MTGA Announces Unsung Hero Award Recipients

2016 Unsung Heroes Award | Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

University of Minnesota MCROC Staffers in Willmar, Minn. Honored

(BUFFALO, MN) –  Cristian Flores Figueroa and Jeannette Munoz Aguayo – technicians with the University of Minnesota’s MidCentral Outreach Center (MCROC) in Willmar, Minn. – were awarded the inaugural Unsung Heroes Award at the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) Summer Conference last week in Duluth, Minn. Cristian and Jeannette were recognized for their development of an early Avian Influenza (AI) detection tool. By sampling the drinking water in turkey barns, this technique is able to pick up the virus two to three days before clinical signs show up in a flock. Cristian and Jeannette’s contributions and research has greatly improved early detection of AI in flocks.

Said MTGA Executive Director Steve Olson, “These two scientists were able to take a molecular biology laboratory from a handful of samples per day to hundreds in a very short time. They opened their lab to our industry and have run a plethora of emergency samples at all hours of the day and worked countless weekends. We are grateful for their expertise and many hours of service.”

About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, Minn., 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 450 turkey farmers raising approximately 45 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. For further details, visit


Photo cutline: Jeannette Munoz Aguayo (left) and Cristian Flores Figueroa (middle), technicians at the University of Minnesota MidCentral Outreach Center receive the Unsung Heroes Award from MTGA Executive Director Steve Olson (right).