CANR recognizes alumni and friends for excellence

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) honored leaders in agriculture and natural resources for leadership at the community, state and national levels today during the annual Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Week.

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) honored leaders in agriculture and natural resources for leadership at the community, state and national levels today during the annual Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Week luncheon at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center.

Lou Anna Simon, MSU president, and Fred Poston, dean of the CANR, presented  awards to alumni, industry leaders, faculty and staff members during the luncheon, which was held as part of the 99th annual ANR Week.            

The following awards were presented during the luncheon:           

Outstanding Agriculture Educator Award – Pat Wehner
Distinguished Faculty Award – Ajit Srivastava
Outstanding Young Alumnus Award – Katie Cook
Alumni Service Award – Paul Schmidt
Alumni Service Award – Cheryl Gilliam
Outstanding Alumnus Award – Michael Richmond
Distinguished Partner in Study Abroad – Center for International Program at the Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI)
Distinguished Service Award – Don Coe
Distinguished Service Award – Todd Forbush
Distinguished Service Award – Rodney Stokes

Outstanding Agriculture Educator – Pat Wehner

Pat Wehner has been the agriscience educator and FFA advisor at Stephenson High School in the southwestern Upper Peninsula for the past 27 years. She attended Michigan State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in dairy science and a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry in 1983 as well as a vocational agricultural education degree in 1986.

As a dedicated agriscience teacher, she has traveled more than 106,692 miles ? approximately 74 full days of driving ? often in rain, hail, sleet and snow, and blizzard conditions to and from state conventions, contests, camps, state and county fairs and decathlons.

Many Stephenson students have competed in decathlon, skills and leadership contests and received outstanding junior awards, state degrees, proficiency awards and many scholarships as a direct result of Wehner’s guidance. Since 1987, she has had at least two and up to six finalist teams or individuals at the state level.

Wehner  actively serves as a reference, assistant and consultant for many of the 4-H livestock clubs in Menominee County – helping make the agriscience students’ and FFA members’ supervised agricultural experience (SAE) projects that much stronger.

Additionally, Wehner has been an active community member, serving on the Menominee Conservation District Board and as a founding member of Menominee Sheriff Posse and Bay Area Mounted Search and Rescue Unit. She’s also been a Little League coach for both boys and girls, and a varsity girls’ softball coach. She is involved in women’s softball, bowling and golf leagues.

Wehner lives with her husband, Barry, a large-animal veterinarian, and their two sons, Cody and Chase.


Distinguished Faculty Award - Ajit Srivastava

Professor Ajit Srivastava’s long-term record of outstanding service to the CANR over 33 years, includes educational innovations, significant scholarly contributions and outstanding programmatic leadership. His contributions to academic programs in agricultural/biosystems engineering began early in his career, greatly impacting the programs at MSU and across the country.

Under his vision and leadership, the Agricultural Engineering Department became the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department. He led the effort to revitalize the curriculum for Biosystems Engineering (BE) grounded by applying engineering principles to biological systems. He established a strong Industry Advisory Board to facilitate interaction of industry members with faculty and students. The board provides continuous improvement of the program by keeping it current and relevant. He also launched the department’s flagship event, BE Showcase.

In his current role as department chair, he has remained actively engaged in teaching and academic innovations. He also personally developed and led a bioenergy study abroad program to Sweden and Germany, which continues to run.

Srivastava has made significant scholarly contributions to three areas critical to the mission of the CANR: agricultural machinery, renewable bioenergy and global systems. He has provided significant leadership in developing MSU programs, projects and faculty in the area of bioenergy systems, including leading the development of the successful, multi-departmental Quality Fund initiative for a faculty cluster hire in this area. His most significant contributions have been in assembling teams of individuals and setting them up for success.

Srivastava’s leadership as principal investigator of the $25 million U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Global Center for Food Systems Innovation and his leadership in a wide variety of other programs that build connections between MSU CANR and international partners such as universities in Costa Rica and China demonstrate his commitment to expanding the international reach of the university and the college.

Katie Cook – Outstanding Young Alumna Award

Katie Cook, district manager for Elanco, earned a dual degree from MSU in animal science and marketing. She not only completed this unusual combination of majors with a near-perfect GPA but completed her program while being involved in many leadership activities including the MSU Block and Bridle Club, the Academic Quadrathlon and the Livestock Judging Team all while working part-time at the MSU Purebred Beef unit.

Cook started at the bottom of the sales chain with Elanco Animal Health in Oklahoma before becoming a senior marketing associate in less than three years. Elanco, one of the largest pharmaceutical firms marketing animal health products in the U.S., recognized her value to the beef and pharmaceutical industries. She earned a prestigious dual Indiana University-Purdue University M.B.A.-M.S. in agricultural economics while moving rapidly into leadership positions in this organization.

