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Jennie-O Turkey Store recognizes employees

WILLMAR -- Several Jennie-O Turkey Store employees from the Willmar area were recognized with Founders Awards.

The Founders Award program was inspired by and named for the company's founders -- the late Wallace H. Jerome and the late Earl B. Olson -- to carry out their beliefs in making continuous improvements so Jennie-O Turkey Store can continue to progress and grow.

Employees chosen to receive this award have been nominated by a fellow employee and then chosen by a selection committee for doing something exceptional, above and beyond their normal job responsibilities. Recipients receive a plaque and an award item.

Tammy Ahrendt works at the Willmar corporate office as a switchboard operator. She has been with Jennie-O Turkey Store for 26 years and is a true team player. She doesn't hesitate to help when the need arises, from covering some duties for a coworker on leave to helping organize a major record movement project in the absence of another coworker. Her positive attitude and willingness go to the extra mile demonstrate her high level of commitment to the team.

Abdirashid Bashir works at the Willmar Avenue Plant in the conventional cook department on days. He has worked at Jennie-O Turkey Store since 2008. He is described as a hard worker who is always willing to come in early or stay late if he's needed. He knows his job inside and out, trains new employees, and is very helpful to them. He takes great pride in his job and brings up ideas that could make jobs easier or safer.

Nancy Elliott has worked at Jennie-O Turkey Store for 27 years and is the lunch room attendant at the Willmar Avenue Plant. She was nominated for this award because she covers duties in her coworkers' absence and also took on the responsibility of training new employees in her department. She is a safety committee member and brings forward ideas to improve processes and reduce costs in her department.

Matt Robnik works in the maintenance area of the Willmar Avenue Plant. He has worked for Jennie-O Turkey Store since 2008. He has a very good understanding of the processing equipment and is one of the main "go-to" people for welding and fabrication projects. He designed and built several safety guards for various pieces of equipment and has also made other equipment improvements.

Deb Severson is a switchboard operator at the Willmar corporate office. She has worked at Jennie-O Turkey Store for 15 years. When a coworker was out on leave, Severson stepped in and took on many extra duties. She volunteered to take on even more duties in the absence of another coworker to ensure areas remained covered. Her positive attitude and willingness to help are qualities that make her a true team player.

Mike Volkenant, a 22-year employee, works at the Willmar Avenue Plant in the maintenance area. He has suggested many ideas and equipment improvements to better the process. He is a team player and is known for following up with his customers. His job knowledge, dedication, and positive attitude have earned him much respect from his customers, department employees, and peers.