Torch & Shield Award
The Torch & Shield Award recognizes individuals who have provided leadership and who have aided in the development of the University of Minnesota Crookston, Northwest Research and Outreach Center (NWROC) and Extension. It is the highest award an individual can receive from the campus.
The purpose of honoring someone with a Torch & Shield Award is to
- Honor contributions of significance to higher education, the Crookston campus, and the region
- Recognize champions of UMN Crookston, NWROC and Extension for their impact on the region through teaching, research, and outreach.
- Distinguish both high profile individuals and those who have been "quiet" contributors to the success of UMN Crookston.
How to nominate...
Recognition is considered when exceptional service has been given by an individual and may include such things as
- Legislative advocacy for higher education that has positively affected the campus
- Advocacy within the University of Minnesota 's Board of Regents and/or central administration
- Membership on advisory committees, alumni boards, Program Improvement Audit Committees (PIAC), etc which provided exceptional service and/or guidance
- Outstanding leadership or service by an individual to UMC, NWROC, and/or Extension
- Provided financial support to enhance the mission of the campus
- Faculty and staff may be selected for exceptional contributions and/or service to the campus
2020 - Current Year Recipients
Jason Brantner has a long and significant connection to the Red River Valley through his extensive work on sugarbeets. He was hired by the Northwest Research and Outreach Center (NWROC) in 1995 and worked for 25 years on sugarbeet plant pathology lab and field research.
Well known to the farming communities, Brantner is a trusted source for the research he has performed over the years. He has made critical contributions to the sugarbeet program and is known nationally as an excellent researcher within the sugarbeet industry. Brantner has a significant research publication record, as author/coauthor of 119 sugarbeet research and extension reports.
Brantner has received several awards in recognition of his many contributions. In 2011, Brantner was awarded the Sugarbeet Distinguished Service Award from the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association. In 2007, he received the Distinguished Professional and Academic Staff Award from University of Minnesota CFANS. He is also the recipient of the 2006 Professional and Academic Staff Award from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Plant Pathology.
Brantner received a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., in 1992 and a master of science in plant pathology from the University of Minnesota in 1995. He currently works as the official variety trial manager for American Crystal Sugar Company in Moorhead, Minn. He and his wife, Kerri, have two sons, Charles and Benjamin.
Dr. Frank W. Veden Charitable Trust
Dr. Frank W. Veden was a graduate of Detroit Lake High School, and later, a 1936 graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. He was a life-long resident of Fergus Falls, Minn., dedicating his profession in dentistry to the area for 54 years. His practice and interest in the economic well-being of rural Minnesota led him to the establishment of the Dr. Frank W. Veden Charitable Trust which was created to benefit several diverse facets of education at the University. At his death, Dr. Veden left funds in a charitable trust to be used for a wide variety of purposes but generally with a focus on the northwest quadrant of Minnesota including economic development for this region.
In its history, Trustees have been assigned the significant work of determining disbursement of the Dr. Frank W. Veden Charitable Trust. It’s important to recognize Mr. Ken Broin, who represented the Trustees in regards to the Crookston gifts and ongoing support on behalf of the Trust. Broin fostered a long-term relationship with the University of Minnesota Crookston and its leaders, having a deep understanding of UMN Crokston’s place and vitality in the region as it relates to rural economic development. Ken Broin served for 40 years on the UMN Crookston All Campus Advisory Board.
The Dr. Frank W. Veden Charitable Trust has been one of the largest financial contributors to programs and scholarships at the University of Minnesota Crookston. These generous and thoughtful contributions support the Dr. Frank W. Veden Endowed Scholarship, the Ken Broin Endowed Scholarship, and the Veden Center for Rural Economic Development.
Currently, the Board of Trustees includes Sally Godfrey, Gary Johnson and Robert Struyk.
Lyle Westrom, Ph.D.
Lyle Westrom was an integral part of the University of Minnesota Crookston for 31 years. His time at UMN Crookston was split between animal science and agricultural education. Professor Westrom's tenure was highlighted by his role in starting the agricultural education degree program twice on campus. The first was a joint program with the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and UMN Crookston (2000-2014). The second was a stand-alone program at UMN Crookston (2016-present) that reached its peak enrollment near the end of his career. There are numerous agricultural education graduates teaching in Minnesota and North Dakota that graduated from the two agricultural education programs led by Westrom.
During his time on campus, Westrom advised approximately 300 undergraduate students and three master's students, while serving on ten masters oral defense committees. He advised numerous student organizations including the Dairy Club, Collegiate FFA, Campus Crusade for Christ, Crookston Student Association, and several other clubs and organizations. He also coached numerous types of judging teams, including dairy judging which involved coaching over 40 teams in various competitions across the U.S.
Westrom stated that perhaps the greatest highlight of his career was watching students grow and turn into outstanding young adults; “It is an honor to watch young men and women enter the agricultural education world, establish themselves in a fulfilling career, and ultimately make a difference in their students’ lives.”
Westrom received his bachelor of science and master of arts degrees from the UM Twin Cities and doctor of philosophy from Mississippi State University. He and his wife, Susan, have four children and four granddaughters. His family also includes two brothers, their spouses and his 101+ year old mother.
No event was held in 2020.
