Alumni, industry leaders to be honored during ANR Week Luncheon

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources will honor nine leaders in agriculture and natural resources for leadership at the community, state and national levels during the annual ANR Week luncheon March 10.

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at Michigan State University will honor nine leaders in agriculture and natural resources for leadership at the community, state and national levels during the annual Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Week luncheon at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center March 10.

MSU Provost June Youatt and CANR Dean Fred Poston are scheduled to be on hand during the luncheon, which is held annually. This year marks the 100th celebration of ANR Week.

The CANR Alumni Association will bestow five awards during the luncheon, the CANR dean gives three Distinguished Service Awards, and the Outstanding Agriculture Educator of the Year is recognized.

Outstanding Agriculture Educator of the Year

The Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award will be presented by Consumers Energy and DTE Energy to Jason Griffiths, of Ionia, who has taught at the Heartlands Institute of Technology in Ionia County schools for 19 years. He has worked with 78 FFA State Degree recipients, 18 members who earned their American FFA Degree and State Stars in Placement. Nine of Griffiths’ FFA teams have won state skills contests. The award recognizes a Michigan agriculture, food and natural resources teacher who has been active in his or her community, region and state in promoting the National FFA Organization’s vision. 

CANR Alumni Association Awards

Rick Brandenburg will receive the Distinguished Faculty Award, which recognizes a faculty member who has brought distinction to the CANR through teaching, research or outreach and provided leadership that has helped students, faculty members or citizens reach their potential for excellence. An MSU alumnus, Brandenburg has been a member of the faculty for 37 years. He is assistant dean in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs in the CANR and lives in Laingsburg. 

Suzanne Fisher, sustainability and packaging consultant at Pratt Industries, will receive the Outstanding Alumnus Award. The award is given annually to an alumnus who distinguishes him- or herself by obtaining the highest level of professional accomplishments and who possesses the highest standards of integrity and character. Fisher has worked in the packaging industry since her graduation in 1983 for Lacks Industries, Herman Miller Inc. and Pratt. She has also contributed time and talent to the MSU and Packaging Alumni Association boards. Fisher, who lives in Byron Center, was presented with the MSU Packaging Alumni Association Hall of Fame Award in 2014.

Former MSU football standout Travis Key will receive the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award for his work as an associate packaging engineer at the Kellogg Company and his work with 4th and 1, a nonprofit athletic and academic camp for student athletes from under-resourced backgrounds. Key, a Portage resident, is a member of several other groups, including the MSU Varsity S club, the Packaging Alumni Association and the NFL Players Association.

Landscape architect Robert Ford will receive the Alumni Service Award. Ford, a 1975 MSU alumnus, is president and founder of Landscape Architects and Planners Inc. He is also president and co-founder of Bauer-Ford Reclamation, a consulting firm that aids the mining industry in following best management practices in a systematic and ecologically sensitive manner. Additionally, Ford, of Laingsburg, is president and founder of the MSU Landscape Architectural Alumni Advisory Board, which annually presents a speakers series and plays an instrumental role in raising funds for the School of Planning Design and Construction at MSU

Nancy Thelen will receive the Honorary Alumnus Award. This award is given to a person who has provided a contribution to the CANR on a state, national or international level. An MSU Extension educator for agricultural literacy, Thelen is responsible for the overall management of the Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF) program. BOTF events give consumers and farm neighbors a firsthand look at modern food production and the farm families who produce a safe, wholesome food supply for Michigan communities. Thelen lives in Ann Arbor.

Distinguished Service Awards

Three honorees will receive College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Distinguished Service Awards during the ANR Week Luncheon. Distinguished Service Awards are given to individuals or partners who have made outstanding contributions to Michigan’s agriculture and natural resources industries, and who possess high standards of integrity and character and positively reflect and enhance the prestige of the CANR. They demonstrate a commitment to MSU and the CANR by continuing outstanding levels of leadership and volunteerism at the state, national or international level.

This year’s Distinguished Service Award recipients are:

Tickets for the luncheon are on sale for $30 and are available at

The luncheon will be hosted by the CANR, MSU AgBioResearch, MSU Extension and the CANR Alumni Association, with support from Consumers Energy and DTE Energy. 

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