America’s farmers need strong advocates at the grassroots level. Here in Illinois we are blessed to have several strong grassroots organizations like the Illinois Farm Bureau, Pork Producers, Beef Association, Corn Growers etc. We are also blessed to have leaders in communications and public policy but most importantly we have strong family farmers who make the work easier. Finding new markets and developing established markets is essential to maintaining progress and prosperity for rural Illinoisans and the shift back to renewable energy sources in recent times has prompted need for research and support from both public and private sources.
One of the key supporters of such agricultural development Dr. Glenn Poshard, president of the Southern Illinois University system, has led a lifetime dedicated to advancing opportunities for Southern Illinois. While serving as president of SIU’s Carbondale campus, as well as the Edwardsville campus and the School of Medicine, Dr. Poshard has not lost his roots. He was raised on his family’s farm in White County where he graduated from Carmi Township High School. His service is not limited to higher education as he served in the Army in Korea where he received commendation for outstanding service. After his service he entered SIU (Carbondale) under the G.I. Bill earning his bachelor’s, master’s and a Ph.D. from the university.
While working on his master’s degree he taught and coached for Galatia and Thompsonville high schools. Then he served as the Assistant Director of the Southern Illinois Regional Education Service Center and Director of the Area Service Center for the Educators of the Gifted. He continued on into public service when he was appointed to the Illinois State Senate in 1984, a seat he successfully kept until 1989 when he was elected to represent the 22nd District in the United States Congress. He limited himself to no more than 10 years in office and then was the Democratic nominee in the 1998 gubernatorial election against the then elected Governor George Ryan. Though he was not elected to serve as the Governor of Illinois, Dr. Poshard continued forward and together with his wife, Jo, started the Poshard Foundation which has been a leader in efforts to care for abused, neglected and abandoned children throughout Southern Illinois.
Dr. Poshard has been an active figure on the Carbondale campus serving as the Vice Chancellor for Administration from 1999 until 2003 when he was appointed the SIU Board of Trustees and then later was elected chair of the board until he became the university president. Dr. Poshard is also the chairman of the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) in Edwardsville which according to its website “…is the only facility in the United States and the world to have under one roof: Analytical Laboratory, Fermentation Laboratory, Pilot Plant and Workforce Training.”
Dr. Todd Winters, Interim Dean of the SIU College of Agricultural Sciences, said that “the NCERC has given the SIUC College of Agricultural Sciences credibility in the biofuels research arena, from developing feedstocks to studying policy related to new generation cellulosic ethanol production.” It is clear that not only is the quality of research coming out of the NCERC helping the industry in increasing efficiency but it is also providing unique educational opportunities to students and employees to be actively involved in providing clean, domestic, renewable fuels.
As a student in agricultural systems at SIU, I am very proud of my president for his support of sensible energy solutions that include a variety of resources which means biofuels along with other new technologies. His support of family farmers rings out in the statement I received from him when he found out he was being honored…
“I want to thank the Illinois Corn Growers’ Association for this award; but more importantly, I want to recognize their continued joint efforts with Southern Illinois University in creating, developing and maintaining the nation’s only full scale ethanol and bio-refining research and testing facility. Our goal was simple; secure the future of alternative fuels in this country by providing the scientists and the physical resources necessary to support the research and development of a renewable fuels industry in our agricultural heartland.
There are many ethanol facilities located in Illinois that will eventually need to be retrofitted for the next generation of corn to fuel technologies; but as these producers, who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in these facilities attempt to grow their businesses and add jobs to our agricultural economy, they must have confidence that there is a vibrant governmental research effort to support them. Bio-processing is at the heart of revitalizing our downstate rural economy and why my University will continue to be a strong and dependable partner for the industry as this future unfolds.”
Southern Illinois University
Congratulations Dr. Poshard on your award and thank you for your commitment to advancing forward the research and technology to provide a safe and reliable energy future for my generation as well as future generations!
Thanks to Dr. Poshard, Mr. Gross, Dr. Winters, and NCERC for their contributions to this post’s content.