2010 - 2019 Recipients
Dr. Kari Torkelson
Dr. Kari Torkelson 1991, an optometrist in Grand Forks, N.D., has a long and special relationship with University of Minnesota Crookston. While attending UMN Crookston, she played basketball and volleyball – her basketball team (1989-90) was inducted into the UMC Hall of Fame in 2008. She also participated in choir and campus ministry and was a residential advisor during her years at on campus.
She transferred to North Dakota State University, Fargo N.D., to complete her bachelor’s degree, and then to Indiana University, Bloomington, to earn her Doctorate of Optometry. She returned to the Crookston area and reconnected with the University of Minnesota Crookston, serving on the Teambacker Board, All-College Advisory Committee, the Alumni Association board, and the Athletic Hall of Fame committee.
In 2001, Torkelson was named an Outstanding Alumni at the University of Minnesota Crookston, and in 2011, she was awarded the prestigious University of Minnesota Alumni Association Service Award.
In addition to her strong presence on campus, Torkelson is equally committed to her community and the world by serving on the boards of the North Dakota School for the Blind Foundation and Habitat for Humanity in Grand Forks. Her efforts have been recognized by the St. Hilaire Lions Club with the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank Helen Keller Sight Award for her volunteer work with mission trips to Tanzania, Jamaica and Ecuador to using her skills as an eye doctor to address the needs of people. She is currently an optometrist at Lifetime Vision Center in Grand Forks.
Theresia Gillie, a successful business owner in Hallock, Minn., sets the bar for women in agriculture. A graduate earning her associate degree in accounting from the University of Minnesota Crookston 1983 and Class II graduate of Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program (MARL), she serves as and Kittson County commissioner and is the state director of the Minnesota Wheat and Soybean Associations.
She has held many positions with the Soybean Growers Association in addition to president, including vice president, state director, secretary, chair of industry affairs, chair of advocacy, chair of membership and co-chair of corporate relations. She also served as treasurer of the Kittson County Fair Board, Kittson County Soybean Growers and Kittson County Farm Bureau.
The death of Gillie’s husband, Keith, in 2017, has served as a driving force the work she does in her community. She has rallied for farmers and rural Americans in Washington, D.C., by helping elected officials with a farm disaster bill and going before an ag panel to acquire funding for mental health services in rural areas.
Although Gillie holds seats on multiple boards and committees, perhaps the most important one is the seat of her combine, farming 950 acres in northwest Minnesota on the Gillie Grain farm. She and two neighbors act as a cooperative, sharing labor and equipment to farm their respective acreage.
For more than 135 years, the Dagen family has been farming in the Red River Valley of Kittson County in Karlstad, Minnesota. Located in the most northwest corner of Minnesota, adjacent to North Dakota to the west and Manitoba, Canada, to the north, the Dagens have been turning over the Minnesota farmland for five generations.
In 2011, Justin Dagen served as the president of the National Potato Council, and as a Minnesota representative on the Board of Directors of the National Potato Council from 1996 to 2017. Dagen also serves as the vice president of Agrasure Board of Directors representing the Drayton Factory of the American Crystal Sugar Cooperative.
He keeps ahead of issues on his farm and in farming by working closely with University of Minnesota Extension and helping to inform them as well as receiving valuable information that informs his management decisions.
Bremer Financial Corporation is a privately held, $11 billion regional financial services company jointly owned by the Otto Bremer Trust and Bremer employees. Founded in 1943 by Otto Bremer, the company is headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, and provides a comprehensive range of banking, wealth management, investment, trust, and insurance products and services throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Clients include individuals and families, mid-sized corporations, small businesses, agribusinesses, nonprofits, and public and government entities.
Bremer Bank is committed to the University of Minnesota Crookston, partnering in many ways from significant ongoing financial contributions, employee involvement, establishing relationships with faculty, staff, and students, employing U of M Crookston students and graduates, and showing their support by wearing maroon and gold on Fridays.
American Crystal Sugar
American Crystal Sugar Company is a world-class agricultural cooperative specializing in the production of sugar and related agri-products. American Crystal is owned by 2,750 shareholders who raise approximately one-third of the nation’s sugarbeet acreage in the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota.
As the largest beet sugar producer in the United States, the company utilizes innovative farming practices, low-cost production methods, and sales and marketing leadership to produce and sell about 15 percent of America’s finest quality sugar.
American Crystal Sugar has collaborated with the Northwest Research and Outreach Center since the early 1970s on field-sized sugarbeet research production acreage. They are a member of the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board, which aids in supplying substantial funding through grower check-off for sugarbeet research.
The company participates in campus career fairs, employs a significant number of U of M Crookston alumni, and positively impacts the community through contributions, scholarships, and volunteerism. Their technical services center and corporate headquarters are located in Moorhead, Minnesota.
Jim Cameron retired as research plot coordinator at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center (NWROC) in July 2015. After what was supposed to be a 3-month summer job, Cameron worked more than 40 years for the NWROC. Born in Fisher, Minn., Cameron worked on the family farm in the summer and in the fall at American Crystal Sugar. In May 1968, he entered the U.S. Army and served with the 101st Air Borne Division Recon Unit in Viet Nam. After a critical injury and four months in the hospital, Cameron came back to the United States in 1969. Eventually he returned to the family farm and to work in the sugar beet fields until he was hired at the NWROC in April 1975.
Over the years, Cameron has been involved in countless research projects and worked with staff in the NWROC and the St. Paul campus, University of Minnesota Extension, North Dakota State University, and a number of undergraduate and graduate students. In 1991, he became the official weatherman, collecting temperatures, precipitation updating the weather book that dates back to the 1890s. Since retirement, Cameron finds himself back on the family farm helping his grandnephew with the cattle.
