CROOKSTON, Minn. - Before becoming partners in life, Holly and Kip Kovarik were active classmates and Skyberg Hall residents in the late 90s at the University of Minnesota Crookston. When I use the term active, I am referring to how involved they were on campus. For instance, Holly was involved in a variety of clubs and organizations.  Whether it be student government, animal science club, or the Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources office, her college experience was hands-on to say the least. “I think these opportunities outside the classroom along with key internships were all ingredients in my future success,” says Holly Kovarik. 

Since 2001, Holly has built up quite the resume from being a staffing coordinator out of college all the way to becoming District Manager for Pope Soil and Water Conservation District starting in 2013.  Kovarik credits Dr. Lyle Westrom, Agriculture, and Natural Resources professor at U of M Crookston for not only being her advisor, but also a mentor throughout her collegiate career. Holly also gives honorable mention to Dave Hoff, Richard Nelson, and who else but Michelle Christopherson for molding her into the professional she is today. Working in departments all around campus equipped Kovarik with many skills she uses in her current position as well as her personal activities and organizations that she is a part of. “UMC faculty and staff were very welcoming to the students. It was a great experience for me and we (Holly & Kip) have so many lasting friendships from our time there.

Now, taking a trip over to the opposite wing of Skyberg Hall, we have Kip Kovarik, a U of M Crookston Ag Industries Sales and Management graduate and husband to Holly. Kip finished his degree in 1999 and was instantly offered a position in Agronomy Sales and Application in Cooperstown, ND where he states that his parents also kickstarted their careers. A few years prior, a mutual friend introduced both Holly and Kip, and, well, the rest is history as many would say.  After the knot was tied, Kip joined Holly in their current hometown of Glenwood, MN. After a 10-year career working at the John Deere dealership in town, Kip decided to get back into agronomy sales and location manager at CHS (Cenex Harvest States). He made another leap and is currently District Sales Manager for LG Seeds in west-central Minnesota.

When asked about his time at UMNCrookston, Kip Kovarik had a firm but elegant take on the curriculum. “A lot of great professors knew what kind of individuals were needed in the Ag Industries. The coursework did NOT pigeonhole students into one avenue, rather a network of freeways where one could decide how to navigate” Kovarik states.  “Having a positive college experience with many great faculty and staff supporting you on your education journey is by far the best way to be sent out into the workforce.”  When asked what specific staff member impacted him, he credits Paul Aakaree, his academic advisor and work-study supervisor for getting him into the Ag Industries Club, of which he would later become president.  Kovarik also mentions that Aakaree was a scripture reader at their wedding, so he credited him for that as well.

The Kovariks encourage future students to not hesitate and get involved on campus. Along with that, take advantage of internships offered in town and around the school to gain some ground with future employers. Whether it be campus clubs and organizations, meeting professors, friends, or even future loved ones. One just might find everything they seek in one place. In their case, it was becoming a Golden Eagle.

Story Contact: Shawn Smith