Woster Penelope Janelle at CCF

Jim Woster poses with editor Janelle Atyeo and her daughter Penelope at the 2019 Clay County Fair.

When I started at the Neighbor nearly six years ago, I was introduced to Jim Woster as Mr. Agriculture. It didn’t take me long to realize his sphere of influence in the ag world and beyond.

But Jim, being the humble man that he is, never made a big deal about his connections. Instead, he made a point to take me around as a new reporter and get me acquainted with a few folks he thought I should know. We stopped by the offices of South Dakota Corn and the soybean association. Since then, he’s introduced me to many more people in the ag world and nudged me to cover many important topics. And they say associate editor is an honorary title.

This summer, I’m sadly missing out on a few special trips to county fairs. The Tri-State Neighbor has a long tradition of pairing up Woster and the editor for an adventurous trip over to the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa. The last couple years, I’ve had my young Penelope join us, too. Jim jokes that she shows him up by being the more popular one at the Tri-State Neighbor booth, but that could never be. Cuter, perhaps, but there are few more well known in this corner of farm country than Jim Woster.

In this issue you’ll find a few thousand words dedicated to our dear associate editor. You might have heard he has a big birthday. Jim Woster turns 80 on July 31.

It’s been fun for me to talk to so many folks about how they know Jim and learn a few funny stories. It’s been inspiriting, to say the least, hearing the kind words they have to say about him.

He’s an all-around good guy, and he would do anything for anybody. I was reminded of that when the state senator from Brookings, V.J. Smith, told of the day he asked Jim to help out with the Beef Bowl football game at South Dakota State University.

Smith was working at SDSU to develop its athletic department, and his task was to drum up support for the Beef Bowl football game. He knew the man to ask.

Smith drove down to the Sioux Falls Stockyards, where he found Jim Woster in the corral with his whip. When he told him on the spot that he wanted to make him chairman of the Beef Bowl, Woster’s response was one he’s said many times to many causes:

“Absolutely. Whatever you need, I’ll help.”

How lucky we all are that those words are so often on the tip of his tongue. Happy Birthday, Jim! Enjoy your day!

Janelle is editor of the Tri-State Neighbor, covering South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, northwestern Iowa and northeastern Nebraska. Reach her at jatyeo@tristateneighbor.com or follow on Twitter @JLNeighbor