2017 Alumni Society Award Recipients

Rachel Kircher BNEStudent Leadership Award: Undergraduate

Rachel Kircher '17 (B.S. Agricultural Communications & Marketing and Animal Science) 

Rachel has demonstrated her ability to motivate students to become involved and flourish in CFANS through her ability to lead and serve others. Rachel has had a hand in the organization of many events for students - such as meetings with the CFANS dean Brian Buhr, student thought forums, and Picnic on the Plaza. Rachel currently serves as the President of the CFANS Undergraduate Student Board and has also held leadership positions in Lambda Delta Phi, Gopher Poultry Science Club, and Minnesota Royal. Rachel’s desire to push others to succeed, her approachable personality, and professionalism leave those she interacts with no option but to be inspired and motivated by her. CFANA is grateful for Rachel’s selflessness, dedication, and passion for CFANS and the University of Minnesota Student Body.


Student Leadership Award: Graduate

Gerald Presley BorealisGerald Presley '18 Ph.D. Bioproducts & Biosystems Science, Engineering and Management

 Beyond Gerry’s numerous professional accomplishments as a Ph.D. candidate, which include an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and a year abroad in Africa as a USAID Fellow, he also embodies the qualities of a student leader. Notably, Gerry is the President and Founder the University of Minnesota Mycology Club. If you have ever purchased shiitake, winecap, or oyster mushrooms outside the Dairy and Meat Salesroom, you have Gerry to thank for organizing the mushroom growing efforts and the corresponding fungal outreach. All of these have been volunteer efforts, with mushroom sale proceeds going towards member activities. He continues to lead the group with the earnest goal of increasing conversations about science. These have spilled over into citizen science efforts, outreach programs, and workshops meant to double as fun and as a demonstration that science and scientists are valuable assets. Gerry's warmth, inclusion, and drive have contributed a great deal to the campus community. 


Outstanding Friend Award

Marvin Bauer BorealisMarvin Bauer

Marvin Bauer has dedicated over thirty years to CFANS as a Professor of Remote Sensing, Director of the Remote Sensing & Geospatial Analysis Laboratory, and as a leader in his field. He mentored and taught numerous students in his courses, which remain core curriculum for undergraduate and graduate students in forestry, wildlife, conservation, and geospatial studies. Marvin was not only a friend to the students he taught and mentored, but he served the college by establishing an endowed fellowship in CFANS. Marvin is a gracious philanthropist as well, establishing a bequest for a faculty chair in the Department of Forest Resources and another in his late wife’s name that will benefit Extension and the College of Education. CFANS grateful to have a friend that models and exemplifies leadership, philanthropy and dedication like Marvin.


Distinguished Staff Award

Bob Craven BorealisRobert Craven '78 '81 B.S. Animal Science, M.S. Agricultural Economics

Bob Craven is an innovative, dedicated and passionate leader and educator who has positively impacted many students, professionals, and thousands of farmers. After graduating in 1981 with an M.S. in Agricultural Economics, Bob joined the farm management team as an Extension Educator in Ag and Applied Economics. In 1984, Bob worked with Richard Hawkins and college administration to create the Center for Farm Financial Management. In 1997, Bob became Director and today manages a center with a budget of over $2.2 million. Bob was instrumental in the adoption of FINPACK software as a tool for ag credit analysis, and his leadership encouraged the adoption of the software by Extension services in over 20 states as the primary tool to save farms during the 1980s farm crisis. Bob has also been Principal Investigator for over $50 million dollars worth of grants successfully competed for by the Center for Farm Financial Management. For over 30 years, Bob has provided leadership to University of Minnesota Extension and the Department of Applied Economics, as well as continually showing dedication to the financial well-being of farmers through coordination of educational events, speaking at conferences, and specifically assisting with the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill. Bob also keeps it all in perspective by owning and operating a 1200-acre farm in Southwestern Minnesota. Bob is truly an asset to the university community and agricultural industry. 


Distinguished Faculty Award

Michael Boland '90 M.S. Agricultural Education

Since joining the University of Minnesota faculty in 2010, Dr. Michael Boland has proven he is a talented, flexible, and dedicated faculty member. Mike has advised four doctoral students and four masters students to completion over the past six years, leading them to faculty or industry positions. As Director of the Food Industry Center, Mike was able to reposition the center to complement the undergraduate teaching program by launching a series of luncheons for students that feature CFANS alumni speakers who work in the food industry. Mike also successfully teaches a wide variety of courses and has recently been working with CFANS leadership on collaboration opportunities for students with the Carlson School of Management at the graduate level. Mike also played a key role in the development of a course that provided 22 students the opportunity to work on a project for a dairy cooperative in Ireland. They had the chance to present their results to more than 80 individuals from farming families in Ireland. The Department of Applied Economics recently nominated Dr. Boland as a Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association because of his outstanding achievements and dedication to his students’ success.


