2019 Alumni Society Award Recipients

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Jerry Hawton '70,  Ph.D. Animal Sciences 

Dr. Jerry Hawton epitomizes the spirit of achievement and giving back. After completing his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Hawton quickly became an asset to the animal science department. Throughout his career, he has developed Extension programs, led meetings across the country, and took extreme pride in the swine herd on campus. His work with breeders, and knowledge of pedigrees, was paramount in the evolution of elite genetics that have been readily sought by producers. Dr. Hawton is well published in both professional journals and livestock industry magazines.

Dr. Hawton’s gracious, humble, and quiet demeanor has made those around him better. To many, he is affectionately known by the name "Coach". As the central figure head of the General Livestock Judging team for 34 years, he ensured that the Gopher's were always a team to be contended with. Teaching livestock judging and animal husbandry to the youth of Minnesota was a driving passion for "Coach". Dr. Hawton has been the Swine Barn Superintendent at the Minnesota State Fair for nearly 50 years. As the swine industry evolves, he continually finds ways to innovate and elevate the competition. Dr. Hawton defines the Lifetime Achievement award with his incredible character, undying passion, fierce loyalty, inspiring humility, and unwavering patience.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Gary Dahms '69, B.S. Agricultural Business Administration

State senator and CFANS alumnus, Gary Dahms leads in a thoughtful and impactful manner. He works tirelessly to advocate for rural MN; highlighting agricultural issues and educating the workforce on policy and citizen needs. Senator Dahms is a strong advocate for agricultural education and has been a longtime supporter of FFA. Over his career, he has made countless contributions to CFANS. One of his largest contributions has been his service as a member of the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council. His knowledge of rural needs and agricultural challenges  is invaluable in guiding the council’s work. Serving on the Legislative Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources, Senator Dahms has been very instrumental in securing funds for several research projects relating to agriculture, invasive species, and pollinators. In Senator Dahms words: "I feel that there are several things we must do in order to keep rural MN strong and viable. Create a business environment that encourages research and development, job growth, business expansion, and attracts new businesses. Provide education to our students that are cutting edge and allows global economy success. We must support today’s agriculture of innovation and diversification.” These words exemplify why Gary Dahms is being recognized by the CFANS Alumni Society.

Alumni Service Award

Beth Nelson '90, Ph.D. Agronomy 

Dr. Beth Nelson is a Ph.D. graduate of the CFANS Agronomy and Plant Genetics program. Over her career, she has become a national leader in sustainable agriculture and food systems. Dr. Nelson currently serves as Regional Director of the USDA North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture, Research, and Education program. In this capacity, she administers an annual budget of $8 million dollars that funds approximately 100 research, education, and extension projects. In her work with SARE, Dr. Nelson has positively impacted millions of dollars in funding support for CFANS faculty. She has also used her extensive knowledge to provide personal mentorship to CFANS faculty members and graduate students. Dr. Nelson is an incredibly inclusive person, who is dedicated to connecting underserved audiences to grant opportunities and sustainable agriculture funding. Her immense passion for helping people and improving sustainability is evident in everything she does. Dr. Beth Nelson is an extraordinary person that the University of Minnesota is proud to call an alumnus.

Distinguished Faculty Award

Sue Galatowitsch '84, M.S. Botany 

As the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Department Head, Sue Galatowitsch has grown enrollment in the program, added capacity through new faculty positions, and overseen an incredibly challenging internal review process. Prior to taking on this roll, Sue was the Director of the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. Her incredible leadership shaped the center’s current success. In her time at MAISRC, Sue oversaw an $8 million lab renovation, managed the creation of a ten-year strategic plan, and instituted a competitive RFP process. Sue is an excellent researcher who is currently working with the center on a critically important wetlands project. Aside from her accomplishments, what makes Sue so special is her impressive ability to stay friendly, warm, and helpful. Although Sue may be modest, and doesn’t look for the spotlight, she is an inspirational leader who works tirelessly for the benefit of FWCB and CFANS.

Distinguished Staff Award

Tracy Fallon '96, B.S. Natural Resources & Environmental Studies 

Tracy Fallon goes above and beyond to provide CFANS Students with mentorship and support. She has worked extensively with the Water Resources Science Program to build a cohesive network which connects alumni, professors, community activists, and current students. Tracy will help any student in need, whether it by creating new programs, answering a question or brightening up their day.

Tracy works to build a better future for her students by providing them with crucial development opportunities, such as interacting with community members or engaging in dialogue with scientists from across the country. She is a dedicated staff member who works hard to assist her fellow faculty and staff. Tracy’s welcoming presence brings out the best in people, and she is well-known for her willingness to support everyone she meets. Tracy is more than deserving of tonight’s recognition.

