Iowan of the Day

Since 1997, the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products partner to honor outstanding Iowans at each year’s Iowa State Fair. We look for individuals across the state who personify the greatness of Iowa with a strong work ethic, loyalty to helping others, and an exceptional sense of Iowa pride.

Every year, 10 nominees are named Iowan of the Day, receiving a special day of recognition at the Fair. As Iowan of the Day, winners receive the following:

  • Four Iowa State Fair admission tickets
  • An introduction on the Anne & Bill Riley Stage
  • Four Grandstand show tickets for their day
  • Privilege to use the Iowan of the Day golf cart for the day
  • VIP parking
  • Accommodations at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown
  • $200 cash

View a full list of the past Iowans of the Day since the program's inception in 1997.

Do you know someone who commits their life to bettering your community? Someone who deserves to be acknowledged for their efforts? Be sure they receive the recognition they deserve! Nominate your shining star by July 1 for this year’s Fair.

Download a nomination form here. Forms can also be requested by calling 515-262-3111 ext. 371. All nominations are considered for 3 years.

Nominees must be residents of Iowa. Each nomination is evaluated on a number of things, including community involvement, volunteerism, personal achievements, and involvement with youth to name a few. Nominators should provide us with supplemental materials that emphasize these areas such as testimonials, photos, newspaper articles and letters of recommendation. Any information that shows our judges the greatness of your nominee is welcomed! A sample nomination application from 2010 is available here. Or, watch our nomination video to see what to include!

