Seed World

AOSCA celebrates MCIA’s Roger Wippler with Honorary Lifetime Membership

Minnesota Crop Improvement Association (MCIA)’s foundation manager Roger Wippler honored at AOCSA’s AGM. 

Each year, the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) celebrates the long-time and substantial efforts of one or two seed industry members via an Honorary Lifetime Membership Award.

The award, which has been presented since 1946, is important to AOSCA “as it is a way we can show appreciation for those whom have dedicated their career to the certified seed industry,” says Sarah Wilbanks, AOSCA’s CEO. 

This year, AOSCA was pleased to present an Honorary Lifetime Membership Award to Minnesota Crop Improvement Association (MCIA)’s foundation manager, Roger Wippler. 

At the awards ceremony, held during AOSCA’s annual general meeting, North Dakota State Seed Commissioner, Ken Bertsch, described Wippler’s lifetime in agriculture and seed with the following biography:

Wippler grew up on a 30-acre hobby farm near Randall, MN. When he and his other siblings were old enough, his mom would ‘farm’ them out to help the neighbors pick rocks, stack bales or milk cows. The kids also farrowed sows and sold feeder pigs as FFA projects.

Wippler was very involved in FFA in high school and continued to pursue agriculture by going to Central Lakes College to study Landscape and Horticulture. His next step was attending the University of Minnesota where he received a degree in Ag Education. 

Being a top-notch student in grain grading and crop seed identification, he was asked by the University of Minnesota’s Crop Judging Team advisor to join the team. The team went on to become national champions. He didn’t yet know how much this training would come in handy for his future career.

After graduating from the U of MN, Wippler taught one year of high school agriculture before returning to the campus to pursue a master’s degree. While working on this degree in 1989, he was offered the foundation manager position with MCIA. 

In his position with MCIA, he’s driven thousands of miles and walked hundreds more to check out each year’s foundation seed production fields. He says his favorite part of the job is talking to colleagues, customers and industry representatives.

Wippler’s other roles at MCIA include: editor of the Seed Grower publication and other marketing materials, working with the University on promoting U of MN varieties, U of MN variety licensing, and – in a nod to how much he truly loves the process of growing and nurturing plants – tending the garden behind the MCIA building. 

Wipper and his wife Cindy have been married for almost 37 years and worked together at MCIA for 30 of those years.

Several of Wippler’s colleagues wrote letters of support for his nomination. Among those words were these messages:

“Roger takes advantage of every opportunity to share his vast knowledge base and experience through a variety of channels, most notably by serving as a guest lecturer both at a community college as well as at the Dept. of Agronomy & Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota, and through informal engagement with countless visitors each year at the MN State Fair. In addition, Roger also serves as the auditor of several MCIA publications.” Dr. Fawad Shah, CEO and President, Minnesota Crop Improvement Association.

“Roger’s experience with, and dedication to, foundation seed production makes him a reliable resource for certifying agencies and seedsmen alike. Roger’s amiable personality and his fluidity with conversation belie a very sharp intellect. We have seen multiple occurrences in AOSCA meetings of Roger posing a question or a what-if scenario that was highly relevant to the discussion but was not obvious until he stated it…he’s always been there, and he’s always been willing and able to provide assistance or guidance when requested. We’ve enjoyed having Roger as a good neighbor and a good friend.”  Jim Rouse, director of the Iowa Crop Improvement Association and AOSCA board member (Northern region).

As Ken Bertsch said upon presenting the Honorary Lifetime Membership Award on behalf of AOSCA, Wippler’s “contributions to AOSCA and MCIA have been hugely impactful and have positively affected so many.”