Outstanding Friend Award

Tim Claus

Tim Claus has truly been an outstanding friend to the college. He works tirelessly to engage high school students with CFANS and the University of Minnesota. He has shown his dedication to growing the college, and developing its future student body, through volunteering at countless events and providing support to CFANS programs. Tim’s contributions include: Volunteering at the Roland Peterson Agricultural Education Science Fair, judging at the University of Minnesota Agricultural Education Invitational Contests, and serving as the Minnesota FFA Foundation Chair. Tim has also held leadership roles in both the Minnesota FFA Foundation and the Minnesota FFA Alumni organization. Tim is an informal mentor, cherished volunteer, and valued leader.

Outstanding Friend Award

Kristin Harner

Kristin Harner exemplifies what it means to be a friend to the college. Every year since 2014, Kristin has dedicated her time and talents to providing CFANS students with real-life mentorship during the Minnesota FFA State Convention. She puts in nearly 100 hours of volunteer work each year while coordinating the convention’s internship and media initiatives. Her efforts span from assembling teams of agriculture communicators to providing advice to individual students.  Kristin’s hard work has strengthened the partnership between FFA and the University of Minnesota- providing an invaluable service to thousands of FFA members and their families. Outside of FFA, Kristin has used her professional role at the Minnesota Farm Bureau to promote CFANS and encourage the development of current students. We could not be more grateful for Kristin’s endless dedication and care.

Student Leadership Award: Graduate

Anh Tran

Anh Tran joined the Entomology Department in 2014 and expects to earn her Ph.D. in 2020. During this time, she has proven herself to be an invaluable asset to the department. From holding multiple leadership positions in Frenate to serving as team captain of the UMN debate team, Ahn has constantly shown her passion for entomology and her fellow students. Over the years, Ahn has carried this passion into her work as a teaching assistant and  lab instructor. Currently, she serves as a student representative on the leadership board of the Entomological Society of America. Anh always makes time to volunteer on campus and is truly committed to creating a stronger CFANS community- whether it be through leading workshops and tours or advocating for her peers. We’re proud of the work Ahn has done to advance the Entomology Department and support her fellow students.

Student Leadership Award: Graduate

Samuel Reed

In his time as a graduate student, Samuel Reed has been an extremely active leader in the CFANS community. Currently, he serves as a Leadership Team Co-Chair for the Institute on the Environment’s Boreas Leadership Initiative, as well as President of the Natural Resource Association of Graduate Students (NRAGS). In these roles, Sam has made strides to improve the professional and personal development of every graduate student he comes into contact with. Sam’s leadership can be seen within his research involvement,  willingness to collaborate, commitment to other students’ academic success, and general care for others. Sam embodies the term “servant leadership” and expends incalculable time and effort to make sure that his team’s initiatives are met. His greatest legacy is not his leadership, but his ability to inspire others to become great leaders themselves.

Student Leadership Award: Undergraduate

Grace Ditch

Grace Ditch is a senior studying Forest and Natural Resource Management. She is an exceptional student who is constantly engaging with course materials and providing help to her classmates. She serves as the current president of the Forestry Club, and has displayed her leadership through the organization and planning of countless events.  Grace is known to lead the club with a passion for forestry, unmatched energy, clear organization, and relentless cheerfulness. She brings a similar flare to her work with the Women in Natural Resources Student Group, where she helps her female classmates find support and guidance in a largely male-dominated field. Grace is reliable, trustworthy, and makes everyone feel welcome. Her positive attitude and constant leadership make the Department of Forest Resources a better place to study.

Exemplary Post-Doc Award

Erin Treiber '09 '17, B.S. Ecology Evolution & Behavior, B.S. Plant and Microbial Biology, Ph.D. Plant Biological Sciences

Erin Treiber is an outstanding scientist who has dedicated large amounts of her time to bettering the working life of postdocs in CFANS. Erin initiated, and continues to lead, the CFANS Post Doc Board. This board provides postdocs with crucial support, from facilitating connections and fostering a sense of community to hosting professional development opportunities and providing conference travel funding. The Post Doc Board provides unprecedented support and community to CFANS post docs, and wouldn't have happened without Erin's leadership and hard work.

Outstanding Club Advisor Award

Mark Hove '87, B.S. Fisheries 

Mark Hove is advisor to the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology club. Tonight, he is being recognized for his unparalleled ability to provide guidance and leadership to his advisees. Beyond his curiosity and exceptional listening abilities, Mark is valued for the example he sets in his personal and professional work. His passion serves as an inspiration to every student that works with him- and his patience, empathy, and willingness to help are known across the college.  Mark’s positive attitude, extraordinary commitment to students, and understanding nature make him both an outstanding club advisor and person.