Jody Reynolds – Des Moines
Jody joined the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., and worked in Vietnam and South Korea. She was among the first American women to serve in the Vietnam War - an experience that no doubt fueled her lifelong desire to always serve others. Jody and her husband Stan became involved with Variety - The Children’s Charity. The couple has devoted their lives to serving children who are sick or have special needs. Jody’s passion and drive led her to become the first female president of Variety - The Children’s Charity of Iowa and the first female president of Variety International. Jody helped raise over $100 million in her lifetime for Variety.
Carol Jebens - Delhi
Carol has been part of organizing and volunteering for the annual Easter egg hunt, blood drives and Christmas tree lightings. She also takes care of the local cemetery as well as numerous park and memorial projects. Carol has led the way for fundraising on behalf of Camp Courageous, the local fire department and EMT, and the baseball and soccer leagues in her community. Carol routinely collects food and donations for the local food pantry and gives generously to her school’s “Dollars for Scholars” program. She is also an active volunteer with “Change a Child’s Story” literacy project, which involves reading with children on Wednesday mornings and then in the evening at the public library.
Buffi Honeck – State Center
Buffi has dedicated countless hours to the improvement of State Center. She serves as a board member of the Gutekunst Public Library where she co-wrote a grant that provides free access to patrons of the library to several central Iowa educational/cultural sites. Buffi is a member of several civic organizations and serves on numerous boards. Most notably, Buffi has chaired the Rose Festival Board for seven years and arranged for the Bill Riley Talent Search to be at the town’s festival for the first time this year. She also holds positions on the Rose Garden Board as well as Parks and Recreation and played an important role in the procurement and installation of a splash pad at the Kauffman City Park in State Center.
Aaron Van Beek – Sioux Center
At the age of 20, Aaron had a vision to bring Honor Flights to his area. As a junior in college, he had already brought Wreaths Across America to his hometown, ensuring that no Veteran is forgotten. Aaron’s foresight and passion to give back to his American Heroes is overwhelming. The Midwest Honor Flight was accepted into the National Honor Flight Network in March of 2017. Aaron has orchestrated four successful missions so far, serving over 300 Veterans. The details and logistics that go into an honor flight is a massive undertaking. He volunteers approximately 200 hours every month just with this project. Aaron is also heavily involved as a volunteer with Boy Scouts, Sons of the American Legion and Wreaths Across America.
Kelsey Bumsted – Solon
Kelsey is an exemplary role model and prominent leader in her small town of Solon, Iowa who endlessly volunteers for the betterment of her community and its residents. Kelsey is “ALL IN” for Solon Community Schools and has served in many different capacities from PTO treasurer, or working at the book fair, to volunteering as a resource for Kindergarten round up, all for the success of Solon Community School District. In addition to her support of the school, Kelsey is known for her work and efforts for making Solon a better place to live. She is active within the community by serving on the Parks and Recreation Board. In doing so, she has been instrumental in breaking ground for Solon’s new Splash Pad and Batting Cages.
Warren Van Dyke – Greene
Warren has always believed strongly in supporting his community and church. Through the years he has helped with the first and second “Good Old River Days” festival, held positions as state director and president of the Iowa Jaycee’s, served as a board member on Lake Odessa Duck’s Unlimited and started a Pheasant Forever chapter in Lousia County. Having a passion for education, Warren served for six years on the school board. He also donated to flood relief in Greene County with the Butler County Pork Promoters, an organization that Warren has been a proud member of for 20+ years. The pork promoters also give donations to local food banks and gives out scholarships in their community.
Richard McClure - Sidney
Dick retired in 2000 after working for the ISU Extension Service for 43 years. During those years, he took 4-Hers to Washington D.C. 12 times to attend the Citizenship/Washington Focus learning experience. Dick received the Iowa State Fair Hall of Fame award in 2005, recognizing a person for their contributions to the 4-H program. He also started Two County Dusters Equestrian Drill Team. During retirement Dick was part of a food grade corn corporation called Quality Iowa Maize (QIM). He has also been a member of the local Masons and Shrine organizations. Lastly, Dick is a member of the Home Town Pride organization and Chairman of the Boot project.
Pat and Nancy Corkrean - Winterset
Pat and Nancy Corkrean are truly pillars of Madison County. They are successful entrepreneurs, leaders of several non-profit organizations in Madison County and are primarily responsible for St. Joseph Catholic Church having a new building with room for expansion. As the Corkrean’s business ventures succeeded, their amount of community investment increased. Most of the new housing built in the Winterset area are Corkrean homes. Winterset’s new hotel is also a product of their efforts; even the local photos in the rooms were taken by Nancy. Pat and Nancy also played a critical part in the organization and fundraising efforts to open the John Wayne Birthplace Museum and the Iowa Quilt Museum.
Mary (Kimberly) Rueter - DeWitt
Retired from her position as general manager and managing editor of her community newspaper, the (DeWitt) Observer, Mary had a career of more than 41 years. Her experience in the newspaper field cultivated an interest in transparency and openness in government as well as the need for freedom of information. Mary has a long history of volunteerism, ranging from 16 years as a member of the Mississippi Bend AEA board of directors and long-time service on local education and hospital foundations. She also served on the DeWitt Chamber and Development Company’s board of director’s committee and was president of the Iowa Newspaper Foundation.
Vicki Lage - Perry   
Vicki was the Perry representative for Youth for Understanding (YFU) for eight years in the 1990s. As a volunteer, she recruited host families for foreign exchange students in the local school district and helped plan activities for the students and families in her area. The Lage family also hosted four students themselves. In 2000, Vicki became involved with the Iowa State Fair and the Blue Ribbon Foundation. She was active with the planning of the Corndog Kickoff Benefit Auction as well as volunteering at the Fair. Above are just a few highlights of Vicki’s life as a volunteer. More recently, Vicki has spent hours serving at local businesses including the Lutheran Home, Spring Valley Assisted Living Facility, Hotel Pattee, and La Poste.

Sheri Avis Horner, West Des Moines   
Lifelong supporters of the Fair, Sheri and the late Bob Horner have made countless contributions to keep the Fairgrounds in top-notch condition. In 2013 the Robert G. Horner and Sheri Avis Horner Service Center was named to show appreciation for their support. Sheri has been involved with other organizations around the Metro including DMACC, Unity Point and the Festival of Trees. 


Ron Hunerdosse, Fairfield   
Ron organizes Christmas baskets for the citizens of Fairfield, spending countless hours in the warehouse putting together food boxes and organizing volunteers to deliver the baskets. Ron has been recognized within the Fairfield community as Fairfield’s Citizen of the Year, as one of Fairfield’s Friends of Education and Fairfield’s Teacher of the Year. Above all, Ron has been a courageous coach- always encouraginand inspiring his athletes. One former athlete wrote to Coach ‘Dosse,’ “I can’t describe how thankful I am that I had the pleasure of having you as a coach. You impacted my self-confidence majorly.”


Deb Kosters, Sibley   
Deb organizes semi-monthly meetings for young moms, opening her home before Christmas, serving tea and decorating cookies. This is a support system and a safe place for moms to come together in the community with any concerns that they may have. Deb also delivers homemade meals for families and shut-ins whenever the need arises. She is committed to the high school band, vocal music and speech- always stepping in to ensure that students have the opportunity to do their best. Deb has also been an active 4-H leader and State Project Superintendent. 


