The late Arizona cotton producer Charles “Charlie” Youngker is the recipient of the 2008 Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award.
The announcement was made during the recent 2009 National Cotton Council (NCC) annual meeting. Accepting the award on behalf of the family were his son, Chuck Youngker, and his daughter, Susan Truax.
The annual award, established in 1997, is named for Oscar Johnston, whose vision, genius, and tireless efforts were foremost in the organization and shaping of the NCC 71 years ago.
The award is presented to an individual, now deceased, who served the cotton industry through the NCC over a significant period of their active business career. The award also recognizes those who exerted a positive influence on the industry and who demonstrated character and integrity as well as perseverance and maturation during that service.
Youngker, the 10th individual to be honored with the award, was involved for more than six decades in his family’s agribusinesses in Buckeye, Ariz. He was considered a Western pioneer who contributed to the cotton industry’s development in his native state and who was known for hard work and dedication.
Youngker moved from Arizona to Iowa to finish school, graduating from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, with a bachelor's degree in Economics. In 1942, after beginning graduate studies at Stanford University, he returned to Arizona where he began his long, successful career in agriculture.
In addition to managing the family’s farming operations in three areas of the state, he also was president and a 28-year member of the Roosevelt Irrigation Board and a 20-year member of the Rainbow Valley Irrigation Board. He also served as president and board chairman of the Arizona Cotton Growers Association.
In 1972, Youngker was elected the NCC’s 21st president. The year was marked by efforts to improve communications between Cotton Incorporated and the NCC and to spur the development of basic research on byssinosis.
Before becoming NCC president, Youngker represented Arizona on the first Producer Steering Committee and was active in the formation of the Cotton Producers Institute – the predecessor to Cotton Incorporated.
In addition, he was a significant contributor to the NCC’s Washington office and played an important leadership role in that effort’s fund-raising.