Photo - Recipients of the 2021 Top Aggie Award included from left: Ed Grove 1955, Yorba Linda, Calif., Vern Cleveland 1964, Gardner, N.D., and Gordon Syverson 1954, Fosston Minn. The awards were presented by Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause and Director of University and Alumni Relations/Chief Development Officer Brandy Chaffee at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

CROOKSTON, Minn.  –The alumni reunion of the Northwest School of Agriculture (NWSA) was held Thursday, August 19. Classmates and friends gathered to reconnect and honor outstanding alumni from the NWSA with the Top Aggie award.

The award is the highest honor bestowed on NWSA alumni by its alumni association. This award recognizes alumni who have displayed exemplary commitment and service to community, education, family, or in their occupational field.

Recipients for 2021 include: Vern Cleveland 1964, Gardner, N.D., Ed Grove 1955, Yorba Linda, Calif., and Gordon Syverson 1954, Fosston, Minn.

Vern Cleveland, 1964

Vern Cleveland graduated from the Northwest School of Agriculture in 1964 and served in the U.S. Army from September 1967 through June 1969, stationed in Mannheim Germany. Following his service, Cleveland graduated from North Dakota State University with a bachelor of architecture degree in 1971. He has enjoyed a long career at as architect working as a project manager, estimator, and construction manager and has served as a past member of the Minnesota American Institute of Architects (AIA) and is a current member of the North Dakota and National AIA. His current employment with R. L. Engebretson, P.C., now known as RLE, has allowed him to culminate his profession being the lead architect/project manager on seven of the largest Scheels stores in the upper Midwest and beyond.

Cleveland has been active in Kiwanis and has served on a number of boards and organizations including past president of Riverwood Men’s Golf Association, Bismarck, N.D., past president and member of Cotton Lake Association, Rochert, Minn. He currently serves as a supervisor of Noble Township, Cass County, N.D., secretary/treasurer of Nora Cemetery Association, counsel vice president of Nora Lutheran Church as and current sexton for Nora Cemetery, Gardner, N.D.

He and his wife, Claudia (Hanson) 1964 reside on the family farmstead established by his grandfather who emigrated from Norway and purchased the home quarter in 1892.

“Carpentry and mechanical drawing classes with Mr. Menzhuber, along with encouragement to take a second semester of mechanical drawing, led to my enrollment in architecture at North Dakota State University,” Cleveland said.

Ed Grove, 1955

Following graduation from the Northwest School of Agriculture in 1955, Ed Grove would begin working for fellow alum Leo Ash 1952 on his farm. In 1957, Grove joined the U. S. Navy seeking an education in electronics and was honorably discharged in March 1961 as Petty Officer FT2G (E5). He went on to attend West Coast University in Los Angeles, Calif., studying math, physics, and electronics graduating in 1968 with a bachelor of science degree in applied mathematics.

His first job out of the Navy was at North American Aviation working on radars similar to what he learned in the Navy. He later worked for various companies including NASA Goddard in Maryland, Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., Point Mugu Naval Air Station in California, and Union Carbide in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to name a few. He went on to a career at McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, Calif., who was later acquired by Boeing, overseeing the software development of the flight control computer for the MD-11 airplane. Grove retired from Boeing in July 2000.

He has been a member of the Sons of Norway for 22 years and served as vice president and also served on the NWSA Alumni Association Board. Grove and his wife, Marilyn, have been married for 65 years and reside in Yorba Linda, Calif.

“My academic and athletic focus was ‘do my very best with the talents and abilities I have’ which would prove helpful as a member and captain of the swim team,” Grove stated.

Gordon Syverson, 1954

Thankful for his time at the Northwest School of Agriculture, Gordon Syverson 1954, enjoyed living in the dorms, attending basketball games, and the hands-on learning he received in welding, mechanics, and carpentry. Following his time at the NWSA, Syverson attended Lutheran Bible Institute, Concordia College, and received a bachelor of arts degree in history and religion. He was ordained in 1964 serving as a pastor since that time and is a full-time, interim pastor for providing services for three congregations and records services with a crew of four to broadcast on YouTube and television.

Syverson has been active in FFA, 4-H, the Belmont Museum in Jackson, Minn., and Dunnell Senior Dining, Dunnell, Minn. He has served as the Dean of Watonwan Conference, the Board of Mission and Support, and has been a community volunteer where ever he has served including school and hospital boards. His special hobby is wood working which he was first introduced to at the NWSA.

Living away from home and family helped him to learn to stand up for his Christian beliefs.

“All of this at the NWSA filtered into my future work,” said Syverson. “We are changed in ways we cannot tell so thanks to all at NWSA.”

The NWSA was a residential high school located on the Crookston campus from 1906-68. The reunion is planned by the Office of University & Alumni Relations in cooperation with the NWSA Alumni Association board. The first summer reunion of Northwest School alumni was held in 1925. Prior to that time, it was held during the annual Winter Shows in Crookston.

The NWSA alumni reunion, first held in 1918, brings back alumni from the Northwest School of Agriculture, a residential high school located on what is now the University of Minnesota Crookston campus. The NWSA graduated its first class of 8 students in 1909.

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