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Longtime Ag Innovation News editor steps down

With this issue of Ag Innovation News, managing editor Cindy Green steps down as the leader of a publication she helped launch in 1992.

For two decades — first as AURI’s communications director, and later as a freelance editor — Green set the standard for Ag Innovation’s lively stories and engaging photos and graphics. “So much technical information and research comes with its own lingo,” she says. “We wanted to put out a publication that is easy to read — and fun to read.”

The colorful quarterly publication has always been intended for a broad audience. That’s important at a time when most people no longer have a direct connection to agriculture, Green says. “The newspaper gives them a window into what’s going on in Minnesota agriculture. It’s not
just farming.”

Along with stories about AURI projects and research, Ag Innovation News features profiles of Minnesota entrepreneurs and innovators. “It’s inspiring when you see the innovative work people are doing, whether in the research lab or a small business,” Green says. Some of her favorite stories over the years have been about creative — and sometimes offbeat — entrepreneurs.

Take Canton, Minn., hazelnut breeder Phil Rutter, whose orchard included a three-stall outhouse with large window views of the woods, worthy of House Beautiful.

Or the VanDerPol Family of Kerkhoven, Minn., makers of Pastures A Plenty free-range pork products. The VanDerPols are state leaders in raising hogs in pastures and open, straw-filled barns. “I went out there and the little pigs were playing and digging in the straw. I called it the ‘happy pigs’ story.”

Or Lucy Steinkamp, of Hinckley, Minn., a French transplant who so missed the rich sheep milk products of her homeland that she founded La Paysanne, which produced sheep milk cheese and ice cream.

Green oversaw many special focus editions of Ag Innovation News, which gave readers an in-depth look at subjects ranging from alternative energy, to food marketing, to novel uses for crop residues. “My favorite was an issue on what it takes to be an entrepreneur,” she says. The 1994 special edition included tell-it-like-it-is advice from innovators who came to AURI for help turning ideas into
successful enterprises.

Green, of Stillwater, is herself an entrepreneur. She grew up on a farm in Big Stone County and earned degrees in journalism and American studies from Minnesota State University Moorhead. After college, she bought a small Minnesota weekly newspaper, the Milan Standard-Watson Journal, which she published for three years. Reflecting Green’s wit and sense of fun, her newspaper’s banner featured a Viking riding a goose. (Milan has a proud Norwegian heritage, and Watson bills itself as the goose capital of the world.) Later, Green worked as development director for Pioneer Public Television in Appleton, Minn.

Green joined AURI in 1988, when it was part of what is now Minnesota Technology. She served as AURI’s communications director until 1996, when she left to start a communications consulting business. She wrote and produced a public television documentary, “Country Spires,” which was nominated for two regional Emmy awards in 2000. The three-part series explored the history and architecture of rural churches in the Upper Midwest.

In 2007, Green became development director for Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa. The nonprofit offers young people service-learning opportunities in natural resource management, energy conservation and emergency response. In addition to her work in conservation, she is partnering on another new venture, a vacation
rental business.

Reflecting on her long tenure at Ag Innovation News, Green says “it feels like AURI is part of my DNA. It has been an incredible experience being part of the organization’s growth, challenges and transitions. I grew up on a farm, owned a rural business, and will always be strongly committed and connected to agriculture and rural Minnesota.”

“We have so appreciated Cindy’s long-term great work and insights,” says Teresa Spaeth, AURI executive director. “It will be very hard to fill her shoes, and she’ll be sorely missed.“