Area duo inducted into South Dakota Cooperative Hall of Fame
Two area men – Dale Locken of Akaska and Kermit Pearson of Lake City – were inducted into the South Dakota Cooperative Hall of Fame during the Co-op Month Banquet and Induction Ceremony Sept. 11 at The Lodge at Deadwood, S.D.
Induction into the South Dakota Cooperative Hall of Fame is the highest honor that the cooperative community can bestow on those whose endeavors in the cause of the cooperative form of enterprise have been genuinely heroic.
Dale Locken, Agtegra Cooperative
Locken served as the CEO of South Dakota Wheat Growers Association (now Agtegra Cooperative) from 2002 to 2017. Locken grew up in rural South Dakota on a farm and received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D.
As SDWGA CEO, he had the vision, personal commitment, innovative thought and leadership to always pursue the next step to maintain the relevance of the cooperative system in South Dakota. Under his leadership, he saw the need for a merger with North Central Farmers Elevator (which occurred shortly after he stepped down as CEO). While at the helm at Wheat Growers, he developed the cooperative’s strong safety culture, established the Connecting to Tomorrow Initiative to improve grain handling systems at 12 SDWG locations, established the Growing for Tomorrow Initiative which upgraded 15 locations to expand capacity in both grain handling and agronomy and led construction of the Kennebec Facility, which involved rehabilitation of the railroad line along with construction of a new facility.
He applauded innovation and its relevance in technology and precision agriculture.
“Under Dale’s leadership, Wheat Growers grew to become on of the largest farmer-owned cooperatives in the country and a national leader among cooperatives,” wrote Hal Clemensen, president of Agtegra Cooperative. “I am completely confident that Dale’s impact on South Dakota agriculture and his influential role in guiding cooperative values will endure for generations.”
Kermit Pearson, Lake Region Electric Association
First elected to the Lake Region Electric Association board of directors in 1980, Kermit Pearson has spent the last 38 years as a dedicated leader of electric cooperatives. By 1989, Pearson would be selected to represent LREA on the East River Electric Power Cooperative board and from there, in 1997, would become East River’s voice on the Basin Electric Power Cooperative board. In 2013, he was selected to represent Basin Electric on the South Dakota Rural Electric Association board of directors.
Under Pearson’s leadership, LREA, East River and Basin Electric have engaged in innovative and visionary programs to best serve their members. He works to ensure that decisions made at the Basin Electric level are in the best interest for the regional East River Electric membership and local Lake Region Electric membership.
“He embraces and promotes the new innovations that benefit the membership,” wrote LREA manager Tim McIntyre. “...his commitment to community and the membership shines as he inspires development and growth within each community.”
Basin Electric CEO Paul Sukut, wrote “Basin Electric’s board members hold the important role of representing each level of our cooperative’s multi-tier system. Kermit, in particular, puts that perspective to work by ensuring that decisions made at the Basin Electric level are in the best interest for the regional East River Electric membership and local Lake Region Electric membership.”
Pearson owns the Pearson Gelbvieh Cattle Company in partnership with his brother, Neal, on land that their grandfather homesteaded in the early 1900s east of Britton. He is a graduate of SDSU.