Betty Younggren serves as Kittson County Commissioner and has for 18 years. She attended the Minneapolis Vocational School of Practical Nursing and works as a licensed practical nurse and radiology technician at the Kittson Memorial Nursing Home in Hallock, Minn. Younggren has served for the past 8 years on the University of Minnesota Crookston Campus Advisory and Advancement Board and for 18 years on the Kittson County Extension Committee. She is a member of the Hallock Library Board and Book Club and also serves on the Kittson county ATV club, Friends of Lake Bronson State Park, and the North Red River Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. Younggren and her husband, Jim, were named a Minnesota Farm Family of the Year in 2015, and the Younggrens were honored by the Red River Valley Development Association in 2015 for their many contributions and their leadership in the region.
UMC Faculty Women’s Association
UMC Faculty Women’s Association started with six women and ten children in 1966. Together this group of talented, dedicated women would create a legacy for the Crookston campus through their fundraising efforts and their support of campus activities.
A scholarship committee drafted criteria for the Faculty Women’s Club Scholarship and the first $150 scholarship was given at a tea at the home of First Lady Mil Sahlstrom, wife of Founding Provost Stanley Sahlstrom, to two young women, both graduates of the Class of 1969. From 1971 until the Sahlstrom’s retired in 1985, the women’s association hosted Faculty Frolics to raise money for scholarships.
The hilarious antics of faculty and staff filled the evening with fun and entertainment for the campus and the surrounding community while raising money to support students. With First Lady Mil Sahlstrom at the helm, the women's association had raised enough money to provide $10 ,000 in scholarships to U of M Crookston students. The legacy of the Faculty Women’s Association is their determined and devoted support for education and their passion for the Crookston campus.
Mary Jo Eastes 1979
Mary Jo Eastes, a 1979 graduate of the University of Minnesota Crookston, has lived and worked in southern California since 1985. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota, she moved to Los Angeles, she held several entry level jobs in the produce industry, became specialty produce buyer for TOPCO Associates, and later, was in charge of citrus sales and marketing with Pandol Brothers and The Sam Perricone Company in the San Joaquin Valley. From 1994-2007, she was the owner of Videos on Broadway in Crookston. Her legacy is best traced in her countless volunteer activities, grant writing, and organizing events, particularly with Arts Visalia in Visalia, Calif. She has worked to raise funding for children's art classes and gallery exhibits and other projects.
She recently marked her ninth year producing the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Waiters Race, both held in downtown Visalia. Eastes organized the Neighborhood Watch in her community; started the Monthly Birthday Party for the Visalia Rescue Mission in 2004, an ongoing event for the mission; has been involved with Banner of Hope, a fundraising effort to fight cancer; and partnered with a local newspaper and 18 non-profits to raise money in Newstands for Non-profits.
Eastes and her husband, Rick, reside in Visalia and are avid art collectors. They have donated two works by artist Gary Ernest Smith to the campus. She was honored as an Outstanding Alumni in 2009 and serves on the University of Minnesota Crookston College Advisory and Advancement Board.
Richard “Dick” Hebert 1968
Richard “Dick” Hebert is currently chairman of the board of D & D Commodities Ltd., a company he founded in 1987, which today packages premium caged and outdoor pet food as well as small animal feed. The company has evolved and grown to become a leader in the bird and small animal food manufacturing industry.
Hebert attended the U of M Crookston from 1966-68, then transferred to North Dakota State University in Fargo where he earned his Bachelor of Science in agronomy and soils. While employed at Minn-Dak Growers, he gained insight and knowledge about the specialty crops industry working closely with Dr. Robby Robinson from the University of Minnesota particularly regarding the sunflower industry. Hebert wrote the state grade standards for confection and oil sunflowers.
A member of the Wild Bird Food Institute (WBFI), he was a founding trustee of the WBFI Research Foundation, an organization whose purpose is to advance the knowledge of wild bird feeding through scientific research on food and feeder preference.
Hebert is a new member of the U of M Crookston College Advisory and Advancement Board and was the recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award in 1993.
Sugarbeet Research and Education Board
The Sugarbeet Research and Education Board is organized for educational and scientific purposes including to further develop the sugarbeet industry of North Dakota and Minnesota through coordinated research and educational programs; and to provide a structure whereby sugarbeet interests can participate in and contribute to cooperative research and educational efforts.
They also identify needs for strengthening the sugarbeet industry and make recommendations for research and educational programs and serve as a forum for the sugarbeet industry in Minnesota and North Dakota.
The Board funds research projects by universities and private researchers. These projects focus on sugarbeet production, although the board occasionally funds other projects of general interest to the valley sugarbeet industry.
The Board is funded by a check-off on each acre of sugarbeets planted. This is a grower self-help program that administers research and education programs to benefit sugarbeet growers. The award was accepted by Keith McNamara, president of the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board.
Susan Hagstrum holds a B.S. in speech pathology from Northwestern University and an M. A. in speech pathology and a Ph. D. in education policy and administration, awarded by the University of Minnesota. She enjoyed a 7-year career in preK-12 public education in Minnesota before establishing her own small business to provide leadership to non-profit organizations as they worked to improve results.
