Funded by the Illinois Soybean Association checkoff program.


Master Adviser Award

ISA created the CCA Soybean Master Adviser award in 2016 as part of its mission to help Illinois soybean farmers be the most knowledgeable and profitable soybean producers in the world. The award acknowledges the significant role Illinois Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) play in improving soybean production by offering insight and advice on practices to improve yield and profitability. Any Illinois CCA whose certification is active, is interested and involved in soybean management, and works with farmers can be nominated for the Soybean Master Adviser award.

Nominations for the 2024 CCA Soybean Master Adviser Award will be open in Fall 2023.

2023 Winner

John Pike lives in Marion, IL and operates Pike Ag, LLC, providing agronomic consulting and contract research services for the agriculture industry. He is the Southern IL Coordinator for the Nutrient Research Education Council (NREC) nitrogen management research conducted by the IL Fertilizer and Chemical Association and also involved in various cover crop research projects and educational efforts. He was formerly Crop Sciences Superintendent and Research Agronomist for the University of Illinois at the Dixon Springs Ag Center until crop sciences research was terminated at 4 locations across the state in April 2016. Pike has continued to collaborate with staff at U of I, Southern IL University and University of Kentucky to maintain research capacity in So. Illinois related to nutrient management and water quality along with other industry research and product testing related to corn, soybean and wheat production. He was a U of I Extension Educator from 2001 to 2012 concentrating on aspects of valueadded agriculture and specialty crop marketing. He has also worked as a program specialist at Southern IL University, served as agronomy instructor at Lake Land College in Mattoon, IL and worked as Certified Crop Specialist/CCA for FS/GROWMARK IL member companies in Piatt and Christian Co. 

Jennifer Jones


Jennifer Jones, Effingham, IL. Jones is the Research Agronomist for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA). She works on behalf of Illinois soybean farmers in the development and the implementation of conservation agricultural research and outreach programs. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a minor in Crop and Soil Management, and a Master of Science degree in Agronomy from Purdue University. She is a Certified Crop Adviser with the 4R Nutrient Management Specialty certification.


Randy Niver, Potomac, IL. Niver has been a CCA since 2012 and works as a Technical Agronomist for DEKALB and Asgrow in East Central Illinois. He received his bachelor’s degree in Ag Systems Management from The Ohio State University in 2007, and his master’s degree in Crop Science from the University of Illinois in 2009.


Brendan Marshall, Monmouth, IL. Marshall helps soybean producers fine-tune their management decisions as a crop specialist for West Central FS, Inc., where he provides value-added sales and service of crop inputs including fertilization, crop protection, seed products and technical services to soybean farmers. Marshall has been a Certified Crop Adviser for 27 years and is a committed member of his community, supporting local FFA chapters by providing products for the Agricultural Education Experience Program that helps students learn about soybean best management practices.

Marshall earned a degree in agriculture from Western Illinois University in 1989. Following graduation, he began his 30 plus year career in the GROWMARK FS system at Stockland FS, which later became West Central FS. It was his boss at the time who encouraged Marshall to become a CCA in addition to his status as a Certified Crop Specialist.


Kevin Nelson, Ottawa, IL. Nelson has been a CCA for 24 years and works directly with farmers to help solve soybean problems and increase profitable yields on their farms. A Joliet Junior College graduate, Nelson is a dedicated learner completing over 500 hours of continuing education credits during his career. Nelson is an independent crop consultant at New Ag Center in Monee, Illinois.


Stephanie Porter, Taylorville, IL. Porter is the Outreach Agronomist for Illinois Soybean Association. She has over 20 years of experience that consists of agronomy, conservation, horticulture, plant diagnostics, and education. She has a bachelor’s degree in crop science and master’s in plant pathology from the University of Illinois. Stephanie is a Certified Crop Advisor and was named the 2018 Illinois Certified Crop Adviser Master Soybean Advisor. She also has experience with corn and soybean pathology research, crop scouting, soil testing, as well as crop consulting. Previously, she utilized her diagnostic training and collaborated with University of Illinois departmental Extension Specialists to diagnose plant health problems and prepare written responses describing the diagnosis and management recommendations at the University of Illinois Plant Clinic. During the last 10 years, she has worked within the seed industry as an agronomist and soybean product manager.

Kris Ehler


Kristofer Ehler, Thomasboro, Ill. Ehler advises farmers as part of his sales and agronomy role at Ehler Brothers Seed, a 50-year-old family business serving East Central Illinois. A CCA since 2002, Ehler calls himself a “soybean nerd” due to his passion for achieving high yields. He encourages growers to plant full-season soybean varieties, conducting yield trials to demonstrate how early planting can increase yields by as many as eight bushels per acre.

Dave Rahe Excellence in Soils Consulting Award

The Dave Rahe Excellence in Soils Consulting award is an accolade given to one Illinois CCA nominated for their excellence in soils consulting within Illinois soybean production systems, named in honor of former CCA Soy Envoy, Dave Rahe.

Rahe was an ISA CCA Soy Envoy in 2019 and was passionate about soil management, having spent the majority of his career specializing in the field. He passed away suddenly in April 2020, but during his year as a CCA Soy Envoy, Dave authored blogs for ILSoyAdvisor covering topics such as soil compaction, micronutrient management, cover crops, and more.

Nominations for the 2024 Dave Rahe Excellence in Soils Consulting Award will open in Fall 2023.

2023 Winner

Janette Porter of White Heath, IL grew up on a family farm in Pike County, IL. She graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil sciences in 2010. Janette began working as an agricultural consultant in 2011. David Rahe and Janette formed RPM Soils in February 2016 where they shared management of the company until Dave’s sudden passing in April of 2020. She has also been employed part-time with Bradshaw Custom Pumping since 2010. There she is involved with GPS coordinating and sending out as-applied maps and nutrient analysis to clients for their manure applications. She is a Certified Crop Adviser and a member of the Illinois Soil Classifiers Association where she assists in classifying soils for possible septic sites. Janette says that Dave was a great mentor and friend and they spent many hours riding in his truck or sitting alongside a picnic table discussing soils, crops, and mostly life. She enjoys continuing on in his honor to help farmers manage their soil and make informed decisions. Janette lives in White Heath, IL with her husband Matt and four year old daughter Brynnlee. 


Dan Schaefer, Tolono, IL. Schaefer is the Director of Nutrient Stewardship for the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association. Prior to joining IFCA in 2012, Dan spent 30 years in the ag retail business as an agronomist and plant manager for Illini FS, working directly with growers on improving their yields through agronomic practices and recommendations, and assisting the University of Illinois with onfarm research to improve nutrient efficiency. Dan has a Master of Science degree in Agronomy from the University of Illinois. He is a Certified Professional Agronomist, a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) and a 4R Nutrient Management Specialist. Illinois Farm Bureau named Dan CCA of the Year in 2010.


G. Kelly Robertson, Benton, IL. Robertson is Owner and Lead Agronomist at Precision Crop Services, LLC, a Certified Professional Agronomist, and has been a CCA since 1994. His territory covers south of I-70 in Illinois and into southern Indiana. Robertson received his bachelor’s degree in 1987 and his master’s degree in 2005 from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He obtained his 4R Nutrient Management Specialty and was named the Illinois CCA of the year in 2016. Robertson also served as a CCA Soy Envoy where he wrote articles focused on double crop methods.