Steve Willardsen, retired president of Cargill Value Added Meats, was presented with the 2013 Turkey Leader of the Year award for a lifetime achievement of leadership and dedication to the turkey industry at The Poultry Federation's Annual Turkey Committee meeting in Branson, Mo. Cargill's Jason Witt made the presentation on behalf of the Turkey Committee.
Witt spoke about the integrity, leadership and knowledge that Willardsen exemplified during his career in the turkey industry, including the strong and positive management influence that Willardsen had on many employees at Cargill.
Willardsen was raised on his family farm where they had turkey and sheep. When asked how long Willardsen has been in the turkey industry, he answered since he was a newborn baby. He further explained that after leaving the hospital as a newborn baby, his mother and father made a stop at their farm and counted and checked their turkeys before bringing him home.
Marvin Childers, president of The Poultry Federation, spoke at the awards presentation and announced that Willardsen is receiving the designation of a lifetime member of The Poultry Federation of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Willardsen was the National Turkey Federation's chairman of the board of directors in 2012. At Cargill Value Added Meats, Willardsen was responsible for U.S. turkey operations and the cooked meats business.
Prior to his role at Cargill, he was chief operating officer for Rocco Enterprises Inc., where he was responsible for the turkey and chicken businesses in Virginia and North Carolina. He also held the position as complex general manager for Cargill's California, Mo., plant.