By Shannon Schlecht
AURI Executive Director
Greetings and welcome to spring! For those of us in Minnesota and the upper Midwest region, this is a time of new growth. After a long winter, the grass starts greening up, flowers begin to bloom, trees start to bud, and the change in the weather inspires many of us to explore and seek something new—be it new ideas, new approaches or new experiences.
In that spirit, AURI has some new faces to start 2021 as board elections were held in January. I’m pleased to announce three new individuals joined AURI’s Board of Directors. They include Senator Gene Dornink, Representative Mike Sundin and Erin Heitkamp who fills an agribusiness seat.
Senator Dornink is from the Preston area of southern Minnesota and is in his first term in the Senate, while Representative Sundin lives in Esko and was reelected to his 5th term. Ms. Heitkamp comes to AURI as the vice president of impact at Pipeline Foods. In the coming months, you will get a chance to learn more about each of them through the Ag Innovation News’ ongoing Board Q&A column. We begin this edition with Ms. Heitkamp.
I hope you will join me in welcoming these extraordinary individuals to AURI’s Board of Directors!
Another big change, which you may have heard about earlier this year, is AURI’s active participation in the new Ag Innovation Campus in Crookston, Minn. The purpose of this new campus is to increase economic opportunities for farmers by helping them maximize crop value through new value-added processing and research and take advantage of market prospects in biodiesel, soybean oil, soybean meal and niche/novel oilseed crops.
In continuing AURI’s 30-plus year presence in Crookston, we plan to open a new office and lab facility on the campus to capitalize on the synergies of its goals and AURI’s mission to foster long-term economic benefit to Minnesota through value-added agricultural products.
These are just a couple of examples of recent and upcoming changes at AURI that I believe will lead to increased innovation. I’m excited to see what 2021 has in store for AURI’s expert staff and knowledgeable Board of Directors.
In the meantime, I invite you to read on and learn about all the exciting work AURI is involved with in the areas of food, coproducts, biobased products and renewable energy. In this edition, AURI brings you stories about two current clients, Sarah’s Tipsy Pies and Pea Pawd, as well as a feature on the potential agricultural and energy opportunities for green ammonia. Regardless of your interests, I guarantee you will find these articles to be both interesting and educational.