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College dean, corn promotion pioneer named Distinguished Service to Ag Winners at IFBF annual meeting


Dr. John U. Thomson has shared his knowledge of veterinary medicine with farmers, veterinarians and students in Iowa and around the country for more than 40 years. Helen Inman became the first woman to be elected to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the first woman to chair that board. She helped drive corn market development, research and communication through the board, while recruiting other women who have become influential in the promotion of the corn industry. Their contributions have helped further the cause of Iowa agriculture and rural communities over the past several decades, earning Thomson and Inman the 2009 Iowa Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award. Both were recognized during the Iowa Farm Bureau annual meeting in Des Moines, Dec. 2.

The award honors individuals who have played a significant role in the agricultural industry at the local, state and/or national level. This is the 32nd year for the award. Both winners received plaques and will be added to a permanent display at IFBF headquarters in West Des Moines.

Dr. John U. Thomson

Dr. John U. Thomson has served the livestock and companion pet industry with dedication and distinction for 42 years. Thomson grew up with a commitment to caring for animals and spent the first 20 years of his career working as a private veterinarian in Clearfield, Iowa, alongside his father, Dr. Vail U. Thomson.

Excited to take on a new challenge, Thomson became an educator of livestock farmers and veterinarians while working as an Extension veterinarian at South Dakota State University starting in 1987. A few years later, he became a professor and the veterinary science department head and director of the

South Dakota Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Lab at South Dakota State. In 1997, Thomson moved back to Iowa, where he provided leadership in teaching, research and continuing education at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Two years later he ascended to dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University. In 2004, he returned to Iowa, becoming the 14th dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University.

Over the course of his decorated career, Thomson has left a legacy of excellence while providing local, state, national and international leadership. His state and national leadership roles include service on various veterinary boards and initiating the National Veterinary Service Act, signed into law in 2003. He has been named "Veterinarian of the Year" in Iowa, Mississippi and South Dakota, and the governor of South Dakota declared June 13, 1997 "Dr. John U. Thomson Day." Thomson is an Iowa Honorary Master Pork Producer, and he has received the Outstanding Service Award from the Iowa State University Veterinary Alumni Association.

Today, Thomson continues to serve as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State. He and his wife, Kay, live in Kelley, Iowa. They have two grown children.

Helen Inman

Helen Inman has spent her life breaking new ground. At the age of 5, Inman moved from Luxembourg to the United States and settled with her family on a farm in Whittemore, Iowa. Inman developed a passion for agriculture when she began farming with her husband, Ross, and later became the first woman elected to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.

As a member of the board, she held numerous leadership positions and eventually became the first woman to chair ICBA. Her leadership and recruiting has laid the foundation for several other women who have since taken active roles in ICBA.

Inman has also been highly influential on a national level, serving as a member of the U.S. Grains Council's board of directors, a member of National Corn Growers Association's Research and Business Development Action Team and chair of NCGA's Biotechnology Working Group.

Inman has been pivotal in promoting biotechnology education. She served on ICPB's biotechnology committee for several years and was involved in U.S. Grains Council workshops that brought hundreds of foreign regulators and policy leaders to Iowa to learn about biotechnology.

Inman's service extends beyond agriculture, to her own rural community. She's taken active roles in her local church and school, the Kossuth County Extension Council, the Bancroft Library Board and the Kossuth County FHA Committee.

Today, Inman and her husband live on their farm near Bancroft. They have seven grown children.

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