Montana State University

MSU to honor outstanding agricultural leaders

October 2, 2015 -- Jenny Lavey, MSU News Service

Max and Kirsti Cederberg, owners of the Hot Rod Ranch of Turner, have been named 2015 Outstanding Agricultural Leaders on behalf of the MSU College of Agriculture and the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station. Lola Raska, executive vice president of the Montana Grain Growers Association, has been named a 2015 Outstanding Agricultural Leader on behalf of the MSU College of Agriculture and the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station.

Max and Kirsti Cederberg, owners of the Hot Rod Ranch of Turner, have been named 2015 Outstanding Agricultural Leaders on behalf of the MSU College of Agriculture and the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station.

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
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The Montana State University College of Agriculture and Montana Agricultural Experiment Station will present its annual Outstanding Agricultural Leader awards during the annual Celebrate Agriculture event scheduled for Nov. 5-7 at MSU.

Lola Raska, executive vice president of the Montana Grain Growers Association (MGGA), and Max and Kirsti Cederberg, owners of the Hot Rod Ranch of Turner, have been named the 2015 Outstanding Agricultural Leaders. The public is invited to congratulate the recipients at a Montana-made breakfast to be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, in MSU’s South Gym of the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center.

The Outstanding Agricultural Leader Award is an award given to individuals or couples who are well-respected in Montana’s agricultural community. The award has a long history in the college and has been given to those who have impacted many with their accomplishments, have a lifetime of achievement in agriculture, are industry leaders or innovative producers and are actively involved in the agricultural community.

This year’s award recipients exhibited outstanding leadership in agricultural and public service to Montana and MSU, according to members of the selection committee. They also have a rich and lengthy history in leadership roles as agricultural producers, farm and crop policy advocates and public service leaders.

Raska grew up in Plentywood on a grain and cattle operation and attended MSU after high school. At MSU, she was active in collegiate 4-H, National Honor Society, Alpha Zeta and Service, Patriotism, Unity, Responsibility and Sacrifice (SPURS), and worked in the Montana soils testing lab as an undergraduate. After graduating from MSU in 1979 with honors and a bachelor’s degree in soil science, she and her husband, Steven Raska, spent a short time in Omaha, Neb., and then returned to the Great Falls area.  Raska then worked for McIntosh Grain and Columbia Grain while also running the Raska Farms Operation in Belt with her husband and raising their two children, who attended Belt Public Schools.

Following a dedicated role as a Montana farm and ranch policy associate with MGGA, Raska is now the executive vice president of the organization, where she represents the interests of Montana’s wheat and barley producers in areas such as crop insurance, federal and state agricultural regulations and transportation and input costs.

During her time at MGGA, Raska has emerged as a respected leader in Montana and the country on federal farm and crop policy issues and farm policy education, according to the selection committee. The committee added it has been most evident in her work representing Montana producers in the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills, where she advocated for Montana’s agricultural producers. Raska has also supported a variety of MSU projects, most notably her position in fundraising with the Montana Grains Foundation and her search committee position for the Montana Plant Sciences Chair. Raska also dedicates much of her free time to public service and volunteer groups including Belt Public Schools, the Great Falls and Montana chambers of commerce, state and national grain growers associations, Montana Society of Association Executives and the Treasure State Resource Industry Association.

Raska and her husband have two children, Wilson and Carly. Wilson graduated from MSU in 2007 in film production, and Carly graduated from Washington State University in 2009 in public relations and political science.

Max and Kirsti Cederberg have provided more than 30 years of direct support to the Northern Agricultural Research Center (NARC) in Havre through their multi-generation ranch, Hot Rod Ranch Inc., near Turner, which was homesteaded in 1928 by Max’s great uncle. The family’s property and agricultural legacy has been a long-standing source of leadership and support for the agricultural community in the tri-county area of Hill, Blaine and Phillips counties. According to officials with NARC, Max’s father, Leon, was one of the first producers along the Hi-Line to experiment with growing diverse crops such as safflower, rape seed and buckwheat, which prompted the Cederberg farm to host an off-station research site with crops not typically produced in the area, beginning in 1982.

Max grew up farming with his father on the family farm and became a licensed mechanic, a trade he is known for in the region. Max married Kirsti in 1988 and began managing the family farm in Turner in 1994.  ince then, their research site has hosted cereal fertility trials along with spring and durum wheat, spring barley, pea and winter wheat variety trials. The Cederbergs’ on-farm research site provided some of the most influential research that was performed and used in NARC’s effort to increase yield and protein content in wheat for farmers along the Hi-Line and across the state of Montana, officials with NARC said.

In addition to serving as crop-research collaborators with NARC, both Max and Kirsti have also donated their time and agricultural passion as members of NARC’s Advisory Board, including positions as chair and vice chair. Additionally, the Cederbergs have a respected reputation outside of NARC, as both are often called the unofficial mayor(s) of Turner in their community engagement, mentorship of young farmers and support for agriculture along the Hi-Line. Most recently, the Cederbergs worked closely with MSU Extension as field monitors and cooperators for the orange wheat blossom midge project helping to track the presence of the midge by hosting a trap on their farm and monitoring midge populations in the Big Flat area.

The selection committee for the Outstanding Agricultural Leader award is comprised of three Montana agriculture representatives, a College of Agriculture faculty member and an MSU student. MSU’s College of Agriculture has presented Outstanding Agricultural Leader awards since 1999.

Contact: Susan Fraser, sfraser@montana.edu or (406) 994-3681