Don Hutchens has retired as executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board effective July 30. He is leaving a position that he held for 27 years.
Board members voted to name Kelly Brunkhorst to succeed Hutchens. Brunkhorst currently serves as director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board.
Hutchens, a native of Geneva, received his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1970. He was engaged in full-time farming and livestock production for 14 years before beginning his career in agricultural leadership. He continues to serve as owner and manager of a crop production operation and feeds cattle.
In 1985, Hutchens was named assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, eventually serving as director during 1986. He was selected as executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board in 1987.
He is a graduate of the first Leadership, Education, Action and Development class in Nebraska. He received the Outstanding Alumni award from LEAD in 1991. He was named to the Nebraska Agricultural Hall of Achievement in 1992. In 2012, Don was recognized by U.S. Grains Council for 25 years of service.
He also served 6 years on National Corn Growers Association's Biotech Working Group and as the Corn Board representative on the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN).
"Don has been a selfless and dedicated advocate and spokesman for Nebraska agriculture for nearly three decades and everyone associated with Nebraska agriculture owes him a huge debt of gratitude," says Tim Scheer, chairman of Nebraska Corn Board, from St. Paul.
His volunteer involvement has included board membership with the Nebraska 4-H Foundation, Nebraska FFA Foundation, Agriculture Builders of Nebraska and Agriculture Committee of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
"There are no better people to work for than Nebraska farmers and ranchers, and I have truly enjoyed my years with the Nebraska Corn Board," Hutchens says. "It has been a privilege to serve the industry I love, and I cherish the friendships that I have forged during my career.
Brunkhorst was raised on a diversified farm and ranch operation south of Wauneta. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor's degree in mechanized systems management and business. After graduation, he managed a feed mill for a private swine operation in north central Nebraska. He then became a district sales manager for Crow's Hybrid Corn Company before becoming the vice president of operations and education for the Nebraska Grain & Feed Association.
He joined the staff of the Nebraska Corn Board in 2004 and his responsibilities included research, grant writing, seed industry and first purchaser relations, and leadership on issues related to transportation, industrial uses of corn, domestic and international markets. He has also represented the board on national research, production and stewardship committees, in addition to being chosen to participate in two national strategic planning initiatives.