It has been an honor to tell your stories.

Several weeks ago, I learned that the National Pork Board and their past presidents chose me to receive the 2010 Distinguished Service Award. I was flabbergasted. Speechless, actually. Even now, I find myself at a loss for words — something that probably shouldn't happen to an editor — but I am.

I am humbled to receive this award and so very grateful.

Humbled to have my name added to a list of men and women who have served this great industry unselfishly and wholeheartedly; grateful to so many people who have shared what they have learned for the betterment of other pork producers and the pork industry as a whole.

It's a difficult and risky business to single out individuals for their help and encouragement over the years. I must, however, thank my parents for instilling in me a work ethic and a healthy respect for education and knowledge. These have served me well over the years.

I'm grateful, too, to all those who prodded me, encouraged me and competed with me through my formative years in 4-H, high school and college.

While still a student at the University of Minnesota, good friends and fellow Chester White breeders helped me attain a summer field representative position that essentially kick-started my hog-reporting career in the early '70s.

A Dream Job

As my college career drew to a close, I was fortunate to learn of an open editorial position on the National Hog Farmer magazine — my dream job.

I'll never forget my job interview with then-editor Neal Black. As an animal science graduate, I felt it best to confess that my journalism training was somewhat limited. His response is embedded in my memory: “I can teach you to write, I can't teach you the hog business,” he declared.

I soon learned that Neal's newspaper-style writing standards were a high priority and non-negotiable. He also gave me this most valuable piece of advice: “If you want to become a better writer, read good writing.” Read the newspaper every day and as much good works of fiction and non-fiction as possible, he added.

38 and counting

I began my career with National Hog Farmer on January 2, 1973. The years have turned into decades and 38 years later it is fun to tell people, “I'm still in my first job out of college.”

I sit here now with a wonderful plaque on my desk and a bushel basket of experiences that a shy kid from a small diversified farm in southern Minnesota could only have dreamed of having.

I think about the countless producer interviews I've done, the conference programs, press conferences and trade shows I've covered, and I wonder where the time has gone.

Most of all, I am grateful for the time many of you have afforded me, explaining a production method, a new technology or other feature-worthy topics for our magazine.

The best part of my job is, truly, telling your stories — accurately and with purpose. I have been surrounded by family, excellent co-workers and blessed with many friends — personal and professional — across this great industry and around the world.

I am reminded of a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that speaks volumes about how I feel about my time with National Hog Farmer. TR said: “Far and away, the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

My work in the pork industry has been such a prize. I have had the opportunity to spend my life, my career pursuing a passion for pigs. Not something most folks aspire to, but it sure has been good to me. I share this award with each of you who has — or hopefully will — share your stories with me. May I thank you again and tell you — it has truly been my pleasure.