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Cooperative spirit

Life lessons from 24 years of co-op service

To honor his legacy of cooperative and board service, Stan Hanson has been inducted into the South Dakota Cooperative Hall of Fame.
Amy Sitze
Oct 18, 2022

In 2015, Stan Hanson started taking a photo of the sunrise every morning.

Though he enjoyed the changing colors, that wasn’t why he brought his camera outside to capture the moment each day began. “I just wanted to see it,” he says. “Every day is a good day when I wake up.”

After a fall from a trailer that year left him hospitalized for more than 70 days – with injuries that still affect him today – Hanson traded 1,400 acres of corn and soybeans in Garretson, S.D., for a small yard and two tomato plants in the nearby city of Sioux Falls, where he lives with his wife, Gail. His son, Ross, took the reins as the fourth generation on the family farm.

Despite the challenges he’s faced, Hanson approaches his life the same way he looks at farming. “My mom always said you have to have faith,” he says. “You can only control the things you can control and the rest you can’t worry about, so don’t let it get you down.”

That attitude served Hanson well through 24 years of leadership roles at local ag co-ops (including Garretson Cooperative, which is now part of the CHS retail business based in Brandon, S.D.), the United Soybean Board and the South Dakota Soybean Board Research and Promotions Council. His service took him to 12 countries and various parts of the U.S., where he learned about different farming techniques, shared his knowledge with other farmers and became an advocate for the many uses of soybeans.

To honor his legacy of cooperative and board service, Hanson was inducted this year into the South Dakota Cooperative Hall of Fame. In their nomination letters, his neighbors and fellow co-op members wrote about Hanson’s integrity, extensive knowledge, openness to new farming practices, strong work ethic and encouragement of the next generation of co-op leaders.

They also noted that despite his long list of accomplishments, he remains humble and focused on service to his community.

“I get great joy from serving others, whether it’s helping a neighbor do something or being on a board,” says Hanson. “I’ve been very lucky to have these opportunities.”

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