Sioux Falls Stockyard Plaza Exceeds Fundraising Goal!

Sioux City Journal Picture: A rendering is shown of the Stockyards Plaza, set for construction in 2019 . Organizers exceeded their $1.19 million goal, raising nearly $1.26 million for the development of a 3.63-acre park on the southwest corner of what was once the Sioux Falls Stockyards.

Inductees Co-Chair Dana Dykhouse and Jim Woster are involved with the project. Read their stories of excellence at

Sioux City Journal: — The Stockyards Ag Experience outdid itself with a fundraising campaign for the outdoor plaza portion of the Stockyards museum in Sioux Falls.

The project exceeding its $1.19 million goal for the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Community Appeal, raising nearly $1.26 million, which will go toward the development of a 3.6-acre park on the southwest corner of what was once the Sioux Falls stockyards. The project compliments the Ag Experience Barn and Stockyards museum across the street at Falls Park.

The plaza will walk visitors from “pasture to plate” through areas that talk about cultivating, raising, tending and celebrating farm-grown food. The plaza is meant to honor the community’s agricultural roots by interpreting the history of the stockyards while celebrating the impact of contemporary agriculture.

There will be a picnic shelter and public restrooms designed with a farmyard theme.

“The Stockyards Ag Experience Plaza will have a transformative effect on Falls Park and the entire Sioux Falls Area,” said Dana Dykhouse of First Premier Bank, who co-chaired the fundraising campaign. “The destination is a quality of life enhancement and will provide educational opportunities for all ages that honor our community’s agricultural history while serving as an important gateway into one of Sioux Falls’ more cherished areas – Falls Park.”

The Stockyards Ag Experience Barn, which opened last March, has welcomed guests from 47 states and nine foreign countries.

The total project budget for both phases of the project is $4.1 million. The Community Appeal and funds raised in the region have already contributed more than $2 million. Detailed planning is next, and the plaza should be constructed in 2019.


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Inductee Jeff Broin 2017 CEO POET unseats ADM as top global fuel ethanol maker

 Jeff’s story of excellence at this link

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Privately held U.S.-based POET Llc has overtaken industry pioneer and global grain merchant Archer Daniels Midland Co to become the top ethanol producer in the world, the companies told Reuters.

The shift highlights the differing tacks top biofuel makers are taking to address lackluster profits, a supply glut and the oil lobby’s push against the U.S. biofuels program.

ADM is reducing exposure while POET is expanding in an effort to increase profits through efficiency and scale.

POET’s annual biofuel capacity has grown to 1.9 billion gallons and will reach 2 billion by 2019; ADM’s has shrunk to about 1.6 billion gallons, according to figures provided by each company. Prior to this year, both had capacities of about 1.8 billion gallons.

The U.S. ethanol industry has total output potential of more than 16 billion gallons.

ADM, which will report first-quarter 2018 earnings on Tuesday, diverted some of its capacity to beverage and industrial alcohol at its plant in Peoria, Illinois, as part of a strategy to make higher-margin products.

Meanwhile, POET boosted output by adding grain fermenters and other upgrades at several of its 27 ethanol plants and is expanding a facility in Marion, Ohio.

POET constantly finds “new ways to increase yield, make gains in efficiency and maximize returns,” Jeff Broin, POET chief executive officer, told Reuters on Friday.

 Possible acquisitions by POET of other U.S. ethanol plants are also a possibility, Broin said. Both POET and ADM are pushing for increased U.S. ethanol exports and more sales of higher-ethanol blends to draw down abundant supplies of both grain and biofuel.

“There are 20 billion bushels of corn, wheat and soybeans stockpiled globally with no end in sight,” Broin said. “This oversupply has led to four straight years of declining farm income, which is why we’re entering into a modern-day (agriculture) crisis.”

The Black Director Who Should Have Won an Oscar

Snapshot(3).png Inductee Oscar Micheaux – read his story of excellence at  by Gil Troy of the Daily Beast: The grandson of slaves, Oscar Micheaux made 44 movies, becoming the “Cecil B. De Mille of Race Movies,” and the “Czar of Black Hollywood,” inspired by the 1915: Birth of a Nation.

Micheaux’s birthplace, Murphysboro, Illinois, in 1884, and upbringing on a Kansas farm with ten siblings, set him up to be a middle American. But his adopted hometown of Gregory, South Dakota, which celebrates his legacy with a festival, reflects the frontier pioneer he chose to be. When he was 21 he was already homesteading 160 acres in South Dakota. Tough and ambitious, he found acceptance out West—neighbors complimented him as one of them, by calling him more South Dakotan than black.

