Bowman Family Wins 2024 Glen Brandt Prize for Ag Entrepreneurism

Category : Recognition & Awards
Posted on: March 6, 2024

Champaign, Illinois (March 5, 2024) – Andrew and Karlie Bowman, the innovative minds behind the popcorn brand Pilot Knob Farms, have won the 2024 Glen “GB” Brandt Prize for Ag Entrepreneurism, a prestigious award recognizing a grower, producer, or farmer who exemplifies an entrepreneurial spirit and advances innovation in agricultural practices and products.

2024 Glen Brandt Prize for Ag Entrepreneurism Winner

The award announcement was made today at the 2024 AgTech Summit, hosted by the University of Illinois Research Park.

Working with the University of Illinois, the Bowmans have developed new popcorn hybrids, resulting in specialty red and blue “hull-less” popcorn. The flagship popcorn product, known for its improved texture and taste, stands as a testament to their innovative commitment to enhancing the end consumer experience. They market the product behind the the line “No toothpicks required.”

The Bowmans have also pioneered an automated in-store popcorn demonstration unit. This ingenious creation broadens the reach of their product by enabling a representative-free introduction to consumers in retail environments. It’s a reflection of their forward-thinking approach to product marketing and customer engagement. See their consumer site at

Located near Oneida, Illinois, the Bowmans are fifth-generation farmers with more than 1800 acres of corn and soybean seed beans.

“Congratulations to the Bowmans,” said Karl Barnhart, VP of The BRANDT Foundation. “Pilot Knob Farm demonstrates the power of creative thinking and continuous improvement. These are the values that GB lived by and instilled into the BRANDT companies. We’re proud to recognize the Bowmans and honor GB’s legacy.”

The Glen “GB” Brandt Prize for Ag Entrepreneurism was established in 2021 by The BRANDT Foundation in partnership with the University of Illinois to honor the memory of Glen Brandt, a legendary figure in Illinois agriculture. The annual $10,000 prize rewards individuals who demonstrate exceptional creativity, vision, and a commitment to the future of agriculture.

Previous winners of the GB Prize have set a high bar for innovation and entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector. These winners include Will Glazik, Matt Riggs and Eric Miller.



A leading agricultural company with 17 retail locations in Central Illinois, BRANDT serves growers around the globe. Founded in 1953 by Glen Brandt and his sister Evelyn Brandt Thomas to help Illinois farmers adopt new and profitable technologies, the company has experienced aggressive growth under the leadership of President and CEO Rick Brandt. For more information, visit BRANDT on the web at


About the AgTech Innovation Summit 

The AgTech Innovation Summit is an interactive conference where participants learn and share knowledge about the current state of agtech and get a look into the future through dynamic panels, inspiring keynote presentations, and networking opportunities. It is produced by the University of Illinois Research Park in partnership with the College of ACES and the Office of Corporate Relations. One of the premier AgTech hubs in the nation, Champaign-Urbana is uniquely positioned to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, academics, and industry for learning, networking, and advancing this sector.