Every year the South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) recognizes an outstanding communicator for the Ag industry. Lon Tonneson, of the Dakota Farmer, is the recipient of the SDCGA 2007 Excellence in Public Outreach Award which was presented to him during the SDCGA’s 21st Annual Meeting held Jan. 6.
The Excellence in Public Outreach Award is given to someone who goes the extra mile in representing the industry to the general public with fairness, accuracy and diligence.
With over a quarter of a century in ag writing under his belt, Tonneson has earned a name for himself in covering agricultural news. A graduate of SDSU with a degree in journalism, Tonneson was able to combine his interest in farming, business and public affairs when his career in writing for ag publications began in 1981. He first wrote for the Minnesota Farmer and later for the Dakota Farmer, where he is currently editor. He also is a contributor to Farm Progress Companies’ 18 other state farm magazines. He has won many awards for his reporting and photography, including being named Writer of the Year by the American Agricultural Editors Association.
A South Dakota native, this journalist’s interest in agriculture can be traced back to his family’s hobby farm near Baltic, S.D. His family grew pickles for Gedney to earn vacation money and he and his brothers and sisters raised horses and Holstein calves. As a teenager, he worked on a neighbor’s grain and cattle farm.
Tonneson and his wife, Kathy, started a commercial pumpkin/ entertainment farm, which they ran for nearly 18 years. Parents of three grown sons of their own, the couple have also been active in a high school foreign exchange student program, hosting students from Brazil, Sweden and Denmark. He has served on the local school board for several years and was a founding member of their local Dollars for Scholars program.
Tonneson was chosen for this award based on his outstanding representation of the ag industry through his fair, unbiased and in depth articles published in Farm Progress publications and the SDCGA applauds his efforts on behalf of the industry.