She placed her business on hold in 2003 to devote full-time attention to serving as one of University of Minnesota's ambassadors and major volunteers. Her husband, Robert H. Bruininks, served as the fifteenth president of the University of Minnesota from 2002 through 2011. She hosted University groups and guests at Eastcliff, the historic home of the University president, and served in a major role in publicly representing the University, and in fundraising with friends, community groups, alumni and staff of the University.
Susan enjoyed her visits to the University of Minnesota's statewide campuses during her husband's presidency and worked to raise funds on behalf of students and programs on the Crookston campus. She served on several University museum boards, including the Weisman Art Museum, the Bell Museum of Natural History, and the Tweed Museum on the Duluth campus. She was a founding member of the Women's Philanthropic Leadership Circle in the College of Education and Human Development. Susan also served on several University boards of advisors for the College of Education and Human Development, the College of Design, and the Medical School on the Twin Cities campus.
Susan is currently a board member of the Minnesota Orchestra. She is also a member of the Minnesota Women's Economic Roundtable and is a past board member of the Tyrone Guthrie Theater. Her University of Minnesota volunteer activities include serving on the Advisory Council of the University Libraries and the Neuroscience Advisory Council of the Academic Health Center.
Peter Wasberg is the director of Human Resources & Safety, and has been a member of the executive team at Otter Tail Power Company since 2008. Pete was the human resources manager for three years prior to being named to his current position. Before moving to the Human Resources Department in 2004, Pete spent the first fourteen years of his career in various positions with Otter Tail Power Company in their Milbank, S.D., Bemidji, Hallock, and Crookston Customer Service Centers, and was promoted to division manager in 1997 and area manager in 2002. Pete also spent a legislative session in the company's Legislative Affairs Department.
Along with his work at Otter Tail Power Company, Pete has been active in community and area activities. Currently, Pete is a member of the board of directors for Crookston National Bank, a member of the Fergus Falls Noon Day Rotary Club, and serves on the College Advisory and Advancement Board for the University of Minnesota Crookston.
Pete has served on the executed committee of UMC Teambackers; the Enactus Advisory Board, an organization for students in business; chancellor search committees, and the Valley Technology Park Board of Directors. He is a past chairman of the Crookston Area Chamber of Commerce, past president of the Crookston Rotary Club, served on the Riverview Healthcare Board of Trustees and the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce Board. Pete also completed two terms on the Lake Region Halfway House Board of Directors.
Pete has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, where he majored in business administration and psychology.
Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council
Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council was established in 1978, the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council is a non-profit organization that invests wheat check-off dollars for the benefit of wheat
producers. The Council is directed by a nine member board made up of wheat producers, elected by their peers. The Council's activities are funded from a two-cent assessment on all wheat bushels sold and stored in Minnesota. About 50 percent of the check-off funds are allocated to research, 25 percent to promotion and 25 percent to communication of information to growers. The Minnesota Wheat Council offices are located in Red Lake Falls, a central location to 90 percent of the wheat grown in Minnesota.
Throughout Minnesota Wheat Council's history they have worked closely with University of Minnesota, NWROC, and U of M Extension to advance wheat production efficiency and profitability in Minnesota through research and education. The Council worked with U of M Extension and NWROC staff to start the Small Grains Institute which continues today as the International Crops Expo.
The Council was a supporter and promoter of the NWROC plan to create a center of excellence in small grains at the Crookston location. The Council helped advocate for and fund four key research and extension positions at the NWROC. These positions continue to contribute to the economic viability of the region and state. Some of these positions help educate students at U of M Crookston. The Council worked with local and regional extension educators to start an annual educational workshop called "Getting it Right;" it continues today as "Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybean Research."
Over its history, the Minnesota Wheat Council has contributed over $6.5 million to research. Of that, over $4.8 million went to U of M and U of M Extension. The Northwest Research and Outreach Center and NW MN Extension received approximately $1.5 million.
Common goals and a desire to help wheat growers succeed have led to many long lasting connections and relationships between the MN Wheat Council, NWROC, and U of M Extension.
Charles "Chuck" Habstritt
Charles "Chuck" Habstritt a retired University of Minnesota Crookston Associate Professor is highlighted with achievement and a legacy of dedication to students during a 40-year teaching career.
He graduated in 1967 with a bachelor of science in agronomy/soil science from the University of Minnesota. Transferring to North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D., Habstritt obtained his master of science in 1969 majoring in agronomy with an emphasis in soils, biochemistry, and plant physiology.
Habstritt began his teaching career in 1969 at the U of M Crookston where he specialized in agronomy and soils. He was named outstanding educator by students three times and in 1999, he was selected to receive the Distinguished Teaching Award by his colleagues. In 2007-08, Habstritt was honored with the University of Minnesota's John Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising. In the U of M system, the Tate Awards recognizes and rewards high-quality academic advising.
From 1970 to 2009, Habstritt served as a coach to the highly successful Collegiate Crops Judging Team on the Crookston campus. He was also responsible for compiling the rules and regulations book that has been used for national contests in both Chicago and Kansas City. He has coached his teams to top-three finishes more than 25 times.
Habstritt has developed and taught 13 courses, advised some 40-50 students a year, trained teaching assistants, published, and solicited funding for scholarships to keep and attract top students for his program. He found time during his career to manage his grain, oil seed, and grass seed farm and was recognized with the Honorary State Farmer Degree. During his career, Habstritt also served as assistant coach for hockey, and in 1986, he received the University of Minnesota Regents Award for Excellence in Coaching.
