Mr. Nicholas is a third generation farmer who raises small grains and cattle at Cando, ND. He was elected to the North Dakota legislature in 1975 and served for 32 years. He served as the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee for 13 legislative sessions. He has long been involved in economic development and value added agriculture. He has worked with community leaders in establishing a pasta industry in ND and successfully attracted the nation’s first integrated pasta plant for his hometown of Cando in 1979. In 1990 Gene was one of the founders of the largest and first grower owned pasta company in the country, Dakota Growers Pasta Company. He served as a member of the board of directors until the company was sold in 2010. He currently serves as a board member of Golden Plains Frozen Pasta company at Leeds, ND and Pedigree Technologies in Fargo, ND. North Dakota State University at Fargo, ND honored Gene as one of its Outstanding Alumni in October of 2001. He has also been awarded the GNDA Community Leader Award in 2001, the recipient of the Farmer Award from the ND Wheat Producers in 1991 and the American Coalition for Ethanol Service Award in 2000.