Currently, Cook is the district sales manager for the southeast district in the Elanco beef business and serves as a member of the U.S. Beef Management Team. In this role, she and the seven people who report to her are accountable for the stocker cattle business for Elanco. Cook has earned the respect of her customers and colleagues because of her character, knowledge and caring attitude. As a result, she is recognized as a leader in the U.S. stocker industry.


Alumni Service Award - Paul Schmidt

After earning his bachelor’s degree from the School of Packaging in 1968, Paul Schmidt’s life has been characterized by outstanding voluntary service to packaging and MSU.

By hiring School of Packaging interns and full-time staff, testing in MSU labs, having faculty present short courses, or personally providing advice through our alumni board and industry advisory groups, Schmidt has worked to make sure the School of Packaging has remained front and center. In 1984, he secured $400 million from the Kellogg Company toward President Dr. Cecil MacKay’s capital campaign to expand the MSU School of Packaging building. While at Frito Lay, he brought faculty in to deliver short courses and lectures. After retiring from Kimberly-Clark taught the introductory packaging course several times.

In 2007, he assessed the education opportunity for packaging in the country of Dubai U.A.E. In 2009, Schmidt and Bruce Harte, professor in the School of Packaging, promoted the School of Packaging Dubai at the 2009 Gulf Pak Exposition in Dubai.

Schmidt has been administrator of the MSU School of Packaging Outreach Services since 2010. He is a lifetime member of the MSU Alumni Association and a Member of the MSU School of Packaging Alumni Association since 1968.

In 1968, he was honored as MSU School of Packaging Senior of the Year. In 1984, he received the MSU Packaging Alumni of the Year Award. In 2009, he was inducted into MSU Packaging Alumni Association Hall of Fame, and in 2013, he received the MSU Packaging Alumni Association Service Award.


Cheryl Gilliam – Alumni Service Award

Cheryl Gilliam earned her bachelor’s degree in packaging in 1982. Since graduating, she’s been a member of the MSU Alumni Association. She’s also been a member, secretary and a board member of the MSU Packaging Alumni Association. Additionally, she served on the Fundraising, Scholarship and Design Competition committees. She personally endowed a scholarship fund of more than $30,000 for qualified students wishing to pursue a career in packaging.

She’s serves as president of the MSU Varsity Alumni “S” Club and is on the club’s Board of Directors. As president, she founded the Joey M. Spano MSU Varsity Alumni ‘S’ Club Endowed Fellowship. Gilliam started the S Club Young Alumni Board Member Award and Young Alumni Award. This year the award was renamed the Cheryl M. Gilliam Young Alumni Service Award.

Gilliam is a member of the Kalamazoo MSU Alumni Club and an MSU Life Skills Advisory Board member. She is past president of the Board of Directors of the YWCA of Lake County, Ill.

Professionally, her innovation and creativity has led to several game-changing packages. As senior packaging engineer at Kellogg since 2006, she has been responsible for searching for new packaging technologies. She holds seven U.S. patents for container design and utility. While employed at Kraft, she earned many awards including the Kraft 2003 Enhancers Division Innovator of the Year Award.

Other awards include the 2005 Most Influential African American in Lake County, Ill., Martin Luther King, Jr. Award; the 2005 Michigan State University Scholar-Athlete Alumnus Award and the 2013 MSU Packaging Alumni Association Service Award.


Michael Richmond – Outstanding Alumnus Award

Michael Richmond is a former MSU assistant professor in the School of Packaging. His degrees in food science and human nutrition, as well as his tenure in packaging helped him better understand and provide enhanced integrated solutions for products and systems.

He currently is vice president of Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions (PTIS), the company he co-founded,  a recognized leading management consultancy focusing on packaging. PTIS is now owned by HAVI Global Solutions and is part of their Consulting Services business. His previous career experience includes serving as senior director of Global Technology and Packaging Innovation at Kellogg and as associate director of package development at Kraft.

Richmond is a member of the MSU Alumni Association and the MSU Packaging Alumni Association. He’s been on the MSU Industry Advisory Board since 2001 and has served as past vice president for the Kalamazoo MSU Alumni Association.

Richmond has conducted numerous consulting projects over the past 12 years with MSU School of Packaging professors. He authored or co-authored many professional publications and presented at multiple speaking events. His service to the community includes judging for the Flexible Packaging Association and DuPont Innovation awards. He’s served on the Board of Directors of the Packaging Education Foundation and co-developed a graduate research program between MSU and Kellogg.

He was inducted into the MSU Packaging Hall of Fame in 2010 and the MSU Packaging Alumni Association Honorary Hall of Fame in 2013. Packaging Strategies recognized his company, PTIS, as "Most Influential" in 2008. He received several achievement and leadership awards while working for Kellogg and Kraft.


Distinguished Partner in Study Abroad – Center for International Programs at the Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI)

The CANR and the Center for International Programs (CIP) at Tokyo University of Agriculture (TUA) (also known as Tokyo NODAI) have been university partners for 48 years, making the college TUA’s oldest partner. MSU is the only partner of TUA in the United States. CIP director Hironobu Shiwachi and former director Akimi Fujimoto have been key persons in support of the CANR’s study abroad and student exchange programs.