Together with collegiate hockey, Habstritt also found time to coach 32 hockey teams including squirts, peewees, and bantams. Today, Habstritt and his wife, Christine, reside in Casa Grande Ariz. in the winter and Rocky Point on the Lake of the Woods in the summer. Although retired from teaching, he still farms with his brother near Roseau, Minn.
Lynn Willhite has been a studio artist in Crookston, Minn. for the past 25 years. Primarily a textile artist, she works with dye and fabric to create watercolors on fabrics. She sells and shows her work at regional and national art shows. She has generously donated several of her wearable art pieces to support scholarships at the University of Minnesota Crookston.
Willhite's creativity and innate talent have benefitted students across the Crookston campus where she has devoted her countless hours to decorating the residence halls, including Centennial, Evergreen, and most recent--Heritage Hall. These halls attest to her great style and her dedication to making the residence halls beautiful places for students to live and study.
She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in elementary education. Over the years, she taught at the Early Childhood Education Center at the University of Minnesota Crookston and served as an adjunct instructor, teaching drawing and design. Sharing her talent has benefitted not only the campus but the Crookston community where she taught community education classes in watercolor for beginning students.
Willhite moved to Crookston in 1978, with her husband Gary, who is the director of Residential Life and Security. Together, they robustly worked on the very popular Community Stable Service, a live nativity showcased at the U of M Crookston in the arena in the University Teaching and Outreach Center.
She has been an ongoing volunteer in the Crookston community through her church, as well as the schools, working on fundraisers and several committees. She has been a past president of the UMC Faculty Association and has proudly been the leader of 4-H and was responsible for starting the first Cloverbuds program, a pre-school program for siblings of 4-H members.
Alan Cattanach has worked in cooperative research efforts in the past with 8 scientists from Northwest Research and Outreach Center and 6 from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul. He has served on U of M search committees
and Extension planning teams and committees. He has participated in numerous sugarbeet and soil fertility extension meetings with other U of M Extension specialists and county extension agents and served as liaison to NWROC and St. Paul campus scientists for Sugarbeet research programs of interest to American Crystal Sugar Company.
Working as part of the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board of Minnesota and North Dakota, Cattanach has helped to provide extensive funding of projects at the NWROC and to St Paul campus scientists, as well as involved in an EPA grant partnership with NWROC (Biological control of Cercospora Leafspot) and provided gift funds to NWROC in support of sugarbeet research projects.
He earned his doctorate in soil science from the University of Minnesota, and master's of science, and bachelor's of science also in soil science from North Dakota State University (NDSU) and University of Wisconsin-Madison respectively. He has been general agronomist at American Crystal Sugar Company since July 1998 and prior to that worked for North Dakota State University and the U of M as Extension sugarbeet specialist.
Over the years, Wayne Goeken has worked with a number of personnel at the U of M, Crookston primarily with River Watch and watershed education and monitoring efforts. Recently he has worked with associate professors
Katy Smith and Brian Dingmann on a river sediment research project involving high school and university students.
Goeken has been involved in ongoing work with the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership and Executive Director Linda Kingery in promoting the Red Lake River Enhancement Project, including leading a canoe/kayak trip of the entire 195-mile length of the Red Lake River to raise awareness of its cultural attributes and recreational potential. He continues to work with the NRSDP on development of initiatives to connect people to nature, especially children, including promoting nature-based interactive play spaces for children.
He coordinates the annual River Watch Forum on the U of M, Crookston campus during spring break, with high school River Watch teams coming from 25 schools throughout the Red River Basin to share their results and learn about current topics in watershed science. He also conducts annual training and certification workshops each spring for personnel from natural resource agencies who are involved in water quality monitoring, the only certification program of its type in Minnesota.
Goeken earned his bachelor of science in agribusiness and his master of science in economics from South Dakota State University in Brookings.
Otter Tail Power Company
Named for the river that provided its first source of power, Otter Tail Power Company was incorporated in 1907. The company began producing electricity in 1909 at Dayton Hollow Dam on the Otter Tail River near Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and home to the company's headquarters.
Today, Otter Tail Power Company is a subsidiary of Otter Tail Corporation. Its approximately 790 employees provide electricity and energy services to more than 129,000 customers in 422 communities and in rural areas in an un-crowded 70,000-square-mile service area in western Minnesota, eastern North Dakota, and northeastern South Dakota. The company has customer service centers in Crookston and ten other communities in its service area.
Otter Tail Power Company's mission is to produce and deliver electricity as reliably, economically, and environmentally responsibly as possible to the balanced benefit of customers, shareholders, and employees and to improve the quality of life in the area in which we do business. To learn more about Otter Tail Power Company visit www.otpco.com.
Otter Tail Power Company has supported the University of Minnesota, Crookston over the years through scholarships, the Campus Energy Challenge, and various sponsorships.
Cris Oehler director of public relations for Otter Tail, accepted the award on behalf of Otter Tail Power Company.
Bob Nelson, Ph.D., came to the University of Minnesota Crookston in 1987 as the vice chancellor for student affairs and director of financial aid. In 1996, he became registrar along with his duties as vice chancellor, a
combined role he held until 2005, when he added the director of institutional research to his role as registrar.
Over the years, Nelson has held significant roles in the transition of the campus to a baccalaureate institution from a two-year technical college and the conversion from quarters to semesters. He led efforts on the Crookston campus for web-based student self-registration, the University (U) Card, Academic Progress Audit System (APAS) for academic advising, the campus institutional research program, the student center design and construction project, and the "one-stop" student service center among others.