Alumni Advocate Award

Lee Thompson BorealisLee Thompson '79, B.S. Agricultural Education

A 1979 graduate of the University of Minnesota with a B.S. Degree in Agricultural Education, Lee Thompson spent 35 years as an agricultural education teacher at Goodhue High School and now serves CFANS as an instructor for two Agricultural Technology courses. During his teaching years, Lee encouraged his students to attend CFANS to meet their career goals and be involved alums. He included many Extension personnel in his agricultural education classes as guest speakers, members of his advisory committee, for field trips, and for assistance with FFA activities. Lee also collaborated with the University of Minnesota Agricultural Education Program serving as a cooperating teacher and mentors prospective teachers during early field experience and student teaching. Lee is continually looked to for advice and mentoring of other agricultural education teachers and has been recognized by his peers for his teaching ability and professionalism. Lee was named the Minnesota Outstanding Teacher Mentor (2007), Minnesota Agricultural Education Teacher of the Year (2012), and was inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame (2015).


Alumni Service Award

Norm Sieling BorealisNorm Sieling '79, B.S. Agricultural Education

As an attendee of nearly every single Golf Scramble for Scholarships Tournament since 2004 and a committee member for the former Mankato Golf Scramble, Norm Sieling has contributed immensely to the CFANS community through his consistent philanthropic efforts. Even greater is the impact he has had on student success. After a nearly 40-year distinguished career as an agricultural education teacher at Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial High School, Norm served as a senior mentor for the Minnesota Teacher Induction Program. From 1999-2010, he supported and guided 46 first-year agricultural teachers. Norm had a key role in the careers and lives of each of the new teachers he mentored. Norm is anchored by his belief in service and giving back. I recently spoke to a highly successful agricultural education teacher who is in his 12th year of teaching. Norm was his senior mentor as a new teacher. He shared that “Norm always told me that supporting my students was important work. Yes, we teach classes in agriculture, food, and natural resources. But we also need to be there for our students, and help them to grow as a person and find their career passion.”


Alumni Service Award

Matt Wohlman BorealisEmily Nachtigal BorealisEmily Nachtigal '12, B.S. Applied Economics
Leah Peterson '03 B.S. Natural Resources Planning, Policy, and Law
Matthew Wohlman ’03 B.S. Animal Production Systems

For the first time, three individuals are being recognized for an Alumni Service award. These three CFANS Alumni decided to complement students’ education by designing—from scratch— the CFANS Policy Engagement Program (PEP), now in its 5th year. The program gives students insights into the legislative process with Minnesota policy professionals. These alumni offer students unequaled access to contract lobbyists, state agency leaders, elected officials, issue advocates and citizen influencers. Students gain a real feel for the nuances of negotiating across multiple interests and how the political and legislative process shapes policy, and it is thanks to Emily, Leah, and Matt, who decided to put in the time and energy to make this program a reality.


Distinguished Alumni Award

Terry Ferriss BorealisTerry Ferriss '77 '80, M.S. Horticulture, Ph.D. Horticulture

Terry Ferriss is a proud alumna of the University of Minnesota, having completed both her Master's and Ph.D. in Horticulture here. Throughout her 37 year decorated career in teaching and research at UW-River Falls, Terry has been especially dedicated to three areas of horticulture - undergraduate education; regional and national industry, and many professional associations. She is best known for her devotion to the teaching, mentoring, and development of horticulture students. More often than not, she’d walk in the door at home around 7:30 in the evening, dinner long on the table, saying “Sorry, I had students lined up out the door ”. She served as the academic advisor for 30-70 undergraduate students annually, helping those students understand their professional and sometimes personal goals, mentoring them along paths that enabled them to land in prestigious graduate programs or in the horticulture industry. She also committed time and energy to develop scholarships for students to help ensure access to horticultural education and professional development. The numerous letters she’s received over the years from previous students are fitting testaments to the many ways she has served the industry through her pedagogy and advising.Terry has also held a variety of significant leadership roles as a professor, Assistant Dean, Assistant to the Vice Chancellor, Plant and Earth Science Department Chair, and now Professor Emerita, and has led multiple committees with the aim of improving the UW-River Falls community and its academic rigor. She is an honored alumna who has contributed a great deal to her students, the horticultural industry, and the academic discipline.


Lifetime Achievement Award

Alan Ek BorealisAlan Ek '64 '65, B.S. Forestry, M.S. Forestry

Alan Ek has admirably served CFANS as well as the professional forestry community for over 40 years. Alan was appointed Head of the Department of Forest Resources in 1983, and was the longest serving Department Head within CFANS upon his retirement last June. During his tenure, he developed and taught many courses and was active in graduate education - advising 36 Masters and 18 PhD students to degree completion. His leadership and mentorship of faculty led the undergraduate forestry program to a national number one ranking. Alan was also known for his work diversifying the faculty, hiring the first female faculty member in the department in 1990. Now about half of the faculty are female. Over his career Dr. Ek has received a number of prestigious awards and appointments including the Society of American Forestry Fellow and Research Chair of the National Association of Professional Forestry Schools. These and the many other awards and distinctions have come about because of Dr. Ek’s commitment to his department, college, university and to the students, staff, and faculty with whom he has worked. His peers and colleagues across the university community value his knowledge, his willingness to work collaboratively, his capacity to work across disciplines, and his ability to turn research into meaningful outcomes and products that advance knowledge and solve problems.