At the 2017 Agricultural Retailers Association Conference and Expo, the association presented the Distinguished Service Award to long-time board member Steve Nielsen.
"First thing I thought was there must be a mistake," Nielsen says. "I'm very humbled and I'm very honored to receive this award."
Nielsen has been a critical component of ARA's public policy efforts for several years.
"Leaders like Steve have battled for ARA and the ag retail industry multiple fronts," says ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. "His assistance and counsel on several issues - including the Des Moines Water Works litigation - has been invaluable."
The ARA Distinguished Service Award honors an individual member of the association who has gone beyond the traditional member and volunteer responsibilities to support the ag retailers industry and the association - making the industry better for all.
Selected by the ARA Executive Committee, the recipient may come from any membership category within ARA: retail, distributor, or supplier.
Nielsen, most recently general counsel and corporate secretary for United Suppliers, joined the ARA board of directors in 2011.
He has been an active board member during his tenure. In 2012, he participated in the Leadership at its Best program, and later served as chair of the Public Policy Committee. He frequently advocates on behalf of the industry in Washington, D.C.
He received his Bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Iowa in 1988 and graduated cum laude from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1991. He was admitted to the Iowa Bar in 1991 and is also certified to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.
Before joining United Suppliers, Nielsen was in private practice. Nielsen is also retired from the United States Marine Corps. Other recent recipients of the award include Jamie Southard of The Equity, Bill Pirkle of Crop Production Services, Paul Derig of Simplot, Rod Schroder of Winfield, Kim Bohlander of Dow AgroSciences, Dan Weber of Ceres Solutions and Ken Manning of Wilbur-Ellis.
Nielsen, who is stepping down from the board of directors, encouraged others to get involved with the organization.
"We've overcome some challenges and we've got a lot more ahead of us," he says. "But the organization is in great hands. We'll meet those challenges."