He has been very active in the community serving from 2003 to 2008 on the RiverView Health board of directors, a member of Crookston Rotary Club and serving as president in 1997-98, president of the Crookston Chamber of Commerce in 1992, and a member of the Crookston 2000 Community Design Team. Nelson was awarded the Linda Schrempp Alberg Outstanding Contribution to Minnesota Higher Education award by the Minnesota College Personnel Association in 1995 and was named the Northwest Minnesota Counselors Association Administrator of the Year for 1990-91.
Kathleen O'Brien has served as vice president for University Services since October 2002. Under her leadership, University Services has been transformed into a campus leader in accountability, efficiency and outstanding
service. University Services, with a $394 million annual operating budget and more than 3,000 employees includes Facilities Management, Capital Planning and Project Management, Auxiliary Services (Bookstores, Dining Services, Housing and Residential Life, Parking and Transportation, Printing Services, and University Stores), Public Safety (University Police Department, Central Security , and Emergency Management), and Environmental Health and Safety, and Building Codes.
Vice President O'Brien has system-wide leadership responsibilities on issues related to emergency preparedness, facilities, sustainability, campus master planning and environmental health and safety. Vice President O'Brien directs the University's efforts on the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line which will travel though the heart of campus on Washington Avenue. From 2003 to 2009, she and Athletics Director Joel Maturi led the construction of TCF Bank Stadium, the first Big Ten football stadium built in more than a generation.
Li Shuming has served as president of Zhejiang Economic and Trade Polytechnic (ZJETP) since 2000. ZJETP in Hangzhou, China, is a partner university with University of Minnesota Crookston. For the past ten years,
President Li has paid special attention to building ZJETP's relationships with institutions overseas. He successfully strengthened ties with international education partners when he signed a cooperative agreement with the University of Minnesota Crookston. This agreement established a ZJETP-UMC joint English as Second Language (ESL) program as well as two joint programs in agriculture business and computer software technology and allows ZJETP students to transfer to the U of M, Crookston to earn their bachelor's degrees.
President Li has been awarded Outstanding President by the National Marketing and Supply Group. Under his leadership, ZJETP has grown to offer four international cooperation programs, two language centers, and is now in collaboration with more than 10 institutions overseas.
Carol Windels, Ph.D., is a world renowned expert in sugar beet root diseases and has made major contributions to the understanding of sugar beet root diseases and their control or management in the sugar beet
industry of Minnesota and North Dakota. Previous to that, she made significant contributions to the understanding of Fusarium Head Blight (scab disease in small grains) and the organism that causes it.
Her professional career started with the University of Minnesota as a junior scientist rising through the rank of Scientist. In 1984, she came to Crookston and the Northwest Experiment Station as an assistant professor. In 1998, she was promoted to full professor and is a valued member of the faculty at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center. She is also an adjunct professor at North Dakota State University's Department of Plant Pathology.
Windels has been teacher and mentor to several graduate students as well as numerous under graduate students who have worked in her lab and on her projects these many years. She is a member of several professional societies and has served as an officer in various capacities, including president, of the American Phytopathological Society. She has earned several awards and honors including the Sugarbeet Distinguished Service Award by the Sugarbeet Industry of Minnesota and North Dakota, the Meritorious Service Award by the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists, and is a Fellow in both the American Phytopathological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Susan Brorson, Ph.D., is a professor and head of the Business Department at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Her work on the campus spans more than 30 years and serving as head of the Business Department for the past six years. Brorson has embraced and nurtured educational innovation. First, through teaching as the U of M Crookston transitioned to a technology-focused baccalaureate campus in the 1990s and most recently, through her work as an administrator. Under her leadership, the Business Department has grown to offer five baccalaureate degrees online and serve more than 400 degree-seeking students.
Phil Baird is an associate professor in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department at the U of M, Crookston where he has served since 1979. An innovative and dedicated instructor, Baird has served as an advisor to countless students. For the past 28 years, Baird and Tom Feiro have taken his students each spring to the Deer River District on the Chippewa National Forest for a long weekend of planting trees and experiencing the meaning of service, hard work, teamwork, and responsibility. Their crews have planted more than 155,000 trees.
David Hoff joined the teaching staff at the University of Minnesota Technical College in Crookston in 1967. He is responsible for starting the ag business program in 1970. Over the years, he was involved in many of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conferences over the years serving as judging team coordinator from 1988-2004.
KROX AM Radio 1260
KROX AM Radio 1260 is only the second organization to be recognized with the Torch & Shield Award. Founded in April 1948, the station has been broadcasting everyday for more than 62 years. It is owned and operated by Gopher Communications Company, which is comprised of Frank and Jeanette Fee. A community-minded radio station, KROX works in cooperation with the University of Minnesota Crookston and covers news stories from the campus as well as broadcasting Insight Radio and Golden Eagle athletic events.
2000 - 2009 Recipients
Orlyn Miller has worked for the University of Minnesota for 22 years and is currently director of planning and architecture. He plays a major role in the development and management of the capital planning and budgeting processes at the university. For the past two decades, he has provided assistance on capital planning and campus planning issues at the Crookston campus including Bergland Laboratory, Early Childhood Development Center, Kiehle Hall renovation, Student Center, and the two most recent residence halls, Evergreen and Centennial. Prior to his work at the university, Miller was a member of a landscape architectural/engineering firm, where he obtained broad experience in strategic planning, project design, project management and governmental relations. Miller and his wife, Sharon, have two children and four grandchildren.