Exemplary Graduate Student Organization


Frenatae is one of the oldest and most successful graduate groups at the University of Minnesota. They boast a long history of outreach, service, and collaboration- both within the University and the wider community. The organization is open to anyone that shares a love of insects, from undergraduate students to post-docs and alumni. Members of Frenatae are always ready to impart their passion and knowledge, whether it be through honey sales, outreach events, or inviting speakers to campus. This impressive legacy of engagement and consistency makes Frenatae more than deserving of recognition.

Exemplary Undergraduate Student Organization

Agriculture Business Club

The Agriculture Business Club has shown an impressive ability to create strong partnerships with companies that are passionate about their mission and eager to connect students to opportunities. These organizations include Land O’Lakes, Cargill, and ADM. Despite being a young club, ABC has developed an impressive foundation with 90+ active members. The club prides itself on being a community with open doors; constantly welcoming new members and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard. Their exec team is committed to ensuring that the club is inclusive, transparent, and responsive to feedback- truly embodying the CFANS spirit. Everyone has a place in Ag Business Club, and we are honored to present them with this award tonight.

Little Red Oil Can, Faculty/Staff

Sara Jensen

Sara Jensen is the Undergraduate Program Coordinator for the division of Applied Economics and Agricultural Education, Communications, and Marketing. During her time spent working  in the college, Sara has become known for her infectious personality, ability to foster a sense of community, and exceptional professional skills. She has made invaluable contributions to student support, scholarship facilitation, program planning, and departmental events. From organizing a quarterly birthday celebration to acting as a constant confidant for her students, Sara is always finding ways to build a stronger community and improve the lives of those around her. Countless colleagues have taken the time to comment on Sara’s remarkable contributions to the workplace. In one of these instances, Professor Amy Smith said, “Sara is SUCH an asset to the Agricultural Education/Agricultural Communication & Marketing program areas. She serves as the face of the program to students, prospective students, and stakeholders – as well as a friendly resource person for those wandering the halls of Ruttan.”

Little Red Oil Can, Faculty/Staff

Betty Davidson

Betty Davidson has been an integral part of the St. Paul Campus and CFANS for over 30 years and during that time has made numerous contributions to the enhancement of St. Paul campus life. To quote Dean Buhr “Betty has been a tireless champion of CFANS and a consummate team player.” Her work ethic, dedication to service, and genuine care for her colleagues and community have made her an understated force towards creating a more friendly and inclusive campus environment. She is often the first to volunteer for events like scooping ice cream or helping with the Golf Scramble for Scholarships.  For years, Betty provided support, of her own accord, to the U of M School of Agriculture Alumni. She helped organize board meetings, invitations, and the annual reunion, often taking her own time on Saturdays to host the group in Coffey Hall.

Betty has donated her time and talents by being an unofficial photographer at dozens of CFANS events. Betty’s willingness to volunteer at all kinds of events on campus is legendary. There will never be another Commencement Disability Liaison like her! Beyond her volunteerism and generosity toward her colleagues, Betty stands apart for her pride in, and authentic care for, this college and the people in it. CFANS isn’t just a job she showed up for day after day, it is an institution and a community that she has invested decades into, and that has benefited greatly from her dedication.

Little Red Oil Can, Student

Joseph Ramstad

Joe Ramstad is an enthusiastic leader who sets high expectations for himself and always leads by example. Joe goes above and beyond in everything he does, from serving on the CFANS Undergraduate Student Board to being a reporter for the Agricultural Education Club. When he was the Director of Administration and Alumni Relations for FarmHouse Fraternity, Joe displayed his impressive communication skills by writing and distributing an electronic newsletter to 700 alumni, parents, and members. Joe is also a proud teaching assistant to over 650 students. He has contributed extensively to curriculum writing for the University of Minnesota by helping to write course material for numerous classes. Joe is an incredible asset to CFANS students and staff, and we are proud to recognize his work tonight.

Milestone Mentors

10 Years: Brenda Jacob and Becky Wahlund.

5 Years: Erin Cuomo, Mitchel Holliday, Emily Jerve, Matthew Kistner, Jessica Koehle, Mary Lombardi, Andrew McBride, Jim RadtkeJina Sorensen, Stacy Vossberg, and Emily Wilmes. 

Norman Borlaug Science Achievement Award: Volunteers

12 Years: Keith Wolf

11 Years: Kent Horsager

10 Years: Paul Aarsvold, Cynthia Clanton, Kent Thiesse, and Nancy Wiitanen.

8 Years: Kathryn Fernholz, Christopher Giese, Chuck Horsager, Alyson Landmark, David Lawstuen, and Rusty Nelson.

7 Years: Mark Sample

6 Years: James Anderson and Stephanie Wohlhuter. 

5 Years: Frank Bezdicek, Donald Buhl, Carole Kenneally, and Steven Olson.