Jess Bengtson
Jess Bengtson

Jess Bengtson 2010 is always searching for her next feature story subject and, when she started as the communications specialist at the University of Minnesota Crookston in June 2022, the new job seemed like the perfect fit. She previously worked for the Crookston Times newspaper and exited as the managing editor. 

Bengtson received her bachelor’s degree in communication from UMN Crookston and was considered a “non-traditional student”, as she took a break from college after attending another university immediately after graduating high school. 

“I don’t necessarily like the term ‘non-traditional’ student,” she expresses. “I believe that all ages should be able to decide when it’s best to start or finish their education, but I was happy I went back to school when I did.”

"If I could change anything about my life's path, it would have been to find UMN Crookston sooner,” Bengtson added.

After registering to start at UMN Crookston, Bengtson didn’t know what she wanted to study but her advisor, Associate Professor Kevin Thompson, Ph.D., seemed to know exactly what was right for her.

“He seemed to know me better than I knew myself when he said I should go into communication; either that or he was just trying to fill the program,” Bengtson said jokingly. “I learned so much from my classes and moved forward with an understanding of how much better life could be with a degree."

Bengtson now works alongside Thompson in the University and Alumni Relations office. 

"I'm fortunate to be able to work with such great people and to enjoy this beautiful campus,” she continued. “I’ve found many ‘hidden’ places here that I didn’t know about as a student or member of the community. I enjoy watching the campus animals, whether it’s the squirrels, bunnies, and birds in the nature center, or the horses and goats at UTOC. I also like to explore the gardens and flower beds during the summer, which is my favorite season.” 

Bengtson has many goals for her position at UMN Crookston, one of them being connecting with faculty, staff, and students. She also hopes to increase alumni communication, internally and externally. Bengtson believes her previous and current involvements with the community will help bring the campus and community closer, as Crookston is quite lucky to have a four-year university within its city limits. 

Bengtson’s community involvement includes the Downtown Crookston Development Partnership, Crookston Ox Cart Days summer festival, United Way of Crookston, Crookston Visitors Bureau, Crookston Rotary Club, NW MN Cancer Crusaders, and Crookston Area Community Fund, among others, all of which she continues to enjoy. 

Bengtson has lived in Crookston for almost 20 years and likes spending time with her two sons,  Jackson and Baily, daughter, Violet, and husband, Garett, who is a firefighter in Crookston, along with their two dogs, Fiona, a German Wirehaired Pointer, and Eevee, a Goldendoodle. She enjoys traveling, seeking new adventures, fishing, photography, crafting, and most of all, loves all things Minnesota. 

Visit Bengtson in Kiehle Building 115C and email story ideas to

Written for the March 2023 Torchlight e-Newsletter