Back in the Dakotas, Micheaux became the door-to-door cowboy salesman. Not trusting publishers, he established his own publishing company. Trusting his own salesmanship, he sold his first three—of seven—autobiographical novels to his neighbors one-by-one, from farm-to-farm: The Conquest in 1913, The Forged Note in 1915, and The Homesteader in 1917.

 A restless, all-American go-getter, forever looking for new horizons, even while trailblazing his latest frontier, Micheaux leaped from forgettable pioneer novelist to history-making pioneer movie-maker in 1918. The vicious but vivid Ku Klux Klan-infused movie The Birth of a Nation, gave him his “Aha” moment. He immediately appreciated movies as a moving story-telling medium, absorbing viewers into worlds producers produced. Read the full article here 

POET Donates $250,000 to SD Ag Foundation

“We want to do whatever we can do to help our farmers and future generations of farmers succeed.” ~POET CEO Jeff Broin

Image of Jeff Broin

2017 Inductee Jeff Broin

SIOUX FALLS, SD (March 20, 2018) – At a time when agriculture is facing economic challenges, POET is backing efforts to grow the industry in South Dakota through a $250,000 donation to the South Dakota Ag Foundation.

The donation was announced at a press conference today, Ag Day 2018, at POET’s headquarters with Gov. Dennis Daugaard and SD Ag Foundation President Nate Franzen and Executive Director Chris Maxwell. The money will go toward a challenge for the foundation to raise $4 million over the next five years. Gov. Daugaard announced that the state is matching donations 1:4 to add an additional $1 million to that total.

“Agriculture drives this state and every community in it,” Broin said. “This effort to promote ag education, market development, research and more is crucial for the future of South Dakota. We are proud that biofuels have provided the primary avenue for growth in ag markets over the last two decades, and they will play a vital role in helping farmers recover from the hardship they face today. We want to do whatever we can to help our farmers and future generations of farmers succeed.”

Gov. Daugaard also pointed to agriculture’s prominent role in South Dakota’s culture and economy.

“We take pride in agriculture here in South Dakota, and to see SD Agricultural Foundation’s commitment to invest in the future of agriculture is commendable,” Daugaard said. “This challenge will ensure growth in the industry, while highlighting the need for philanthropy in agriculture.”

Broin also spoke to the challenges facing agriculture today and how farmers and the biofuels industry must work together to improve the rural economy.

“Today we are working to make E15 a nationwide, year-round fuel for all drivers. This will inject new life into rural South Dakota communities,” Broin said. “In fact, if you look at the supply and demand data for worldwide commodities, it becomes obvious that in the future, farmers are going to need an ever-increasing percentage of consumers’ gas tanks.”

POET is the largest company in South Dakota, with six biofuel facilities in the state and 28 in the Midwest, plus its headquarters in Sioux Falls. The company’s combined impact on South Dakota alone includes more than $2 billion in business revenues, $384.4 million in household earnings and creating or supporting more than 4,500 jobs.

Since its inception in 2016, the SD Ag Foundation has raised close to half a million dollars. This year, the industry-led, nonprofit organization is supporting 23 organizations involved in youth ag education across South Dakota with grants totaling $34,165.

Programs supported by the Ag Foundation include SD Ag in the Classroom, which provides interactive, digital ag education materials for South Dakota schools. They also support activities from local FFA, 4-H and other groups and provide grants for innovation and leadership programs for South Dakota youth.

About POET

POET, the world’s largest biofuels producer, is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. The 30-year-old company has a network of 27 production facilities. POET, through its joint venture with DSM, also operates a commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. For more information, visit

Read more about Jeff’s legacy of achievement here.

USD Distinquished Speaker Series

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2017 Inductee Jeff Broin

Read his story of excellence at this link

The University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business hosted Jeff Broin, chairman and CEO of POET, as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series in March. POET, the world’s largest biofuels producer. The 30-year-old company has a network of 27 production facilities. POET, through its joint venture with DSM, also operates a commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Broin was also recently presented an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from South Dakota State University. In addition to his current role at POET, Broin and his family founded Seeds of Change, a non-profit organization with the goal of transforming education, agriculture and environmental conditions worldwide.

Inductee Jack Rentschler was born in April

Wishing Jack a Very Happy Birthday!