Gayle Bortz, Chariton   
Gayle continually gives a voice to those who are less fortunate. She is an advocate for people with intellectual disabilities through Mosaic, a lay spiritual director at First Lutheran Church and a member of Lutheran Lakeside Camp. As a speech pathologist, Gayle has taken her speech and language talents further and helps the sick and elderly communicate with their loved ones. On any given day you can find Gayle somewhere in the Chariton community giving of her time in a variety of ways through her involvement as a Lucas County Health Center Ambassador or in the Chariton Chamber of Commerce, Homestead Assisted Living, Kiwanis, the Lucas County Arts Council and the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign.


Howard Hammond, Slater   
Howard served this great country through the Army ROTC and in the Korean War. Howard has also served his community as a city council man and mayor. While serving on the Ballard Community School Board, he was dependable and had great vision on building projects. A community minded individual, Howard organized an alliance of individuals for a South Story co-hort group.  Howard was instrumental to the development of the Slater Pool and helped establish the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail. Unexpectedly, Howard passed away after being notified of this honor. Accepting the award on his behalf is Mark and Ellen Hammond. 


Gary Fulton, Marshalltown   
Gary has dedicated countless hours to the betterment of his community. Serving for more than 20 years on the Marshalltown Trees Forever/Branching Out Committee, Gary plants trees every spring and fall. He also coordinates a children’s garden every year at Pilgrim Heights, helping kids plant, care for, and harvest vegetables to be used for meals during the camps that are held there. Gary also volunteers at the Iowa State Fair! He has helped to set up, judge and take down the horticulture building. Gary has been volunteering with the Iowa Veteran’s Home since 2011. He accompanies residents to all sorts of activities, including meals on and off-site, music programs, the barnyard and the tractor show.

Keith Carlson, Stratford   
Moving to Stratford in 1976, Keith has gone above and beyond to make his small community a better place. A long-time agriculture advocate, Keith provides information on animal care, soil conservation, and food safety to the agri-food system, including McDonald’s and Costco. He has served on the Iowa Soybean Promotion Board for 6 years, Stratford Lions Club, Main Street and the Hamilton County SEED Revolving Loan Fund. In the 1990’s, Keith spear-headed the effort to build a 20-unit apartment building for senior citizens in Stratford. More than $1.3 million was raised to construct Athens Woods Estate, now a nursing home.

Ralph Hodson, Ackworth   
Raising his family on a farm in Ackworth, Ralph instilled the values of responsibility, time management, and the rewards of hard work into each of his sons. He continues to lead by example, always willing to be a mentor to young people as they strive to succeed. Ralph was the Be-Square 4-H leader for 17 years. He served two terms on the Warren County Extension Council and Warren County 4-H Committee. For nearly a decade he has been a livestock buyer for DeeZee Manufacturing. He is a trustee of the Warren County Cemetery Association.

Sid Morris, Cedar Falls   
As a Korean Veteran, Sid was a driving force for the creation and development of the Cedar Falls Veterans Park, including four phases of fundraising. He hosted the “Veterans of Cedar Valley” cable show, where he interviewed a wide variety of veterans who shared their service stories with the public. Sid is constantly keeping veteran groups involved in the community. With 40 years of service in the Cedar Falls school district, serving on the City Council, Board of Education, Veterans Affairs Board, Board of Adjustment and as a Cedar Falls Utilities Trustee - Sid continually goes above and beyond. Currently, he is assisting with a campaign for a new high school in Cedar Falls. A commitment to volunteering- Sid has been involved with the American Red Cross, the Cedar Falls Historical Society, Goodwill Industries and more.

Brenda Lee Larkey, Low Moor   
From being a volunteer softball coach to organizing a benefit auction, Brenda has done it all! Brenda Lee was instrumental in starting “Presidents Row,” where trees are planted in Platt Park to honor the past presidents. Brenda has served on the Camanche Days board for the past 34 years and was a 4 time president. She started the diaper derby, founded and advised the Camanche Days Teen Board, started Camanche Days King and Queen, and revamped the sponsorship festival fundraiser. Brenda Lee has also served for 10 years on the Low Moor City Council and was a representative for Clinton County on the Crime stoppers committee.