Alumni & Friends News

Kent Thiesse '74 '92 named to the All-State School Board

Wellcome Memorial School Board member Kent Thiesse (B.S. Animal Science ‘74, M.Ed. Agricultural Education ‘92) has received the honor of being named All-State School Board. Superintendent Tom Farrell wrote in his nomination letter that he appreciates Thiesse's “unwavering support of public education and willingness to ask the tough questions and hold the administration accountable for ensuring that quality education is a priority.” While on the school board, Thiesse has helped pass bond referendums for a new secondary school, facility improvements, and for helping the district during “serious financial challenges”. 

To learn what others had to say about Thiesse, visit this article written by the Mankato Free Press.

Duane Dahlman '82 receives Premier Seedsman Award

Duane Dahlman (B.S. Agronomy '82) of Cokato, MN received the Premier Seedsman Award from the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association.  The Premier Seedsman Award, presented annually since 1929, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to the production and promotion of high quality certified seed and have been active in the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association and their local community. While he was a student at the University of Minnesota, Dahlman was also a member of the National Champion University of Minnesota Crops Judging Team.

The Dahlman family has been producing certified seed corn since 1922. Today as Dahlman Farms Inc., Duane and his brothers, Kevin and Craig, concentrate on producing traited and conventional hybrid seed corn varieties for the wholesale market. The seed they produce is distributed in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. In addition to being Chief Financial Officer, Duane is the Seed Plant Manager, responsible for the drying, processing, and bagging of their seed production. Duane is active in a number of local organizations, including the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District, local and state 4-H, and Dassel-Cokato Basketball Association. He has served on MCIA committees and on the MCIA Board of Directors, including three years as board chair. The award was presented at the MCIA Annual Meeting on January 5th in Fergus Falls.

Kevin Plante '86 '10 returns to the classroom

After a nine year hiatus from the classroom, Kevin Plante (B.S. Agricultural Education  '86; M.Ed. '10) has returned to his old stomping grounds as Ag Ed Instructor and FFA Advisor at Waterville-Elysian-Morristown High School. "The faces have changed, but it's very much the classroom I remember." says Kevin. He also stated that it has been great reacquiring himself with the community since his departure in 2007.

Karl Thorson '97 named 2016 Operations Executive of the Year

Karl Thorson (B.S. Food Science ‘97), who currently works as the food safety and sanitation manager at General Mills, was named the Baking & Snack’s 2016 Operation Executive of the Year. Thorson has been involved in the food industry for two decades, gaining experience at Pillsbury, General Mills, and the USDA.

In his current position with General Mills, Thorson works with cross-functional groups. “When I first got into this role, I thought it would be sanitation programs and executing those plans,” he said. “But I’ve learned that sanitary design is also a huge piece of it. You have to have that foundation because if the equipment isn’t designed properly, we can’t put together a good cleaning program to go with it.”

To read more about Thorson and his experience, view this feature by

Brad Johnson '97 '98 chosen for United Nations and World Health Organization Food Additives Safety Committee

Brad Johnson (M.S. Animal Science '97, Ph.D. Animal Science '98) has taken his expertise in the use of veterinary drugs for global meat-animal production to a new level. Currently the Gordon W. Davis Regent's Chair in Meat Science and Muscle Biology at Texas Tech University, he was selected to a five-year term on the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). The JECFA is administered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and involves international food safety experts who ensure the safety of food additives and evaluate contaminants, naturally occurring toxicants, and residues of veterinary drugs in food.  His term will begin this year and run through 2021. Learn more.

Olivia LeDee '05 '08 appointed Deputy Director of the Northeast Climate Science Center

Olivia LeDee (M.S. Conservation Biology '05; Ph.D. Conservation Biology '08) has been appointed by U.S. Geological Survey as Deputy Director of the Northeast Climate Science Center. Prior to joining the NE CSC, Olivia was with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in the Division of Fish & Wildlife as a planning and policy consultant.  She has worked closely with state agencies in the Midwest to address issues related to climate change and emerging threats to wildlife and natural systems.  In addition to finding solutions for the impacts climate change has on wildlife, Olivia has worked in planning, public engagement, decision analysis, natural resource policy, and conservation funding. Learn more.

Liz Zaremba '12 answers CBS Minnesota’s Question: How often should we snack?

Liz Zaremba (B.S. Nutrition '12), was recently featured on the "Good Question" Segment on CBS Minnesota News, where she helped answer the question, "How often should we snack?" Zaremba, a registered dietitian with University of Minnesota Health, shared, "It all depends on the person – your activity level, your metabolism and what are your weight loss or weight gain goals." She also told CBS News that snacking can help those who want to gain weight as well as those who are attempting to lose weight. For healthy snacks, she recommends carbohydrates to satisfy your appetite right away, and fats that will stick with you for longer. Snacks can also be a great way to increase how many fruits and vegetables you incorporate into your daily diet. Ultimately, in terms of how often we should snack, the important thing is net balance: your total daily intake. Learn more through her video here. 

Dereck Deutz '15 launches Columbia Imports

Dereck Deutz (B.S. Agriculture Industries & Marketing: International Agriculture ‘15) has launched a new business called Columbia Imports in his hometown of Marshall, Minnesota. Columbia Imports sells fresh roasted coffee, tea and natural food products from around the world. The company’s goal is to promote sustainable agriculture through international trade by recognizing each country/region for what they best and traditionally produce. This idea stemmed from Deutz’s years of studying Agricultural Industries & Marketing and International Agriculture at the U and seeing the growing interest and awareness of where and how our food is produced. 

While the original intention was to sell wine, coffee and tea from the world's premiere growing regions, unfortunately the State of Minnesota does not allow wine to be sold in grocery stores, so Columbia Imports is currently focusing on selling coffee, tea, olive oil, spices, nuts, grains and dried fruit. Throughout the season, Deutz will also be selling local produce from his family farm and from local producers. If CFANS alumni and friends know of any specialty food producers looking to expand into a new market, feel free to contact Deutz at, at 507-530-0765, or and