For 14 years, AGCO Corporation, an agricultural machinery manufacturer, has honored an Operator of the Year; but not this year. For 2020 they decided to do something different, allowing the past winners of OOTY the opportunity to choose a charity in their community to receive a donation from AGCO.
According to AGCO Director of Marketing David Webster, these applicator OOTY winners have been an integral part of their community. By volunteering, they excel in the companies they work for — promoting good stewardship and passing on knowledge they have to younger and/or newer employees. “It has been a great, great program over the past 15 years,” Webster said.
“In a typical year, we have a promotion that kicks off in the summer,” Webster said. AGCO has ag retailers nominate someone for operator of the year. Four finalists are selected and are guests of AGCO at the Agricultural Retailers Association Conference held each December. The winner is announced at the event. “The overall program is a way to recognize unsung heroes who are a critical component to production agriculture,” Webster said.
Covid-19 is the reason AGCO took a different direction this year when it comes to the OOTY award. “It wasn’t going to be fair to ask the finalists to travel (to the convention) during the pandemic,” Webster said. It was decided to not choose a 2020 award winner and instead allow the past 14 OOTY winners to pick a charitable organization in their community to receive a donation from AGCO. The response AGCO received from those previous award winners was positive and heartfelt. “The reception was really good in pivoting this year,” Webster said.
The past OOTY award winner’s organization of their choosing received a $2,000 donation this fall. The only stipulation from AGCO was that it had to be a charitable organization in the community. “We saw some great organizations benefited,” Webster said.
Matt Missling, applicator and 2007 OOTY from Crystal Valley Co-op in Madelia, Minn., chose the Madelia FFA chapter as recipient of the AGCO donation in his honor.
According to Cole Kottke, regional operations manager of Crystal Valley Co-op, Missling was thrilled when AGCO contacted him with this opportunity to choose an organization to receive this donation. “Missling has been with Crystal Valley Co-op as a custom applicator for over 20 years,”
Missling was part of FFA when he was in high school and experienced first-hand the opportunities available through being a part of the organization. “He really has a passion for agriculture. It didn’t take him long to figure out who to give the money to,” Kottke said.
There’s a longing across the country to go back to the way things used to be before the pandemic, but there’s one thing Webster hopes won’t change — the new giving component of OOTY. “There’s so many great organizations in these small communities,” Webster said.
The chance to give to these deserving charitable organizations this year has sparked something special that Webster would like to see continue in the years to come. He looks forward to the OOTY award recognition next year at the ARA convention; and with that, there’s a possibility of giving the OOTY finalists the chance to choose an organization to receive a donation from AGCO.
‘Tis the season for giving, which seems to be more important now than ever before. AGCO’s donations to 14 charitable organizations across the country in this challenging year has certainly spread a little holiday cheer.