Jim Sims was head football coach at the U of M, Crookston from 1976-1995. During his tenure, the U of M Crookston Technical College won three division team championships, and he was named division coach of the year twice. Sims taught health, physical education, and recreation and was the program manager for two years. He went on to serve as the co-curricular activities director for the high school in Thief River Falls, Minn., until he retired in 2007. In 2002, Sims was inducted into the U of M Crookston’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and in 2008, he was inducted into the Minnesota High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Sims, and his wife, Sharon, have two children and three grandchildren.
Erma J. Vizenor
Erma J. Vizenor, Ph.D., was elected as the chairwoman of the White Earth Reservation in 2004 and is the first woman to lead the largest tribe in Minnesota. As chairwoman, she represents all districts on the White Earth Reservation. Vizenor has worked her entire career in education on the White Earth Reservation. She holds an undergraduate degree in elementary education; a master's degree in Guidance and Counseling; and a specialist degree in education administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead. A Bush Leadership fellowship gave her the opportunity to earn a master's degree in community decision-making and lifelong learning; and a doctoral degree in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University. Vizenor has two daughters and four grandchildren.
The Crookston Daily Times
The Crookston Daily Times has roots dating back to 1885 and was locally owned until 1972. It is currently owned by GateHouse Media, a Fairport, New York-based company that owns approximately 500 media properties. The Times' operation also consists of the Valley Shopper and the Halstad Shopper. The Times itself is widely considered to be the smallest daily newspaper in Minnesota, and one of the smallest dailies in the nation. The paper publishes Monday through Friday and is a rarity in the business in that it goes to press in the afternoon and is delivered in the afternoon. With eight full-time staff members, the staff at the Times includes Publisher Randal Hultgren and newsroom staff consisting of Managing Editor Mike Christopherson, City Editor Natalie J. Ostgaard, and Sports Editor Derek Martin. Accepting the award will be Mike Christopherson.
Stephanie Helgeson, has served as the director of athletics at the Crookston campus since 2003. She began her career at the U of M Crookston working as the office specialist in athletics and later became the sports information coordinator. In September of 2000 she was named the assistant director of athletics. Helgeson attended the U of M Crookston for two years in the early 90s before transferring to the University of North Dakota to complete her bachelor's degree in business administration and where she is currently pursuing a master of science in educational leadership. Her leadership of Golden Eagle Athletics at the NCAA Division II level and as a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) emphasizes academic excellence and the development of student athletes as leaders. She and her husband, Tom, reside near Mentor, MN.
Joy Johnson, a native of Bemidji, MN, and graduate of Bemidji High School, earned her bachelor's degree in medical sociology and statistics from the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks. She completed course work for a master's of science in sociology also from UND and began a career in healthcare strategic planning and marketing. Johnson has worked for national health systems and regional and community hospitals for nearly 30 years. She is currently employed at RiverView Health in Crookston as vice president of Planning and Ancillary Services, a position she has held since August 1995. Johnson has been actively involved in various institution-wide strategic planning projects at the Crookston campus, including the University of Minnesota's recent efforts in system-wide strategic planning. she and her husband, David, reside in Crookston and are the parents of two sons.
Senator Rod Skoe, represents District 2 and has been serving in the Minnesota Senate since 2002. He served as a representative in the Minnesota House from 1998 until his election to the senate. Senator Skoe earned a bachelor of arts from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN, and has been involved in farming since 1985. Senator Skoe is a member of a number of senate committees including property tax division, chair; agriculture and veterans; business, industry and jobs; finance - agriculture and veterans budget and policy division; transportation budget and policy division. He and his wife, Sarah Hoagberg, live in Clearbrook, MN, and have two children.
W. Daniel Svedarsky
W. Daniel Svedarsky, Ph.D, has been at the University of Minnesota Crookston since 1969 and is currently head of the Natural Resources Department, which includes the program areas of horticulture, golf and turf management, aviation, and the traditional areas of natural resources. He completed two degrees at the University of Missouri, Columbia and later studied the nesting and brood-rearing ecology of greater prairie chickens in Minnesota while completing a doctorate in wildlife biology at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Svedarsky also conducts wildlife research with the Northwest Research and Outreach Center focusing on tallgrass prairie restoration and management using fire and prairie bird management, especially for greater prairie chickens. He and his wife, Vicki, live near Crookston and have three grown children.
Cindy Bigger, a 1979 graduate of the U of M Crookston, is a Regional Extension Educator and an associate professor for University of Minnesota Extension. The focus of her work is in leadership and civic engagement. During her 26-year career she has served in three Minnesota counties working primarily in 4-H youth development and leadership education. She also has a consulting business, Bigger Associates. For the past two years, Bigger has been a member of the U of M Crookston Alumni Association board and currently serves as its vice president. She was the 2006 commencement speaker, a longtime donor, as well as serving on search committees and in many other volunteer capacities. Her father, Sam Bigger, received the Torch & Shield award in 1981.
