MTGA Announces 2011 Ranelius Award Recipient



For immediate release

Contact: Lara Durben – (763) 682-2171 or

Photo – Russ Christianson

(Buffalo, MN )… The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) presented its prestigious Ranelius Award to Russ Christianson, General Manager of Northern Pride Cooperative in Thief River Falls, Minn., at its annual meeting on March 16 in St. Paul.

“The Ranelius Award is the most prestigious honor given by the MTGA,” said Kent Meschke, 2010-11 MTGA President. “It signifies leadership and dedication to the industry based on contributions made to enhance Minnesota’s turkey industry, and Russ Christianson is well deserved of this special honor.”

In relaying Christianson’s life story, MTGA Executive Director Steve Olson had this to say: “I’ve learned that sometimes life experiences help you learn what to do by teaching you what you don’t want to do. From reading Russ’s biography, that appears to be the case for this year’s Ranelius recipient.”

Christenson is a native of North Dakota, and his early work experience included a couple of jobs that appear to have pointed him in another direction.  One was in the oil fields, the other lasted for two days – working the line in a Jennie-O processing plant.  Those experiences helped direct him to pursue a degree in accounting from the University of North Dakota.

After working for an accounting firm in the Twin Cities for a few years, he and a partner opened a firm in Thief River Falls.  In 1989, he switched gears, went back to the turkey industry, and accepted the position of General Manager of the Northern Pride Cooperative in Thief River.  This is a title that he will hold until May 1 of this year when he will officially begin his retirement.

In addition to his professional career he has been active in his community.  He has served as a director and President of the Thief River Falls Chamber of Commerce; a member and Commander of the American Legion; and past Chairman of the local Ducks Unlimited Chapter.

“On behalf of MTGA, I want to thank Russ for his service and dedication to Minnesota’s turkey industry,” said Olson.

The Ranelius Award is named for Sven Ranelius, a founding father of the MTGA, often described as a quiet, unselfish person who was very dedicated to the turkey industry in

Minnesota. Nominees are evaluated on two central criteria: their contribution to the industry over a period of time; and the quality of that contribution.

For more information on the MTGA or its Ranelius Award program, please contact Lara Durben at 763/682-2171 or


About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located 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 raising approximately 45 million turkeys in 2010. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. For further details, visit

Photo cutline: 2010-11 MTGA President Kent Meschke and Russ Christianson.

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