College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni honored for distinguished service

AMES, Iowa — The Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the Iowa State University Alumni Association presented awards to the 2020 class of distinguished honorees during a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, April 7.

Jeff Plagge received the 2020 CALS Floyd Andre Award. This award honors alumni and friends who have made outstanding contributions to production agriculture, agricultural business or who had a significant impact on Iowa agriculture.

Plagge, of Spirit Lake, Iowa, serves as superintendent of the Iowa Division of Banking, a role he was appointed to in 2019 by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural business in 1978. Plagge has served as chief executive officer of four Iowa banking organizations, ranging in asset size from $92 million to $2.4 billion. In 2020, he retired from his most recent role as CEO of Northwest Financial Corporation based out of Arnold’s Park, Iowa.

Plagge has served on boards and committees for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, American Bankers Mutual Insurance, Sheltered Harbor, The Clearing House and the American Bankers Association. Locally, his service includes leadership positions on the boards of Delta Dental of Iowa, the American Red Cross Central Iowa Chapter, the Iowa Banker’s Association and the Iowa State University Agricultural Endowment. He currently serves on the board of directors for Northwest Financial Corporation and its subsidiaries.

Plagge has earned recognition with the prestigious American Bankers Association Bruning Award, the Iowa Bankers Association James A. Leach Award and the BankBeat Banker of the Year Award.

Dewayne Goldmon received the 2020 CALS George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award. The award honors college alumni and friends who have demonstrated outstanding achievement or leadership in making significant, influential or innovative contributions to society.

Goldmon, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, serves as the inaugural senior advisor for racial equity to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and manages his family’s 1,400-acre farm operation. He is a recognized national leader in diversity and inclusion in agriculture.

Goldmon earned his doctorate degree in agronomy in 1991. Prior to his current role, he co-founded and served as the first executive director of the National Black Growers Council. He had a highly successful career in the agricultural seed and chemical industry, working in technology and product development, government affairs and human resources. He retired in 2019 as the outreach lead for Bayer Crop Sciences.

During his graduate studies at Iowa State, Goldmon was a member of the college’s minority programs team, recruiting and advising undergraduate students of color. He was a founding member and advisor of the Iowa State Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) student organization.

Goldmon is currently serving his third term on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Advisory Committee on Minority Farmers and serves on boards for MANRRS, the Southern Risk Management Education Center and the Policy Center for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers.

Roger Carlsson and Betsy Freese each received the 2020 CALS Henry A. Wallace Award. The award honors college alumni or friends who have achieved notable professional achievements nationally or internationally and brought distinction to themselves, the college and the university through significant contributions. 

Carlsson, of London, United Kingdom, is founder and chairman of First Continental Trading Group of Companies (FCT). He is an investment and risk officer in the global investment management industry.

Carlsson earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural business in 1978. A member on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade, Carlsson grew FCT into a globally-recognized investment firm and one of the largest independent market making and proprietary trading groups in the world. With operations in key global financial centers, FCT was one of the largest independent shareholders of the London International Financial Futures Exchange, an organization eventually acquired by the New York Stock Exchange.

In 1998, Carlsson founded the Carlsson Family Foundation, which he established to manage his charitable contributions and provide a research vehicle for other donors wishing to make informed philanthropic decisions. His philanthropy has extended to Iowa State University students, helping establish the Paul Doak Agricultural Business Recruiting Scholarship and hosting CALS study abroad students visiting the United Kingdom. 

Freese, of Indianola, Iowa, earned her degree in agricultural journalism in 1984, and serves as executive editor for Meredith Agrimedia and Successful Farming magazine. Throughout her 36-year tenure with Meredith Agrimedia, Freese has grown the reach of her platforms to meet technological advancements of the organization’s national audiences. Successful Farming is now one of the top online resources in the farming and ranching industries.

For the past 26 years, she’s served as publisher for the Pork Powerhouse rankings, an annual report of the world’s top pork producers. In 2017, she was honored as a Folio magazine’s Top Women in Media Industry Leadership awardee. In 2019, her work with the Pork Powerhouse rankings won her Folio’s top award for a single article. Freese was the founding editor of Living the Country Life magazine, growing the brand from a quarterly publication to a multi-faceted media presence.

Her professional achievements have netted her national accolades, earning the President’s Award from both the American Agricultural Editors’ Association and the North American Agricultural Journalists. Throughout her career, Freese has served as a mentor to aspiring communicators. She helps supervise Meredith Agrimedia’s apprentice program and serves on the board of directors for the Des Moines Metro Opera Board of Trustees and the Indianola Public Library.

Colin Hurd was honored with the 2020 CALS Outstanding Young Professional Award. The award honors mid-career CALS alumni or friends who have distinguished themselves through significant advancement and achievement in their discipline, field or area of expertise.

Hurd, of Ames, Iowa, earned his degree in agricultural studies in 2013. He is an entrepreneur in the agricultural technology industry serving as strategic initiatives manager for Raven Industries. As an Iowa State student, Hurd participated in the CALS Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, founded Agricultural Concepts and developed TrackTill, a planter attachment designed to minimize soil compaction.

In 2016, Hurd joined the inaugural cohort of the Iowa State University Start-Up Factory and Ag Start-Up Engine and founded Smart Ag, a company focused on commercializing autonomous farming solutions. Smart Ag’s first product, AutoCart, allows farmers to automate a grain-cart tractor. In 2019, SmartAg was acquired by Raven Industries. 

Hurd has been honored as a STATEment Maker by the Iowa State Alumni Association and recognized in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 class for manufacturing and industry and AgGrad’s 30 Under 30 class.

(Editor’s note: Photos of award winners are available by contacting Melea Reicks Licht.)