Ag alumni honored with 2023 Livestock Leader Award

Portrait photos a two people in business attire.

The Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University has announced Marlin Eisenach and Leann Saunders as the recipients of their annual Livestock Leader Award, which recognizes outstanding individuals for their contribution to the livestock industry. The awards will be presented at a reception on January 14 during the National Western Stock Show at the Terra building on the CSU Spur campus in Denver. Registration for the 2023 Livestock Leader Reception is available here.

Marlin Eisenach

Marlin grew up on a family farm near Fort Morgan, Colorado growing corn, alfalfa hay, sugar beets and small grains as well as operating a cattle feedlot. A CSU alumnus, he has dedicated his life to the agricultural and livestock industries, serving as a Livestock Superintendent at the Colorado State Fair and the National Western Stock Show for more than 30 years. Marlin was the National Pork Board’s quality assurance trainer for 12 years in Colorado and currently works with beef, dairy, sheep, and goat quality assurance programs.

“Marlin has been a mainstay in Colorado Agriculture and youth development for over 35 years as a volunteer and an Extension agent,” said animal sciences department head Keith Belk. “His commitment to and passion for youth with interests in livestock production are second to none. His commitment to CSU is undeniable and his efforts to recruit Colorado youth into CSU programs have had a huge impact.”

Marlin has mentored countless youth that participate in the 4-H and FFA programs and has judged numerous livestock shows at the county, state, and national levels. One of his most memorable experiences was when he judged the first dairy cattle show ever in Kenya, Africa in 2005.

Leann Saunders

Leann is the co-founder, a member of the board of directors and Chief Operating Officer of Where Food Comes From, Inc., the leading provider of livestock identification, traceability services and on-farm third-party verification and certification services in North America.

Leann and her husband John founded IMI Global, which later grew into Where Food Comes From, out of their Platte City, Missouri apartment basement in 1995. The company enables farmers, ranchers, growers, feeders, packers and processors to meet specific export or private brand label requirements related to production practices. This helps build trust among consumers who can feel assured that they are getting what they pay for.

In 2018, Leann was named a distinguished alumna of the College of Agricultural Sciences and she and John were major contributing donors to the JBS Global Food Innovation Center in Honor of Gary & Kay Smith.

“Leann makes lives better everywhere that she has been—she epitomizes CSU’s values!” said Belk.

Beyond her impact on livestock agriculture, Leann continues to serve her community including co-founding the Castle Rock Summer Jam, a local concert series that benefits area nonprofits and provides scholarships to music students in Douglas County, Colorado.

About the Livestock Leader award

Beginning in 1960, the Department of Animal Sciences initiated an annual award to honor an outstanding individual in the livestock industry. The designation was called the Stockman of the Year, and a portrait of the individual was hung in the Animal Sciences Building. This award was last presented in 1976. In 1986 a similar award was initiated and termed the Livestock Leader Award. For more about the award, visit here.