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NoCo9 Hemp Pitch and WAFBA Award Winners Exemplify Innovation, Dedication in the Hemp Industry

WAFBA Awards of Excellence

Hemp Business

NoCo9 Hemp Pitch and WAFBA Award Winners Exemplify Innovation, Dedication in the Hemp Industry

This year’s WAFBA Awards of Excellence were presented during a lively welcome reception to kick off the NoCo9 Hemp Expo at The Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs. Winners were announced to cheers and applause as industry participants gathered to celebrate the growth of the industry and its dedicated pioneers.

“I’m so glad to see everyone gathered again in the spirit of optimism and growth,” said Morris Beegle, producer of NoCo9 Hemp Expo and president of WAFBA, who presented many of the awards. “It’s great to see so many advances in the industry since last year.”

WAFBA Awards 2023:

Elevation Award (Advancing the Industry Through Impeccable Leadership)
Melissa Nelson
Someone who drives the industry forward by breaking down barriers, thus paving the way for others. They are an advocate who focuses on developing others while being committed to their own personal development. Their impact goes beyond the industry. Their values led them to influence positive change for marginalized, medically challenged or under-resourced individuals, communities and nonprofits.
2022 recipient: Carla Boyd

Community Economic Impact Award
IND Hemp
Someone who has demonstrated extraordinary stewardship by positively impacting their community through job creation and opportunity, contributing to clean-up, strengthening financial stability, inclusivity and leading by example. Dedicated to educating their community and developing bonds that will further their social impact.
2022 recipient: Melissa Nelson

Mother Earth Award (Lady of Agriculture)
Anndrea Hermann 
A woman whose entrepreneurial spirit has ushered a new era of business leaders through her skills and execution in agriculture. She is a visionary who has cultivated relationships through education, inclusivity and collaboration. Her determination and dedication support our farmers and contribute immensely to building the supply chain, making her a trailblazer and an inspiration to others.
2022 recipient: Winona LaDuke

Best New Tech Award/Tech Innovation
Global Fiber Processing — Structural Hemp Block
Bast Fibre Tech — Sero Natural Hemp Fibre 
A person or group whose work is at the forefront of the industry with their game-changing technical tools for improvement and impact to further the hemp industry. Their brand has grown exponentially over the last year, whose product or services filled a gap in the market or both.
2022 recipient: Corbett Hefner and Formation Ag

Carbon Solution Award
Patrick Brown — Hempfinity/Brown Family Farms
Acting as a change agent through their processes and efforts by creating ways to reduce carbon emissions with their own practices and/or through the products they produce. They lead the way in lowering their carbon footprint while providing direction for others to do the same in the joint effort against the carbon crisis.
2022 recipient: Sergiy “Doctor Hemphouse” Kovalenkov

Legacy Award
Chris Boucher
This award is to honor a remarkable person whose legacy has and will continue to embolden others. They are well-respected and their efforts have not gone unrecognized. Their passion for hemp has not wavered. Their perseverance remained steady through challenges they may have faced over time. 
2022 recipient: Tim Shaughnessy

The Das Award/aka The Service Award
Alex White Plume
Service is what life is all about. Service doesn’t have to be big and grandiose to be meaningful and make a difference. Goodness is the only investment that never fails. As we serve others, we are working on ourselves; every act, every word, every gesture of genuine compassion naturally nourishes our own hearts as well. Our rewards in life will always be in direct ratio to our service. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.
2022 recipient: Agua Das Ellis

Hemp Pitch Winners 2023
This year’s NoCo Hemp Expo also featured the second annual NoCo Hemp Pitch, where six finalist companies vied for prizes, including legal fees and other services.

Sponsored by Michael Best, a leading law firm serving the hemp and cannabis markets, the NoCo Hemp Pitch competition gave the finalists six minutes each to pitch their brand or idea to a live audience and to judges, who included hemp industry start-up consultants, attorneys and investors. 

This year’s winners:

1st place: Bee Delightful, led by Skyler Johnstone and master beekeeper Daniel Weaver, produces wildflower honey from rescue bees in Central Texas and infuses the raw honey with a carefully extracted, naturally occurring cannabidiol (CBD) from organic hemp farms in Colorado, Oregon and Kentucky.

2nd place: Pure BioPlastics, led by Ed Lehrburger out of Colorado, creates hemp fiber produced by PureHemp, which has been manufactured and sold into various markets to make first-generation hemp plastics. During the past five years, the company has developed a new technology to convert hemp stalks into 100% bioplastics (second-generation hemp plastics). 

Tree Free Hemp Charity Golf Challenge
The team from Sawyer Labs/Trusted Harvest won the first annual Tree Free Hemp Charity Golf Challenge, to benefit the Realm of Caring Foundation. 

First Citizens Bank, EarthX, Patagonia Led Distinguished Group of Sponsors
NoCo Hemp Expo is pleased to recognize our Sponsors, including Presenting Sponsor First Citizens Bank. “Having a leading, agriculture-focused financial institution such as First Citizens Bank, with its 100-plus-year history of serving farmers and ag-related businesses, step up and serve as Presenting Sponsor of this year’s NoCo Hemp Expo is a huge statement, providing vital credibility and legitimization for the industry at a time when it’s needed most,” said Beegle. “We’re also thrilled to welcome EarthX as our Environmental NGO partner and Patagonia as Sustainable Apparel Sponsor. Additional lead sponsors include Global Fiber Processing, Michael Best, CannaConsortium, Advanced Bio-Materials Technologies, Divita Hemp Block & Weaving Vibes. We are very excited about these categories that bring focus to areas where hemp can make a difference in sustainability and improving the environment.”

2024 NoCo10 Announced
The 10th NoCo event will be held at The Broadmoor from March 20-22, 2024. To exhibit or sponsor, click here.

About NoCo Hemp Expo
For a decade, NoCo Hemp Expo — the world’s most comprehensive industrial hemp exposition and conference — has brought together international business and government leaders, academics, nonprofits, media and the public to collaborate on important initiatives, opportunities and solutions for the future of a crop and an industry that can have significant positive impact on human, animal and planetary health.

NoCo is produced by We Are For Better Alternatives (WAFBA), a leading organization dedicated to the advancement and advocacy of hemp farming, processing, production, innovation, education and legalization. WAFBA also is the publisher of Let’s Talk Hemp, the industry’s leading news source. Learn more about the hemp and cannabis industry and subscribe to the latest news at

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