Image of Inductee Jack Rentschler

1997 Inductee Jack Rentschler

In 1973, Jack Rentschler was presented with a rare opportunity. An Amoco truck stop, on the north end of Sioux Falls, along I-90 became available for lease. It was then Jack changed the course of his life. He left a comfortable, secure and promising career with Amoco Oil to purchase what became Rentchler’s Truck Plaza. At that time, the nation was engaged in a recession with no end in sight and an Arab oil embargo, which left fuel in short supply. Jack saw something there and overcame the obstacles the price of fuel placed in his way during the 21 years he operated the truck plaza before selling it in 1994.

Locally, Rentschler served on numerous boards including: Prince of Peace Health Care Center Advisory Board, Children’s Care Hospital and School Board Member, University of Sioux Falls Trustee, Northwest Bank Advisory Board Member, Sioux Empire Fair, Sioux Empire Farm Show Chairman, Minnehaha County Republican Party, Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce president and board member and Sioux Falls Regional Airport Authority Chairman.

In serving South Dakota, Jack was a member of the SD Board of Regents, Norwest German Farmer Mutual Insurance Co., SD Hall of Fame Past president and board member, and Greater South Dakota Assoc. (SD State Chamber of Commerce) president.

Read more of Jack’s Legacy of Achievement here.

James W. Abbott’s Legacy Honored At VCDC Banquet

Vermillion Plain Talk

By David Lias
Image of James W. Abbott

2017 Inductee James W. Abbott

“Transitions can be tough.”

That was the message driven home time and again Thursday night by Nate Welch, president/CEO of the Vermillion Chamber and Development Company, at the organization’s annual banquet held Thursday night, April 5, in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.

The theme of the event was “The Spirit of Legacy,” and the featured guest of the evening was University of South Dakota President James W. Abbott, who in about two months will step away from his 20-year career at the helm of the university and retire.

“Vermillion is going to miss Jim Abbott tremendously – we’ve been incredibly lucky to have him, and now we’re anticipating something new,” Welch said. “As a community, we’re looking at a time of great transition – a new USD president, a new governor, a new Vermillion NOW! campaign. The makeup of our communities and workforce are changing nationwide from technology to generational shifts.”

He noted that many communities facing transitions are fearful. At best, they hope to move forward and at worst they’re concerned about losing ground they’ve gained, Welch said, adding that by 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce.

Vermillion, Welch said, is “ahead of the game” because it’s not afraid of the transitions that lay ahead.

“We’re ready for them. Transition is the one constant we have, especially in this community. You, the membership and board of the VCDC, have created a strong Chamber and Development Company that provides the structure to take our community’s goals and ideas from vision to reality,” he said. “With our volunteers and continued engagement in every sector, we’re set up perfectly for transitions, even when they’re hard.”

The typical keynote speech at the annual VCDC event was replaced Thursday with a dialogue between South Dakota Board of Regents President Bob Sutton and Abbott. Much of their conversation, before a banquet crowd of 400 people, touched on many of the themes brought up earlier by Welch.

Sutton asked Abbott to describe the biggest change he’s seen at the university and the community since his first day as USD president 20 years ago.

“I think about the building that’s going on in Vermillion,” Abbott said. “I know that people complain about how things are a mess downtown and that kind of stuff, but think about the progress that such a mess means … think about the restaurants that we have that we didn’t use to have. Think about housing.”

Bliss Pointe, a new housing project in Vermillion that has spurred the construction of a number of new homes, is wonderful, he said.

Sutton asked Abbott to share his thoughts about the future relationships between USD and the Vermillion community.

“I think that’s an important question, because we’re entering a time where public education is in for a tough time,” the USD president said. “I think it’s fair to say that there is little appetite at the state level … for increased funding for higher education, and for K through 12, for that matter.”

Abbott noted that when he graduated from high school in 1966, there were 15,500 high school graduates in South Dakota. Now there are about 8,700, but both USD and SDSU have much higher enrollments than they did a half century ago.

“I think the universities in our system that will continue to do extremely well are those where there is a constant emphasis on public/private partnerships,” he said.

Abbott admitted is it becoming difficult to be on campus knowing that he will be leaving fairly soon.

“I’m also so absolutely aware that the next 100 years are going to be as good as the last 160 (for USD),” he said. “I know we’ll get a great president; I know he or she will be well supported by people here in Vermillion.”

Abbott said there’s nothing better than being president of your alma mater.

“I don’t think there’s a better job anywhere,” he said. “The intensity of the emotion … is a quality that, at least for me, has been very helpful.”

Read more about Jim’s 2017 legacy of achievments here.