A friendly face in agriculture across the state, Mike Jaspers has been named the 2022 recipient of the Excellence in Agriculture Award presented at the South Dakota Corn 36th Annual Conference on Sat., Jan. 22, 2022, at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
The Excellence in Agriculture Award goes to an outstanding individual who exemplifies excellence in agriculture by his or her significant contributions to the industry.
“I am extremely honored and excited to have received such recognition in front of my peers,” Jaspers said. “I truly believe the world is run by those who show up and I take that with me into every aspect of my life, not expecting to receive any type of award or recognition for simply doing what needs to be done.”
Jaspers not only stepped up to serve as the interim Executive Director at South Dakota Corn, he is also the business development director at East River Electric Power Cooperative and is a cattle, hog and row crop farmer in addition to having served as the state secretary of agriculture under Gov. Daugaard.
About SD Corn: South Dakota Corn, which houses the South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) and the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council (SDCUC), serves as a powerful educational and legislative voice for corn farmers in the state. This active commodity group collaborates to promote corn by influencing public policy, educating consumers, developing new corn markets, increasing corn usage and improving grower profitability. Details at sdcorn.org.
East River Electric Power Cooperative and its Employees Committee, along with the Sioux Valley Energy Operation Round Up program, CoBank’s Sharing Success program and Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Charitable Giving program recently donated $14,500 to the Lake County 4-H program. East River donated $5,000 of the total and coordinated another $9,500 in matching donations from Sioux Valley, CoBank and Basin Electric. The funds will be used to replace overhead doors on the livestock barns at the Lake County 4-H facilities.
“We are so excited to be able to help fund these critical upgrades to the facilities at the 4-H grounds in Madison and thankful for all the organizations that partnered with East River to make this effort a success,” said East River Employees Committee Chair Paul Letsche. “Being able to assist an organization that plays such a critical role in developing the leaders of tomorrow is a real honor.”
4-H is a national program that provides experiences for young people to learn by doing and provides opportunities for them to make their lives and communities better. More than 200 youth are currently enrolled in the Lake County 4-H Program. The local office operates outreach programs with all students in the region, not just program participants, in the towns of Oldham/Ramona, Rutland, Chester and Madison.
“We would like to thank all of the partners for this generous donation for overhead doors to our livestock barns,” said Lake County 4-H Youth Program Advisor Jen Hayford. “New doors on our barns will help for ease of access and safety for our youth and livestock.”
For many years, East River has utilized funds through the CoBank Sharing Success program to support local organizations. The Sharing Success program doubles the contributions of its customers to the charitable organizations and causes that they care most about. Since Sharing Success was established in 2012, CoBank and its customers have together contributed more than $60 million to various organizations.
“CoBank contributed more than $5 million in 2021 to local communities through our Sharing Success program,” said Trevor Tedesco, vice president at CoBank. “We are proud to work with East River Electric Power Cooperative to provide help and support to Madison and its surrounding communities.”
East River has also partnered with Basin Electric over the years to support nonprofits. “Commitment to Community is one of our cooperative core values,” said Jen Holen, community and employee engagement administrator at Basin Electric. “Our member matching program is one way that we live out this core value. We are proud to be able to support what our members support in the communities that we serve.”
In addition, East River Electric member, Sioux Valley Energy, provided grant funds through its Operation Round Up program. Operation Round Up funds come from Sioux Valley Energy members who round up their electric bill to the next highest dollar and employees who donate from their paycheck. Approximately 85 percent of Sioux Valley Energy members and nearly 90 percent of employees contribute. In total since 2000, the Sioux Valley Energy Operation Round Up program has provided more than $2 million in funding to local organizations and communities.
“The Sioux Valley Energy Operation Round Up program has a long history of supporting youth programs throughout the Cooperative’s service territory and the Lake County 4-H project is a great example of our commitment to community,” said Sioux Valley Energy General Manager and CEO Tim McCarthy.
PHOTO CUTLINE – Employees from East River and Sioux Valley Energy present the check to Lake County 4-H in front of the barn. Back row, L to R: Jeff May, Nick Reiff, Erica Fitzhugh, Lori George, Anne Hall and Greg Benda. Front row, L to R: Paul Letsche, Carrie Schiernbeck, and Jen Hayford.