Jon Evert, serves as a coordinator of Rural Life Outreach of Northwest Minnesota and as a Clay County, M.N., Commissioner. For several years, he has been a member of the All Campus Advisory Council at the U of M Crookston. Evert has been a member of the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership since its beginning in 1988 and served as chairman for six years. He service has included the Statewide Coordinating Committee which he currently chairs. As a six-year member of the Citizens Advisory Committee for the University of Minnesota Extension, Evert is the immediate past-chair. He is an avid supporter of the Crookston campus and promoted it across northwest Minnesota and the state.
Robert Jones, Ph.D., works closely with the U of M Crookston as the senior vice president for system academic administration. In his role as senior vice president, Jones has day-to-day management responsibility for the coordinate campuses at Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester. He began his career at the University of Minnesota as a professor of agronomy and plant genetics. For the past 19 years, he has held administrative positions. His current leadership role has given him responsibilities that include, but are not limited to, public engagement and outreach; international programs; PreK-12 and other youth and family programs; urban initiatives; equity and diversity; legislative relations; and the Extension Service’s and Agricultural Research and Outreach Centers’ research and service programs throughout the state. He has been a visiting professor and featured speaker in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, and served as an academic and scientific consultant for Archbishop Tutu’s South African Education Program.
Ardell Knudsvig, is the director of the Student Outreach Project for Applied Science and Technology at the U of M Crookston and a crop health specialist for the northwest district of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Knudsvig was a science teacher at Crookston High School from 1976 until his retirement in 1998. He was named Crookston Teacher of the Year three times and believed in challenging students through encouragement, commitment and working together, something he still adheres to in his current role where he coordinates U of M Crookston faculty and students to assist in teaching of high school students in areas of science and technology.
Senator Keith Langseth, is currently one of the longest-serving senators in the Minnesota Legislature. Over the years, Senator Langseth has chaired many committees and authored many pieces of legislation in support of education. He believes strongly in investing in the future of our state. Senator Langseth currently serves as the chairperson of the Senate’s Capital Investment Committee, which is responsible for putting together the major bonding bill in odd-numbered years which funds Minnesota’s infrastructure. This biennial bill funds millions of dollars for the University to build and renovate facilities statewide. In 2007, Senator Langseth was named Legislator of the Year by Politics in Minnesota. Senator Langseth, who is unable to be present at the Torch & Shield recognition event, was presented his award during a special presentation during homecoming in early October.
Marv Bachmeier, former Athletic Director at the University of Minnesota, Crookston
Alan G. Dexter, Ph.D., Extension Sugarbeet and Weed Control Specialist for the University of Minnesota and North Dakota State University
William Hunt, Minnesota State Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service
Linda Kingery, Executive Director of the university of Minnesota Northwest Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnership
Harlene Hagen, thirty-eight year career as an educator (retired), NWSA alum ’55, Northwest School of Agriculture Alumni Board
Charles Hiller, trust officer and northern regional manager for Bremer Trust
Albert Peterson, farming operation (retired), brother to Harold
Harold Peterson, farming operation (retired), brother to Albert
Liz Quam, serves as the volunteer Executive Vice President of Advocates for Marketplace Options for Main street (AMOM), a non-profit coalition, member of the UMC All-College Advisory Committee
Doug Sandstrom, conservation officer/regional training officer for the state of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, member of UMC’s Program Improvement Audit Committee
Deborah M. Zak, campus regional director for the Minnesota Extension Service
Clyde Allen, University of Minnesota Regent
John Bywater, former Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at UMC
Bill Connelly, the Director of Urban Economic Initiatives at the University of St. Thomas and a member of the UMC All-College Advisory Committee
Jerome Knutson, Associate Professor of Biology
Del Roelofs, former Director of Development at UMC
George Marx, Professor Emeritus, Northwest Research and Outreach Center
Jerry Rude, UMC Landscape and Grounds Supervisor
Mil Sahlstrom, former UMC First Lady
Don Sargeant, UMC Chancellor Emeritus
Bruce Brorson, UMC Associate Professor and Program Director for Information Technology Management
Beverly Durgan, Associate Dean for Research and Outreach and CFO, U of M College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
Lyle Kasprick, Private Investor and NWSA alum ('50) and his wife Kathleen Kasprick
Dale Knotek, former Director of Student Activities at UMC (retired)
Jerry Nagel, President, Northern Great Plains Inc.
Tom Anderson, Farming Operations, Barnesville
Dan Gartrell, Professor of Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Bemidji State University
Les Nielsen, President, Herc-U-Lift, Inc., Maple Plain
John Vallager, Certified Public Accountant, Drees, Riskey & Vallager, Ltd., Crookston
Honorable Robert Bergland, U of M Regent, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Robert Bruininks, U of M Executive Vice President and Provost
William Peterson, UMC Professor of Mathematics
Harris Peterson, Owner and CEO of Minn-Dak Growers, Ltd., NWSA Alum ‘42
Honorable Allen Olson, President/CEO of the Independent Community of Bankers of Minnesota and former governor of North Dakota
1990 - 1999 Recipients
Peter J. Zetterberg
Ettore (Jim) Infante
C. Eugene Allen
Marjorie & Silas Hanson
Marlin O. Johnson
Thomas C. Lenertz
Mary Beth Sargeant
A. Jack Ruttger
1966 - 1989 Recipients
Sr. Mary Magdelene
J. R. Miller
W. Keith Wharton
Mary Hart Sorenson
Kenneth Plunkett, Sr.
C. Peter Magrath
L. J. Lee
B. E. Youngquist
William Hueg, Jr.
Sr. Mary John Flynn