Veteran Ag Communicators Named AAEA Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Long-time AAEA members John Harvey and Fred Myers were named American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) Lifetime Achievement Award winners at the Ag Media Summit in New Orleans.

The awards, sponsored annually by CHS, Inc., recognize AAEA members, past and present, for exemplary service to the organization. The recognition program was re-instituted in 2007.

According to AAEA Legacy Committee Chairman Larry Dreiling of High Plains Journal, Harvey and Myers “helped reshape AAEA from what some might have considered an old boys club into a group that seeks professional improvement while still having a little fun.”

Harvey an ‘Active Affiliate’
Harvey has held membership in AAEA since 1962-eight years as an active member and the remainder as an affiliate. John likes to say: “I look at myself as an ‘active affiliate.'” He served as AAEA president in 1980.

Under John’s leadership, AAEA held its first Writing Workshop. He was the editor of The ByLine during much of the 1970s. In their joint letter of nomination, honorary member Wayne Swegle and Gregg Hillyer of DTN/The Progressive Farmer wrote: “John Harvey’s signature greeting-“Write On!”-reflects his creative talents and lifetime of service to AAEA that few can match.”

They also noted John’s commitment to ethics. “John was one of the first AAEA members to address ethical issues and commercial sponsorship concerns confronting the organization and the entire ag communications industry.”

The University of Missouri ag journalism graduate worked on the editorial staffs of the Missouri Farmer, Successful Farming, Reiman and Associates, and Farm Journal. In 1980, during the middle of his presidential term, he switched to the corporate side of agricultural communications, becoming public affairs manager at DuPont Ag Products. He held that position until 1993 when he started his own company, John Harvey Communications, and remains the creative talent behind Classic Tractor Fever that celebrates the history of mechanical horsepower and the people who collect antique tractors.

Myers Dedicated to Professional Improvement
A 1957 graduate of Purdue University, Fred Myers worked on the editorial staffs of Indiana Farmers Guide and The Furrow before becoming a communications leader at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s National Fertilizer Development Center. The NFDC is credited with perfecting the manufacturing methods for most of the dry fertilizers, while formulating the world’s first liquid fertilizer blends.

“In the ensuing years since Fred’s retirement from TVA, he has spent much of his hours dedicated toward professional improvement, something that attracted him to membership in AAEA back in 1962, said Dreiling. “This work began in 1967, when Fred first proposed the idea of a Communications Clinic as a balm to the old ‘Hell Weeks,’ during the Chicago International Livestock Exhibition and National 4-H Congress.”

The first Communications Clinic, held during the 1968 annual meeting, had to be co-chaired by Myers because he was an affiliate member and those holding affiliate membership were barred under the by-laws of the time from chairing committees. That by-law, through the work of Myers and many others, was changed many years ago.

Myers attendance at the Ag Media Summit in New Orleans this year marked his 50th straight on behalf of AAEA. He was recognized by the organization for this achievement and also received a letter from USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack honoring the occasion.

Over the years, he has served on more than 60 AAEA committees, chairing about 20 percent of them, which were devoted to a range of issues. Among them — the first Writing Workshop. For nearly a decade, his Running The Gamut column in The ByLine kept readers engaged with professional development ideas.