Press Release – 

Arlington, Virginia, United States

At the annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in Louisville, Kentucky, next week, top employees of three state departments of agriculture will be honored for their service, communication and administration on behalf of their state.

“Congratulations to our 2021 Honor Awards recipients! Our state departments of agriculture are homes to incredibly talented, servant-hearted individuals who often go unrecognized in the world of public service,” said NASDA President Ryan Quarles. “The Honor Awards Program provides NASDA members the opportunity to recognize our staff for their work on a national stage, and this year, their service came at an unprecedented time of need for so many in our country.”

In addition, two special awards will be given to highlight NASDA’s external ambassadors and public-private partnerships that advance NASDA’s work in the states.

Ambassador’s Circle Award

John Bode, President & CEO of the Corn Refiners Association
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Administrator Kevin Shea

Forging new partnerships for sound agriculture policy relies on generous stakeholders. The Ambassador’s Circle Award recognizes external stakeholders to NASDA who have provided exemplary dedication to advancing NASDA’s mission. This year, NASDA elected to recognize two distinguished individuals to received Ambassador’s Circle Awards, John Bode, President & CEO of the Corn Refiners Association, and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Administrator Kevin Shea. Bode and Shea were both nominated for the award by the NASDA Executive Committee.

Bode’s commitment to food production, processing, safety and continued advocacy for regulatory policy is evidenced in his decades of service to agriculture. He has been involved in every significant change in federal food law since the 1981 Farm Bill, and every step of the way he has been an advocate and trusted advisor for state departments of agriculture.

Bode served in three presidential appointments at USDA, including Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Food and Consumer Services. Before joining USDA in 1981, he was on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

Kevin Shea was appointed Administrator of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on June 18, 2013, after serving as Acting Administrator since June 2012.

In his role as the APHIS Administrator, Shea carries out the agency’s multiple missions of protecting the health and value of American agriculture; mitigating the impact of human-wildlife conflict to protect agriculture, the environment and human health and safety. He ensures the safe and timely availability of new genetically engineered technologies and administers the Animal Welfare and Horse Protection Acts.

James A. Graham Award

Frank Friar, Financial Consulting & Farm Transition Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

The purpose of the James A. Graham Award is to recognize an individual for outstanding work in providing service to agricultural producers.

The 2021 NASDA James A. Graham Award is awarded to Frank Friar, Financial Consulting & Farm Transition Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Since joining the agency in 2007, Friar’s experience and knowledge have proven invaluable in his second career as a financial consulting and farm succession planning specialist for the Wisconsin Farm Center. At a time in his life when most people would have retired decades earlier, Friar’s passion to help those in agriculture continues to serve farm families each day.

Growing up on a small family farm in Grant County, Wisconsin, Friar has a deep appreciation for the farmers he works with. He ensures not only the best interest of their farms, but he has great concern for their personal well-being. For some producers, Friar helps them understand their options with a fresh set of eyes. For others, the consequences are dire, and the prospect of losing their farm brings them to extreme distress. Whatever their needs, they always find a compassionate, insightful, patient and knowledgeable consultant in Friar.

Communications Award

Christin Kamm, Communications Director for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture

The purpose of the NASDA Communications Award is to recognize an individual for outstanding work in media and public communications within a state agency resulting in improved understanding of agriculture and agricultural programs.

The 2021 NASDA Honor Award for Communications is awarded to Christin Kamm, Communications Director for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Kamm has an inherent passion for Nebraska agriculture and has worked for the department for over 15 years. Her passion, knowledge and experience make her an excellent communicator on behalf of the Nebraska. During an extreme flooding event in 2019, and again during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kamm coordinated exemplary emergency communications for the department that informed Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers and communities on state services available through NDA.

Kamm also responds to NDA’s hundreds of public information requests each year. Clear communication is essential for retaining public trust, and Kamm’s skills have been vital to the success of NDA. Also bringing value to the Nebraska’s agriculture industry, Kamm organizes the annual Governor’s Ag Conference that gives Nebraska farmers the opportunity to consult with the state’s top leadership.

Douglass-Irvin Administration Award

Kenny Naylor, Consumer Protection Services Division Director for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture

The purpose of the Douglass-Irvin Administration Award is to recognize an individual for outstanding contributions within a state agency resulting in improved efficiency and impact.

The recipient of the 2021 NASDA Douglass – Irvin Administration Award is Kenny Naylor, Consumer Protection Services Division Director for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.

Naylor has served the agency for 21 years and oversees almost 20 regulatory programs and issuance of thousands of licenses with the mission of providing Oklahomans with the highest level of service. This includes ensuring and enforcing quality standards for agricultural products, regulating pesticide use and providing information and technical assistance to consumers. Naylor’s key contribution to the agency has been his ability to streamline and modernize multiple processes. With his initiative and direction, the agency has transitioned most licensing and reporting programs from paper to digital. Oklahoma registers over 18,000 pesticide products each year, and the majority of these registrations have been made available online in the last few years. Eighty-eight percent of the agency’s renewal notices are now sent electronically, and over 50 percent of all licenses and permits are renewed online across all Consumer Protection Services programs. The modernized processes drastically reduces costs of paperwork, data entry and mailing in addition to improving customer service.

Public-Private Partnership Award

Jesse Cooke, Vice President, Investments & Analytics for Ulupono

The purpose of the NASDA Public-Private Partnership Award is to recognize NASDA Partners Program organizations that have partnered with a state to implement a program, project or service that positively impacts the state.

The 2021 recipient of the NASDA Public-Private Partnership Award is Ulupono, an advocacy organization serving Hawaii. Ulupono is a member of one of our longstanding partners, the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders. In 2020, Ulupono partnered with HDOA in support of two programs, both created in response to the devastating effects of COVID-19 on Hawaii’s agricultural producers and the state’s food supply chain.

When Ulupono’s Jesse Cooke recognized that COVID-19 would halt tourism and the food waste the industry sells to farmers for hog feed, Cooke acted to ensure farmers’ hogs survived and partnered with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to purchase grain for feed. This was a first step by Ulupono in raising thousands of dollars for the state’s Emergency Farmer Relief Program. Together with Ulupono’s contribution, the department provided a total of $470,000 in cash grants to over 200 farmers and organizations, mitigating the immediate impacts of the shutdown during spring of 2020.

In addition, a second partnership between the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and Ulupono in response to the pandemic organized a coalition of philanthropists to provide $500,000 in funding to The Food Basket, the Hawaii island’s food bank. The department matched the $500,000 with CARES Act funding, totaling $1 million for SNAP participants to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables, ground beef, eggs and seafood. By December 2020, HDOA’s program had resulted in over 120,000 redemptions by SNAP participants statewide thanks to the public-private partnership. The award will be accepted by Jesse Cooke.


NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. NASDA grows and enhances American agriculture through policy, partnerships and public engagement. To learn more about NASDA, please visit