The University of Minnesota Crookston held its biennial Torch & Shield donor recognition banquet and awards ceremony November 1 with a social and program in the historic Kiehle Building followed by an elegant meal for invited guests. Professor Emeritus Albert Sims, Ph.D., and the Crookston Baseball Association were awarded and recognized for their support of the University. Featured speakers of the evening included student scholarship recipients Chase Nelson and Alexis Swendra, University of Minnesota Foundation Associate Vice President of College and Campus Programs Jan Sickbert, Center for Rural Education, Science & Technology (CREST) leaders and campus representatives, along with a musical performance by the U of M Crookston Choir.

Albert Sims dedicated over 26 years to the University of Minnesota Northwest Research and Outreach Center (NWROC) as both the director of operations and a researcher. Sims started with the NWROC in 1995 and earned tenure and was promoted to associate professor in 2001 in the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate in the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). He conducted and extended research information dealing with fertility and fertilizer management as it pertained to the cropping systems in northwest Minnesota. His focus was on nitrogen and phosphorus management associated with sugar beet production and the sugar beet industry. Sims also worked in fertility management in spring wheat production.

Participating in countless crop and soil trials, his expertise contributed to a variety of publications including Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council Research Reports, Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, and for the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board of Minnesota and North Dakota’s research reports. Over the years, he was a member of the American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, Soil and Water Conservation Society, and the American Society for the Advancement of Science.

Sims earned his bachelor of science and master of science degrees in agronomy from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, and his doctorate in soil science from North Carolina State University.

“I’m receiving this, not necessarily because I was anything wonderful, but because I happened to be part of a team that was absolutely wonderful, and, for that, I thank you very much,” said Sims during his acceptance speech at the 2023 Torch & Shield event.

The Crookston Baseball Association was incorporated in 2009 which began with a concessions stand at the Jim Karn Baseball Field. Since becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and adding a gambling license with gaming at four different sites, they have raised considerable funds and made impactful donations to local baseball and softball programs.

Significant projects they’ve supported include the University of Minnesota Crookston baseball field press box and seating behind home plate, Karn baseball field scoreboard, stadium seating and field upgrades, and baseball and softball equipment and supplies for youth to collegiate players, just to name a few. The Crookston Baseball Association has also provided athletic scholarships for U of M Crookston students in both baseball and softball and has contributed close to $50,000 annually to the University for a number of years.

Board members say their impact has been monumental, and meaningful contributions are a direct result of being able to share funds from their gaming profit. From their first years selling hot dogs and raising a few thousand dollars to now donating tens of thousands a year to local programs has left them feeling fortunate. Their support of U of M Crookston’s baseball and softball programs is to ensure prolonged success and competitiveness, and they’ve seen desirable results since starting those partnerships.

The Crookston Baseball Association is composed of officers and board members which include youth, high school, intramural, and University baseball and softball coaches.

“It’s been the Baseball Association’s honor and privilege to provide financial assistance to the University of Minnesota Crookston’s baseball and softball programs,” said Corky Reynolds on behalf of the Crookston Baseball Association during their acceptance of the honor at the 2023 Torch & Shield event. “Each of us in the Crookston Baseball Association either grew up playing the game, watching the games on television, or going to games with our friends and family. We want to bring that same love of the game to all those we can affect.” 

View the 2023 Torch & Shield event photo gallery here

Story Contact: Brandy Chaffee