Minnesota poultry industry leader Steve Olson has been named 2015 Distinguished Friend of Extension.

The award was announced recently by Extension Dean Bev Durgan, who cited Olson as a champion of the state’s poultry industry. Olson serves as executive director of four poultry-related groups: Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council, Chicken and Egg Council of Minnesota and the Midwest Poultry Federation. 

“His leadership stood out this year as producers and processors deal with the devastation brought on by highly pathogenic avian influenza,” Durgan said. “Steve and his associations worked tirelessly to inform the public and support the industry, working closely with Extension’s poultry and food safety programs.” 

The dean also credited Olson, a Minnesota 4-H alumnus, with helping create a successful 4-H poultry program during the Minnesota State Fair and county fairs after avian influenza forced cancellation of the animal exhibitions. 

“I am honored to accept this award. On behalf of Minnesota’s poultry farmers, I also recognize the leadership and education Extension has provided us not only for the past seven months, but the past 70 years,” Olson said. 

Olson has worked closely with Extension faculty and educators in his 15-plus years as a poultry industry leader. He is an alumnus of the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership program, graduating with its second class in 2004. Olson also served nine years on the Ramsey County Extension Committee.