John Swanson began his sunflower career with his first crop in 1971 and has been growing “the gold crop” for over 45 years, even into his retirement. He has been involved with many different aspects of the sunflower industry, starting with Dahlgren & Co. in 1971 as a production fieldman. He also worked as the domestic and international salesman of edible sunflower, the new product development manager, and finally the general manager of the planting seed division. In 1993, when the Dahlgren seed division was sold, Swanson joined Croplan Genetics (Land O’Lakes) where he worked until retirement as the first and only sunflower product manager. During his career with both companies, he tackled all the production issues facing sunflower; he helped develop planter plates, determined which herbicides and insecticides worked best, looking into pollinator problems, and spent endless years working with other researchers tackling the impact of diseases such as rust, downy mildew, and Sclerotinia. Swanson served on the National Sunflower Association’s Board of Directors for 12 years. He served as the board’s secretary/treasurer and, even after retiring, Swanson continues to serve as the chairmain of the Minnesota Sunflower Council. He has also served ont he National Canola Association board and has been actively involved with the Minnesota Wheat Growers, Minnesota Corn Growers, Minnesota Soybean Growers, and Farm Bureau. His service has extended beyond agricultural organizations -- Swanson has served on his church council and as a board member for the Fair Meadow Nursing Home. Swanson lives on his family farm near Mentor, MN.