Don Villwock graduated from Purdue University in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics. He returned to his native Knox County and established a grain farming operation that today includes 2,500 acres of specialty grains, including white corn, popcorn, seed soybeans. His “hobby” of farm policy, as he calls it, has led Villwock to become active in numerous agricultural organizations and countless leadership roles.
Villwock was a member of the Indiana Ag Leadership’s first class. From 1984 to 1989, he served as Senator Richard Lugar’s Agricultural Liaison. From 1989 to 1993 he was Indiana’s State Executive Director of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS). From 1998 to 2001, he served as Vice President of Indiana Farm Bureau, and in December 2001 that organization elected him as its President. In January 2002 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Don has held leadership positions in most every organization to which he’s belonged. A glance at his resume shows that two of the primary beneficiaries of Don’s time and talent have been Farm Bureau and the Purdue School of Agriculture, two organization that he has served in numerous ways from local committees and leadership to national advocacy activities. Back in Knox County he has served as director of the Vincennes Chamber of Commerce, president of the Knox County Farm Bureau and as master of the Edwardsport Masonic Lodge. At the state level, his leadership has included, among many others: Vice Chairman of the Indiana Grain Indemnity Board and service on the board of directors of both the Indiana Soybean Growers Association and the Indiana Corn Growers Association. He chaired the Indiana Institute of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition. From 1990 to 1992 he served as president of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association, presiding over a critical transition in leadership that occurred with the retirement of longtime executive secretary Mauri Williamson. He served as Purdue’s representative on the National Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) Committee, and since 1984 he has been a trustee of the Farm Foundation’s Bennett Agricultural Roundtable. From 1997 to 2001, he served on USDA’s 21st Century Commission on Agriculture, studying agricultural policy and making recommendations for the farm bill legislation that is now being formulated in Congress.
Don’s tireless activities, mostly on behalf of agriculture, have been recognized with numerous awards. He received the Knox County Chamber of Commerce’s 2001 Community Service Award. He has been honored by the National Ag Alumni & Development Association with its Volunteer Service Award for his activities on behalf of Purdue. He was a member of the first class of our own Distinguished Agricultural Alumni. And, he’s been named a Sagamore of the Wabash, a Purdue Old Master and an Indiana Prairie Farmer Master Farmer.
Nominator Chuck Connor, now the White House advisor on agricultural policy, called Don “one of the very brightest and thoughtful minds in America today on complex food and food and farm issues” and sums up Don’s professional and personal endeavors when he said that Don is “fully dedicated to improving the lives of farmers and all who live and reside in rural America.”
Don, for your service to the agricultural profession above and beyond the call of duty, it is my pleasure to award you this day, the Purdue Ag Alumni Association’s Highest Award, the Certificate of Distinction.