors respectively.

"The men and women of Missouri agriculture, from those educating our young people, to those leading our small businesses and sharing Missouri agriculture with the world, are the reason we are successful," said Director Hagler. "It is important that we recognize their contributions to our great state and agriculture."

Life-long educator Dr. Terry Heiman received Missouri's Agricultural Educator of the Year award recognizing his career spanning more than five decades and impacting hundreds of thousands of lives. Dr. Heiman has served as a high school agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor, has led the agricultural education team at the University of Missouri and provided guidance for vocational education programs at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Heiman was also recognized with the VIP Award during the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky. in 2011.

RIBUS, Inc. of Clayton, Mo. was honored with Missouri's 2011 Agricultural Exporter of the Year award. The company, whose name serves as an acronym for Rice Business United States, produces rice-based food ingredients. Company founder and president Steve Peirce accepted the award Saturday evening.

The company, which was founded in 1992, has grown from one employee - Steve - working in the basement of his home, to more than 85 employees and more than 120 distributors worldwide. The company holds five product patents within the U.S. and 17 internationally, and has averaged 20 percent growth each of the last 10 years. RIBUS, Inc. has established markets on five continents, including more than 40 countries.

Missouri began recognizing business' international efforts with the Missouri Agricultural Exporter of the Year award in 1991.

Mom's Originals was named the 2011 AgriMissouri Member of the Year. Mom's Originals founder Taran Hensley accepted the award for her business' outstanding marketing, branding, commitment to their community and overall excellence as a role model for Missouri-based businesses.

Mom's Originals is a gourmet pretzel and treat company based in St. Louis. Hensley founded the company in 2008 in her home, and has since grown into a commercial kitchen she runs with the help of her mom, Jody. The business' signature caramel and chocolate-covered pretzel rods were featured in gift bags at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy awards in 2010.

Missouri's 2011 Farm Broadcaster of the Year, Brian Sowers of KMMO radio in Marshall, was recognized for his outstanding coverage of agricultural issues, as well as for his community involvement and engagement within Missouri's agriculture industry. In addition to his outstanding reporting on issues affecting the agriculture community, from flooding and drought to the Missouri State Fair to state and federal programs, in his listening area, Sowers supports and mentors youth in agriculture and young professionals pursuing careers in agricultural journalism. He has also shown great dedication to growing the annual KMMO Ag Day event highlighting Missouri agriculture.

The Conference, which was held in Kansas City for the first time, concluded Saturday evening with a special performance by country music star Mark Chesnutt. Other special events during the three-day gathering included the Taste of AgriMissouri reception during which more than two dozen producers shared their Missouri-grown foods and beverages with attendees and the benefit auction supporting the FFA, 4-H, ALOT and AFA programs for youth and young professionals in agriculture.

For more information on the Governor's Conference on Agriculture and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, visit the Department online at http://www.mda.mo.gov.

Note: Photos of winners are available online via the Department's Flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/moagriculture/sets/72157628999712673/.