The Outstanding Ag Leader Award is a statewide award given to individuals or couples who are well respected in the agricultural community, with accomplishments that impact many; have a lifetime of achievement in agriculture; are industry leaders or upcoming innovative producers; and are actively involved in the agriculture industry in Montana. A selection committee comprised of three industry representatives, one College of Agriculture faculty member and one student reviews the applications each year, said Jeff Jacobsen, dean of the College of Agriculture. This award has been presented by the College of Agriculture since 1999.
Jacobsen noted that many highly qualified individuals were nominated for this year's award.
"It was a tough decision for the committee, but Taylor Brown and Les Graham were simply the best of the best in this year's applicant pool," said Jacobsen. "They have both given a lifetime of service to the agricultural industry and it is our privilege to recognize them for their efforts."
Brown is widely known as one of the nation's leaders in the field of agricultural broadcasting. With perhaps the most recognized voice in the Rocky Mountain west, he has played an important role advocating for agriculture as a regional farm broadcaster for Northern Broadcasting System since 1979. Today as its owner, Brown heads up a team that every market day delivers ag markets, state news, sports, weather programming and entertainment features to nearly 100 radio and television stations from the Dakota prairies to the western edge of Montana.
Born in Sheridan, Wyo., Brown grew up on his family's cattle ranch in eastern Montana near Sand Springs. He attended high school in Lewistown where he was active in FFA, and earned his bachelor's degree in agriculture from MSU in Bozeman, where he served as the student body President. A past national president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters, Brown has served since 1996 as the president of the NAFB Foundation. His many achievements in broadcasting include being named America's "Farm Broadcaster of the Year", receiving the prestigious "Oscar in Agriculture" award for radio and accolades from a host of agricultural organizations that represent the grain and livestock industries.
Brown served as the first chair of the College of Agriculture Development Board, and has chaired the fundraising committee for the new Animal Bioscience Building for the past four years. Brown and his wife Shannon have three children, Travis, Courtney, and Colter, and they are active in the Huntley Project community, near Billings. Brown donates his free time to a variety of agricultural youth programs such as Montana Range Days, 4-H, FFA and Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity.
Les Graham is president and CEO of Les Graham and Associates, a consulting business for the agricultural industry in Montana where he serves as a catalyst for the industry on numerous issues. He coordinates and administers the Montana Ag Safety Program for eight of Montana's agricultural organizations and has helped numerous farms, ranches and small businesses with workman's compensation issues.
Montana Department of Livestock's Brands Division administrator from 1974-1988, then executive secretary (officer) and Brands administrator from 1988-1991, Graham has spent much of his career working to improve the livestock industry in Montana. He has been very involved in building consensus between livestock organizations, ranchers and governmental agencies to combat the threat of brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and protect the viability of Montana's agricultural industry.
After growing up on his family's ranch on the Powder River east of Miles City, Graham attended Miles City Community College and Dickinson State University where he obtained his bachelor's degree in business. He later received his master's degree in business and marketing from MSU in Bozeman. Graham and his wife Diane have six children, Debby, Joslyn, Karen, Susan, Stacy, and Jimmy. An avid Bobcat fan, Graham is a member of MSU's Bobcat Club. He has served as a member of the Steer-A-Year committee and on the advisory board for the MSU Rodeo Team.
Melynda Harrison, email@example.com 406.994.7371