MTGA Announces 2010 Allied Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

For Immediate Release
June 15, 2010
Contact: Lara Durben,

(Buffalo, MN) … One recipient has spent 37 years in the agricultural lending industry while the other is known quite simply as “a legend” in the turkey industry. Both are well-deserving of an award they received from the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) last week in Duluth, MN.

Dr. G. Yan Ghazikhanian, Aviagen Turkeys, and Roger Refling, United FCS in Willmar, MN, were each honored with the 2010 MTGA Allied Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization’s 2010 Summer Meeting.

Photo cutlines: Dr. James Trites, Elanco Animal Health, and Dr. G. Yan Ghazikhanian, Aviagen Turkeys; and Roger Refling, United FCS, and Gregg Veldman, Novus International

The award is based on several criteria:

  • Long-term service to the industry (20+ years).
  • Long-term support of the MTGA.
  • Well-respected by peers and customers.
  • Commitment to enhance Minnesota’s turkey industry.

MTGA Allied Committee Chairman Gregg Veldman, Novus International, and Dr. James Trites, Elanco Animal Health, made the awards presentation.

Dr. Yan Ghazikhanian

“Dr. Yan Ghazikhanian is a leading figure in developing and implementing some very important disease eradication and poultry health programs and is quite simply considered a “legend” in his field and in the turkey industry,” said Trites.

Dr. Ghazikhanian, who is known throughout the world as “Dr. Yan,” has served Nicholas Turkeys (now Aviagen Turkeys) and the global turkey industry for over 30 years. In 1963 Dr. Yan received his D.V.M. from the University of Tehran in Iran. He then came to the United States where he earned his Masters and Ph.D. in microbiology and pathology at the University of California at Davis. While a graduate student, Dr. Yan conducted extensive research on Mycoplasma meleagridis and Mycoplasma synoviae.

After achieving his Ph.D., Dr. Yan started his career with USDA/APHIS as head of the Diagnostic Mobile Laboratory in the Exotic Newcastle Task Force. His work in that field earned him two certificates of achievement from USDA/APHIS and the California Department of Agriculture.

In 1974 Dr. Yan joined Nicholas as a staff veterinarian and was appointed director of veterinary medicine in 1983. During his career Dr. Yan has traveled widely in customer service and is well known and appreciated for his abilities as a practical field diagnostician. He has spent many days in turkey barns around the world, working with customers to diagnose, treat and prevent health problems.

Dr. Yan also conducted research and diagnostic work for Nicholas. He was particularly instrumental in the successful program to eliminate Mycoplasma meleagridis (or “MM”) from all Nicholas breeding stock and assisted customers in the implementation of MM programs at the parent stock level. Dr. Yan also eradicated Mycoplasma iowae from Nicholas breeding stock in the early 1990’s.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Dr. Yan eradicated Salmonella arizonae from Nicholas breeding stock and led the way in developing salmonella eradication strategies at primary and multiplier breeding levels throughout the turkey industry.

Dr. Yan has served as president of the American Association of Avian Pathologists, was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to the General Conference Committee of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), and he served on the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association Research Advisory Committee.

At the University of California at Davis, Dr. Yan was made Honorary Clinical Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine in the veterinary school. In 2002 the California Poultry Federation bestowed on Dr. Yan its highest honor, The Golden Rooster award and in 2008 the American Association of Avian Pathologists granted Dr. Yan a lifetime membership.

Dr. Yan is still very active in the poultry industry, working with Aviagen and its customers on a part time basis. He and his wife Cheryl continue to reside in Sonoma, California and they have a daughter, a son and three grandchildren.

Roger Refling, United FCS

“Roger Refling is well known within the agricultural banking industry in Minnesota, having worked in a variety of capacities for Farm Credit Services for 37 years, and he has been a long-time member and supporter of both MTGA and the National Turkey Federation,” said Veldman.

Mr. Refling graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business Administration. He served in the Air Force for three years, and then started his employment career working for the Federal Housing Administration for one year before starting with Farm Credit Services.

Since 1973 Roger has worked for the Farm Credit System in a number of relationship management and administration positions. Including:

o 8 years as Branch Manager in Canby MN

o 4 years as the Vice President of Branch Operations for the Madison PCA Office

o 9 years as Special Accounts Officer for the Madison Branch of Farm Credit Services of MN Valley

o 11 years as Business Development Officer, 3 years as Sr. Credit Officer and 9 years as Vice President of Commercial Finance for Farm Credit Services of MN Valley in Willmar

o And his current position, which he has held since 2007, Vice President of AgriBusiness for United FCS in Willmar

Throughout his 37 year career with FCS, Roger has had a passion for agriculture and the customers he has served. He has been the company’s poultry expert for a number of years on staff and we are told he thoroughly enjoys working with the customers he has built relationships with.  Roger and his wife Joan have three grown children.

About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and currently headquartered in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 250 turkey farmers expected to raise approximately 45 million turkeys in 2010. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. For further details, visit


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