Tentis helps ensure greener landscapes for students

There are thousands of miles between life on a farm in Minnesota and a golf course in California. But for College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) alumnus Mike Tentis ‘86, the ties that bind those two worlds together are strong.

Tentis grew up on a dairy farm near Kellogg and graduated from Wabasha-Kellogg High School in 1982. He earned a degree in horticulture with an emphasis in turfgrass management and set upon a career journey that took him from the dairyland of the Midwest to the golf and landscape supply industry of California. Despite spending the majority of his post-college life living in California, Tentis remains connected to his friends and family in Minnesota. He returns annually for family visits and university events such as homecoming.

Growing up in a family with limited financial means, Tentis was fortunate to earn scholarships which made it possible for him to attend UMN. He said he’s always been grateful to the taxpayers and philanthropists who afforded him the opportunity to earn his degree, and that appreciation led him to establish a scholarship. His wish is that all the Tentis Scholars plant the seeds of the future by thinking about the specific steps they can take to nurture the growth of the next generation.

Tentis believes it was his duty to give back to the university that had given him so much. He relied on other’s donations and generosity to be able to attend college, and now it was his turn to repay the favor and help the next generation pursue their dreams.

Tentis set-up the scholarship fund to help other students who come from similar backgrounds as himself: Students who may not have the financial resources to attend college on their own. Students who work hard, get good grades, plan to help future generations of students.

What further makes his donation special is its preference for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and its allies. As a man working in an industry that was not especially friendly to LGBTQ employees, Tentis knows the extra challenges this community faces. He’s always felt it’s important to speak one’s truth and honor the unique talents that every person possesses.

Gifts such as the one made by Tentis are essential to a large portion of our student body and ensure our ability to have a vibrant, diverse student body which is fundamental to our university.

The Michael W. Tentis Scholarship is available to CFANS undergraduate students studying horticulture who are in their sophomore, junior or senior year, with preference given for students with strong interest in or connection with gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and ally (GLBTA) programs or who are a member of a GLBTA group on campus.