2017: Terry Wolters
For Terry Wolters, the 2017 Pork Promoter of the Year, pork promotion is more than an event or a conversation; it’s a lifestyle that allows him to passionately and humbly serve his peers within the pork industry.
“It is not about me,” said Wolters. “It’s about moving our industry as a whole forward and I am humbled by the opportunity to work alongside talented men and women doing something that I love every day.”
For the past 19 years, Wolters has been employed by Pipestone System, currently serving as the Western Region Manager for Big Stone Marketing. From the very beginning, Wolters was fortunate to be mentored by industry leaders and presented with opportunities that allowed him to cultivate and deepen his passion for the pork industry.
“I am fortunate to have an employer like Pipestone System that supports and values community outreach,” said Wolters. “I stumbled into the agriculture business and could never have imagined the opportunities it could offer.”
Much of Wolters’ early pork promotion can be credited to the grassroots efforts orchestrated by the Pipestone County Pork Producers Association. Their goal was simple: teach people how to properly prepare pork so they could confidently make pork for their family.
“Its’s about making people happy,” said Wolters. “It has always been extremely fulfilling to help a family open their mind to the versatility, affordability and great taste of pork by simply giving them a sample or pork meal that has been prepared properly.”
As the volume of events increased beyond the realistic capacity of a volunteer organization, Wolters along with his wife, Sylvia, identified a real need and desire within the area for food centric community outreach.
“The events provided an opportunity to interact with community members on a one-on-one basis,” said Wolters. “We are serving and supporting our neighbors while simultaneously helping people learn to appreciate pork.”
When community members pull up to a local event and see Wolters’ cook trailer, distinctly wrapped with pork industry images, they have come to expect a delicious meal with pork at the center of the plate. In fact, year-to-date, Wolters cooked at approximately 55 events serving over 8,000 pounds of pork and 200 racks of ribs.
“If you’re doing something you love, it really isn’t work,” said Wolters. “It is about priorities and the desire to support our community.”
As the demographics and connection to the farm evolved in rural communities, Wolters’ pork promotion efforts did as well. Although product promotion continues to play an integral role in his efforts, the events are now just as much about having a conversation with consumers about how pigs are raised and what we do to raise a safe and wholesome product for their families.
“Agriculture is an important part of our rural communities,” said Wolters. “People have questions about what we do on our farms. We must not lose sight of the fact that each of these events is an opportunity to have a conversation with consumers and positively influence their perception of our industry.”
Wolters has been a leader within the state and national pork producer associations for the past 15 years. Over the years, he has been engaged in committees, the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, serving as President in 2009, and currently serves on the National Pork Producers Council Board of Directors.
Fellow industry leader and Promotion and Image Committee member, Lori Stevermer, distinctly recalls the initial discussion when considering Minnesota Pork’s Oink Outings Program. At the time, having conversations with consumers about pig farming instead of strictly product promotion was a novel concept. What was even more unique was the proposal took Minnesota pig farmers to the Twin Cities to engage in conversations about how pigs are raised.
“Approximately seven years ago, we first discussed Oink Outings,” said Stevermer. “It was an entirely new concept for our committee and Terry was able to bring experience and objectivity to the discussion. He analyzed the information, trusted his instincts and encouraged the rest of us to do the same.”
Arguably, Oink Outings proved to be one of the most successful MPB programs in evoking a positive image of the pork industry among consumers in recent times.
Wolters’ impact on pork promotion efforts in Minnesota and across the nation is undeniable but what Wolters is most proud of is his family and the relationships he forged with so many incredible people over the years.
“To me, family goes beyond home,” said Wolters. “I am blessed to have a network of people that continue to invest and believe in me.”
Wolters’ is the definition of leading by example; he has been selfless and tireless in his pork promotion efforts over the years.
“It comes down to character and the desire to move the team forward,” said Wolters. “The pork industry has a lot to be proud of and I am humbled by the opportunity to a part of it.”