Long-time advocates, biodiesel friends, and industry movers and shakers headline the recipients of the 2021 “Eye on Biodiesel” awards. These honors, awarded annually by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), recognize a prominent group of longstanding champions who made significant contributions to the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry. The forward-thinking and ambition demonstrated by the honorees helped biodiesel “RISE” into the industry it is today.
“This year NBB selected a group of winners who have proven integral to the growth and development of the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry. Our industry and association would not have seen the success in this market without their immense passion, support, and dedication,” said NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen. “We applaud and extend our many thanks to these remarkable individuals for their hard, and sometimes grinding work that positioned our industry for its monumental growth. Our Vision of 6 billion gallons by 2030 would not be possible without their many contributions.”
NBB recognized the 2021 “Eye on Biodiesel” award winners throughout the National Biodiesel Conference. The honorees are:
Kenlon Johannes “Pioneer Award”
NBB announced the renaming of its “Pioneer Award,” the association’s highest honor, after one of the most influential individuals in the industry’s history. The newly named “Kenlon Johannes Pioneer Award” will forever recognize and honor Johannes, a long-time servant of the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry. Johannes was instrumental in the initial development of the biodiesel industry in the United States, serving as the first Executive Director of the National SoyDiesel Development Board, later named the National Biodiesel Board. Since then, Johannes’ dedication to better, cleaner fuels never wavered.
He currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas Soybean Association and Administrator of the Kansas Soybean Commission. In those roles, under the direction of farmer-led boards of directors, he manages production and utilization research, domestic and international market development, and education projects for the Commission, as well as federal and state lobbying programs for the Association. After more than 30 years serving both the agriculture and biodiesel industries, Johannes will retire this spring.
Joe Jobe, President and Founder, Rock House Advisors – Kenlon Johannes Pioneer Award
Joe Jobe was announced as the first recipient of the newly-named “Kenlon Johannes Pioneer Award.” NBB recognized Jobe for his leadership and vision for the biodiesel industry during his 17 years as NBB’s CEO.
Jobe served NBB from 1997 – 2016, first as Chief Financial Officer and then as CEO. Jobe grew the association from 14 soybean grower members to a highly diverse membership representing over 200 companies across the industry’s value chain. His foresight and hard work drove the industry from a small farmer organization with an ambitious idea to commercialize an experimental fuel to the $11 billion low carbon industry that it is today, supporting over 64,000 green jobs. Over the better part of two decades, Jobe oversaw the integration of biodiesel into our nation’s energy policy through his devoted work on the Renewable Fuel Standard and biodiesel tax credit. He also worked to ensure California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) included biodiesel, leading the industry to significant growth.
Currently, Jobe is the President and Founder of Rock House Advisors, a business consulting firm specializing in energy, agriculture, transportation, automated technology, and sustainability.
Governor Kim Reynolds – Impact Award
This year’s Impact Award was presented to respected biodiesel champion, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. Governor Reynolds is committed to assuring that Iowa’s success is every Iowan’s success, and one key way she is achieving that goal is by advancing renewable fuels like biodiesel.
During her term, Governor Reynolds has been a dedicated and articulate advocate for biodiesel and renewable diesel. The Governor’s rural roots in Iowa have positioned her to be an active voice for the industry and make much needed progress at the state and federal level. Governor Reynolds has fought for a stronger, more reliable Renewable Fuel Standard, aiding in the much-desired growth of better, cleaner biodiesel.
In 2019, the Governor made strides by signing an executive order requiring all new state-owned diesel-powered vehicles to be compatible with the use of at least 20% biodiesel. In addition, she supported significant growth of the industry through the expansion of renewable fuel infrastructure for biodiesel, including installation of biodiesel pumps at retail fuel stations in Iowa.
Gary Haer, Vice President, Special Projects, Renewable Energy Group – Inspiration Award
Gary Haer is the Vice President, Special Projects for NBB member company, Renewable Energy Group (REG). REG is the largest biodiesel producer by volume in the United States, as well as producer of renewable diesel. For more than 20 years, Haer has been at the forefront of this development in the company and biodiesel industry.
As the biodiesel industry began to take shape in early 2000, Haer served as the National Sales and Marketing Manager for biodiesel at West Central, a farm cooperative in Iowa. In 2006, Renewable Energy Group, Inc. emerged from the West Central business and Haer took the helm of the Sales and Marketing department, including market and distribution infrastructure development for national and international biomass-based diesel sales.
His tireless work and advocacy did not stop there. Haer was elected to NBB’s Governing Board in 2004 as the Secretary and worked his way to Vice Chairman and eventually Chairman of the Board. His service was momentous, and serves as a milestone, as he was the first non-farmer Chair of the NBB and led the organization during a time of the industry’s greatest growth in production and membership. In this position, Haer was a true, respected leader who was committed to the evolution of the industry and association.
Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel and renewable diesel are better, cleaner fuels that are available now for use in existing diesel engines without modification. NBB is the U.S. trade association representing the entire biodiesel and renewable diesel value chain, including producers, feedstock suppliers, and fuel distributors.