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Mizzou honors Verslues for ‘Distinguished Service’

CAFNR recognizes MFA leader’s commitment to ag education with prestigious Mumford Award 

Described by nominators as a “true servant-leader,” MFA Incorporated CEO Ernie Verslues received the 2024 Frederick B. Mumford Award for Distinguished Service April 16 during the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Celebration of Excellence ceremony. 

The award, considered one of CAFNR’s top honors, has been presented since 1999 and is named after Frederick B. Mumford, who served as the College’s fifth dean from 1909 to 1938.

“To me service isn’t really about what you’ve done, it is really about why you do it,” Verslues said as he accepted the award. “Although I am not a graduate of the MU College of Ag, I’m a big supporter because of how it prepares students to be the next leaders in agriculture. Anyone I have ever worked with from the school has a real passion and purpose every day. I’d like to thank you for accepting me, a Mule from UCM, into the CAFNR community, and I’ll forever be grateful.”

Nominators cited the longstanding relationship between MFA and CAFNR and Verslues’ personal commitment to agricultural education in Missouri as reasons he was selected for the award.

“Ernie gives generously of his time to meet with students, to host ag business classes at MFA Incorporated, to match students with appropriate MFA staff for research opportunities and to contribute industry expertise and leadership for both student-facing and executive education programming,” said Harvey James, director and professor, Division of Applied Social Sciences.

Verslues’ involvement with CAFNR includes serving as professor for a day and executive in residence for students, and he has been part of the joint effort to fund an endowed professorship in the Division of Applied Social Sciences. He serves on the boards of the CAFNR Foundation, The Missouri 4-H Foundation, and the Graduate Institute of Cooperative Leadership (GICL). In 2018, he was recognized for his many contributions to CAFNR as an honorary alumnus. 

“Despite the unending obligations that come with being president and CEO of a century-strong, top-35 agricultural cooperative in the country, Ernie generously gives of his personal time to support GICL,” said Keri L. Jacobs, GICL executive director. “He demonstrates time and again his commitment to such programs by supporting his employees and farmer-directors in their participation.”

The Mumford Award for Distinguished Service was the only award given at the Celebration of Excellence to an individual other than MU faculty, staff and students. Information on other award winners can be found online
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