The Agricultural Retailers Association recognized 20 top performers in the agricultural retail industry as members of the Rising Stars class of 2016.

ARA introduced Rising Stars in 2013 as a recognition and development program for high achievers and future leaders within the ag retail sector. This special distinction, sponsored by Yargus Manufacturing, provides ARA member companies with a hands-on opportunity to introduce new and/or emerging leaders to ARA and its conference.

The conference provides participants with an opportunity to engage with ARA through a solid lineup of keynote speakers, educational sessions, exclusive networking events and a first-class trade show. Future leaders gain a better understanding of regulatory forces and legislative pressures shaping how ARA addresses key issues facing ag retailers.

Participants in 2016 were treated to a special VIP reception and dinner hosted by Yargus Manufacturing on Nov. 29 and recognized during the ARA Conference and Expo general session. Rising Stars participants will have opportunities to participate in additional ARA committees and events including the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-In on Feb. 14, Leadership at its Best, Crisis Management Workshop and Crisis Communications Training.

Participants in the class of 2016 were the following:

• Brody Benton, DuPont Crop Protection

• Nate Bowman, Central Valley Ag

• Sharon Cunningham, Alabama Farmers Cooperative Inc.

• Derek Ellis, Crop Production Services

• Matthew Entwistle, Carolina Eastern-Vail

• Charlie Hamilton, Harvey Lyman Company (The Lyman Group Inc.)

• Ben Hunt, Simplot Grower Solutions

• Cody Johnson, Wilbur-Ellis Agriculture

• Lance Koester, Wilbur-Ellis

• Tyler Mason, MFA Incorporated

• Nic McCarthy, Central Valley Ag

• Marie Ocafrain, Crop Production Services Inc.

• Brian Ostrom, Simplot Grower Solutions

• Andy Platte, Wilbur-Ellis

• Terry Probst, The Equity

• Kelsey Riccio, Crop Production Services

• Westin Rink, Premier Ag

• Curtis Searle, Simplot Grower Solutions

• Andrea Tarble, Yargus Manufacturing Inc.

• Heidi Vasseur, Crop Production Services

For more information about how you can nominate your organization’s Rising Stars to participate in the class of 2017, go to