Ernest C. Olson, 70, of Lake Norden, South Dakota, is an early and longtime member of the Hamlin County Crop Improvement Association and has devoted 20 years as a 4-H leader.
For his belief in the youth of Hamlin County, for advancing farming, and for his contributions to the community, Olson received the Eminent Farmer award during the 59th annual ceremonies at South Dakota State University.
Olson was born in 1917 at Lake Norden. He was raised on a farm near there, where his parents sold seed potatoes. He graduated from South Dakota State University with a degree in ag engineering. He married Mabel Florell in 1942.
Before graduation he bought a farm near his home and there he began his farming career upon graduation by raising foundation seed and helping increase production yields on grains. He was an early member of the Hamlin County Crop Improvement Association and belonged to the organization 42 years, serving on the board of directors 14 years and holding the offices of president, vice president and treasurer over the years.
During Olson's tenure on the board a seed-cleaning operation was started, expanded and made more efficient.
Olson farmed several quarters of land and kept his interest in better varieties until his retirement in 1982. He currently rents out his land.
He also served on the County Weed Board and the County Fair Board.
His gardening is known throughout the area for his watermelons, sweet corn and cantaloupes which he gives away to those who can't raise vegetables.
The eminent farmer has an avid interest in youth and saw to it that Hamlin's young people got the best training he could provide in agriculture and leadership as a 20-year 4-H leader of the Norden Farmers 4-H Club.
While he was a leader more than 75 of Lake Norden's rural and urban boys learned and experienced Hamlin's 4-H program. Olson was always active in the county's 4-H Leader's Association, serving as its president in 1963 and as vice president later. He received the Friend of 4-H award in 1981.
His goal has been to keep the young people involved in farming and to promote the values of the Crop Improvement Association.
Olson was also active in his community, serving on the county school board for many years and township board in various offices.
The Olsons have three children, Beverlee Buenning, Lois, and Roger, who followed in their father's footsteps and attended SDSU.