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2019-20 Award Winners

By May 29, 2020Uncategorized

On May 21, 2020 our 2019-20 FCS Professionals award winners were announced.

FCS Professional of the Year


This award recognizes a member for leadership in their profession and outstanding service to this organization. This is the highest organizational award a member can receive.

This year’s winner is Karen Smith, a highly respected FACS professional accomplishing much in the business world, education arena, and her community.

She is currently a company spokesperson, ambassador and educator. Because of her agriculture background and knowledge of North Dakota agriculture products she is often invited to travel with the North Dakota Trade Office. She has met and interacted with dignitaries from Spain, Italy, Peru and Mexico.

Prior to her current position she served as a longtime middle School FACS teacher. Her programs received numerous recognitions. Through her “Patchwork of Kindness” project, students made quilts, held a raffle, and gave the proceeds of over $10,000 to community groups.

In her last ten years of teaching she became passionate about school gardens and used grant money to help build 17 raised bed gardens with two being handicap accessible. She saw the value in the gardens as it taught sustainability, health, nutrition, a healthy leisure time activity, and food preparation skills.

She is also very active in her church and volunteers in the her community. Faithfully on Wednesday nights during the school year you’ll find her helping to prepare and serve 100 meals for a community dinner at her church and afterwards teaching a Tweens class. She also enjoys visiting shut-ins and the elderly in her community, often bringing them a gift of home-cooked food.

As our President-Elect she is not idle but making plans, writing goals and appointing board positions. When August rolls around, she will have her thoughts in place prepared to articulate a clear vision to her board. She is known for her integrity, honesty, humility and clear focus. She’s a strategic planner and believes in teamwork. She’ll make certain the board stays focused on their tasks and goals, keeping them motivated and helping all to achieve their plans!

Behind-the-Scenes Star Award

This award recognizes a member who works diligently to execute programming, results, and/or innovation within the organization but isn’t in any formal position on the board (board members are not eligible for this award). This year’s winner is Pam Voelkel.

Pam was a member for only a month when she tapped the MN Pork Producers and the MN Pork Board for a $500.00 donation to be used for FCS Professionals programming. The donation was financial support for our January meeting held at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.

This financial help allowed us to provide top-notch AV equipment and a sit-down dinner with table linens. The space was large enough for mingling/conversation, in-room registration and display tables as well as excellent viewing of the evening presenters.  The donation aided in keeping registration costs affordable allowing many to attend.

Volunteer of the Year Award

This award recognizes a member who represents the community-involvement-spirit of FCS Professionals through the community outreach or enrichment they perform.  This year’s winner is Gerry Luepke.

Gerry volunteers her time, talent and resources to help FCS Professionals, MAFCS, TCHC and Hudson Home and Garden Club plan amazing events and excursions. She puts in countless hours to help plan and implement interesting and informative meetings.

She is knowledgeable about current issues and trends in the marketplace and helps to bring those topics to the membership of the organizations. She also mentors individuals in her community including a single mom.

The Spirit Award

This award recognizes a member that has shown particular championing behavior for FCS Professionals. Dr. Julie Miller-Jones is this year’s recipient.

Julie is a frequent speaker for many professional conferences and consumer organizations, locally, nationally and internationally. Knowing that several of us would be fielding questions about COVID-19 and food handling she shared pertinent info with our members via email. She’s given great ideas for programming for our organization including Zoom webinars for the months when we are not able to meet in person.

Making a Difference Award

This award recognizes professionals who are new to their industry, have been members of FCS Professionals for 5 years or less, and have made a notable contribution to the organization. Royalee Rhoads was awarded this honor.

Royalee joined FCS Professionals just this year and already she is being noticed! She comes to every meeting with a bright smile and a cheery personality. In April she accepted a board position as our new blog and social media coordinator.

Congratulations to all of our award winners.  We are so thankful for all of your contributions to our organization!




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