One of America’s top farm broadcasters and market reporters, Michelle Rook, has been recognized by the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council with the 2020 Visionary Leadership Award.
“Rook is devoted to sharing the message of agriculture through journalism. It is through these communication talents she has made significant contributions to the agriculture industry,” said Jerry Schmitz, executive director of South Dakota Soybean Association & South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. “Her sincere interest and expertise have helped audiences better understand the commitment of family farmers in producing safe food, feed, fiber, and fuel.”
Rook is the managing farm director for WNAX Radio in Yankton, South Dakota. She leads a farm department that consistently has the highest farm audience ratings in the nation, and she anchors and oversees the production of nearly 50 news, weather, and marketcasts daily.
Rook also produces and anchors Agweek TV, a half-hour agricultural news program syndicated on stations throughout the region and Canada. Rook is a freelance reporter for nationally syndicated AgDay Television and U.S. Farm Report.
She also served as a reporter and meteorologist for KTIV-TV and KMEG-TV in Sioux City, Iowa, and KSFY-TV in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Rook has reported from the fields of Brazil and the export ports in China, and she has covered the ratification of the U.S. Australia FTA from Canberra as well as farm policy from Capitol Hill.
Rook is a past president of NAFB (2006) and served on the national board for five years. She has been recognized for her journalistic excellence being named recipient of “The Doan” in 2015 for her series on the rail crisis in the Western Corn Belt. She was named NAFB Farm Broadcaster of the Year in 2008. In 2016, she received the South Dakota Governor’s Ag Ambassador Award. Rook also won the NAFB Horizon Award, NAFB Radio and Television Newscast and Marketcast Awards, numerous NAFB News Service Awards, and Associated Press recognition.
She has received media recognition from South Dakota Farm Bureau, South Dakota Soybean Association, South Dakota Corn Growers Association, South Dakota Pork Producers Council, South Dakota Farmers Union, Nebraska Agribusiness Association, and National Farmers Union.
She was named a Distinguished Alumnus by the South Dakota State University Journalism Department. She currently serves on the board of directors of South Dakota Ag and Rural Leadership.
Rook owns a video production and communications business, where she produces commercials, corporate videos, and other content focusing on agriculture. In this role she produces the Heartland Consumer Report, a TV news segment designed to help commodity organizations in the region educate consumers about agriculture.
The reports have run on KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and KTTC-TV in Rochester, Minnesota. She also conducts media-training sessions and is a regular keynote speaker and emcee at events across the country.
Rook’s agricultural roots are deeply imbedded in the upper Midwest region. She grew up on a dairy and crop farm in eastern South Dakota. She has bachelor’s degrees in dairy manufacturing and ag journalism and a master’s degree in journalism from South Dakota State University. Rook earned her broadcast meteorology degree from Mississippi State University. She was a South Dakota state FFA officer, an American FFA Degree recipient, and a national FFA officer candidate. Rook also was involved in 4-H for 11 years.
“Growing up on the farm, I always had a passion for agriculture,” explained Rook. “My goal has always been to provide farmers the news and market information they need daily to run their operations. However, with the shrinking voice of agriculture and the growing disconnect between farmers and consumers, I saw a need to provide accurate information to the general public about the industry. It is vital that consumers understand where their food comes from and why agriculture is important to the overall economy.”