Every year, TUA sends one or two exchange students to the CANR for one academic year. These exchanges have been meaningful experiences for TUA students. They take academic courses and English language classes, and they learn about American culture. All credits are transferred to TUA toward graduation.

Since 2007, MSU CANR has offered a summer study program for TUA students at MSU. Each year, eight to 15 students and faculty from TUA spend three weeks at MSU studying agriculture and natural resources issues. They attend classes; visit farms, state parks and county fairs; and participate in a variety of educational activities.

CIP of TUA organizes a two-week summer study program at Joetsu Farm of TUA in Joetsu, Japan. Each year, MSU CANR students attend this summer organic farming experience.

Since 2001, MSU students have participated in the International Student Summit on Food, Agriculture and Environment organized by TUA. This is a unique experience for our students and all participating students have valued this experience. Historically, the summit takes place in Japan at TUA but in October 2012, MSU hosted the summit in partnership with TUA. Academic leaders and student representatives from more than 30 major agricultural universities from around the world attended.


Distinguished Service Award – Don Coe

Don Coe is the managing partner of Black Star Farms, an inn, winery and distillery, equestrian center and agricultural destination in northern Michigan just north of Traverse City at Suttons Bay.

He graduated from Cornell University and has extensive experience in international trade issues for wines and spirits. He is active in local economic development boards, and industry and agricultural groups.

Coe has received numerous awards including the Milliken Circle Award presented to him by the Michigan Land Use Institute in July 2012. Black Star Farms was recognized as the 100th Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MEAEP) -certified farm in Michigan. It has won numerous awards and recognition for its products.

Coe was director of the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau, executive board member of the Traverse Bay Economic Development Corporation, commissioner and chair of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Commission on Agriculture and Rural Development, policy chair of the Grand Traverse Bay Local Food Network, member of the State Wine Council and a member of the advisory board of the Great Lakes Culinary Institute. On the local level, Mr. Coe was a member of the Leelanau County Economic Development Council. He was formerly an executive with the Hiram Walker Distillery of Canada.

Coe was a member of the State Extension and AgBioResearch Council, District 3 Extension Council and the Leelanau County Extension Council. He was also Michigan delegate to the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching.


Distinguished Service Award – Todd Forbush

Todd Forbush is vice president of Techmark, Inc., which originated in 1988 under his leadership. Focusing on the post-harvest storage and ventilation of crops, the company improves the profitability of farmers through the proper application of technology and innovations.

Forbush was introduced to ventilation design while an undergraduate student working for Burt Cargill who conducted research on potato storage and ventilation design. When Cargill passed away in 1986, Roger Brook completed his potato storage research. A student worker for Brook, Forbush completed his bachelor of science in agricultural engineering and later his master’s degree. Between Cargill and Brook’s potato storage research and Forbush’s drive and experience, he became a cornerstone of the industry’s move from producing potatoes for the frozen potato industry to producing them for other uses. Forbush also promoted a new quality control program, a joint effort between Techmark and the Michigan Potato Industry Commission (MPIC). Techmark also licensed and promoted the Impact Recording Device (IRD) developed at MSU. The company commercialized the use of the IRD to assist the agricultural industry in reducing bruising of produce.

Forbush designed the MPIC-funded Burt Cargill Potato Demonstration Storage Facility at the Montcalm Research Center. He is engaged with potato growers and MSU researchers utilizing the storage.

He is a member of the CANR Alumni Association, serving on the Board of Directors and as president in 2001-02. He is also a member of the Alumni Advisory Board for the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and a member of the MSU CANR Stakeholder Advisory Board. In 2012, he received the MPIC Distinguished Service Award. He is a long-time supporter of the Michigan 4-H program, and he attends and supports numerous MSU functions.

Distinguished Service Award – Rodney Stokes

Throughout his career, Rodney Stokes has focused on ensuring that all have access to the best Michigan has to offer in the area of outdoor recreation resources. His career included a variety of positions in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) among them director of state parks, chief of staff and director. He currently serves as special advisor for city placemaking for the Office of Gov. Rick Snyder.

Stokes worked diligently to make sure that no Michigan resident would be more than an hour from a state park. He put out the welcome mat for every resident and visitor. This included introducing urbanites to the outdoors, involving youth through education, and making parks and boating access sites physically accessible to all.

He lent his experience and expertise speaking to classes of MSU students. He encouraged future professionals to strive for greatness while upholding the value of public service. He has also shepherded a number of students into professional careers through support of internship programs for CANR students.

Stokes has played a key role in facilitating academic, research and Extension programs at MSU. He provided frequent advice and facilitated multiple collaborations with faculty and students in the Department of Community Sustainability. In his administrative roles in the Michigan DNR, he also continued the DNR’s commitment to the Partnership for Ecosystem Research and Management (PERM), a unique collaboration between the agency and MSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.

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