The Illinois Corn Growers Association awarded two individuals with the World of Corn Award last week at the Illinois Commodity Conference.
Walt Townsend and Jerry Costello were both honored at the Bloomington meeting.
Townsend is a former University of Illinois Extension Educator and state and county Corn Growers Association leader. Costello has served as the U.S. Representative for Illinois' 12 Congressional District since 1988. He did not seek re-election this year and will be succeeded by Bill Enyart.
The World of Corn Award goes to individuals, organizations or businesses for making significant contributions to the corn industry. The special award, now in its 21st year, was created to recognize the global importance of corn, and specifically honor individual pacesetters that have made Illinois a leader in the corn industry.
Townsend worked as a University of Illinois Extension Educator starting in 1969 after earning his Bachelors of Science degree from the university in 1969. During his tenure with Extension, he served as the Illinois Corn Growers Association Extension Ex Officio Board member for six years in the 1980s, even serving as a liaison between the Illinois Corn Growers Association Board and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. He retired from Extension in 1996 as an Area Agronomy Educator.
After his retirement, he took on the job of managing the Wayne County Corn Growers Association and performed that duty for nearly 15 years.
Throughout his career, Townsend continued to operate the family grain farm in Wayne County and now enjoys semi-retirement along with his antique tractor and steam engine hobbies. Townsend and his wife, Janice, have six children, 12 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. They reside in Fairfield, IL
Costello's tenure in the House has been characterized by his results-oriented, bipartisan approach to issues. As a senior Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the second ranking Democrat on the Science, Space and Technology Committee, Costello has had a major role in writing several major pieces of legislation while focusing on improving the transportation infrastructure of our nation and his district.
Costello's partnership during the decade's long fight to upgrade locks and dams on the Mississippi River has been key. Though we still wait for success, Congressman Costello recognizes the value of the river to his agricultural and urban constituents in the 12th District and has supported efforts to secure funding throughout his tenure.
Congressman Costello and his wife Georgia have three children and eight grandchildren. They all reside near each other in the 12th District near Belleville, IL.