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May 2020

2019-20 Award Winners

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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!




2019-20 Annual Meeting and Awards Night

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Our 95th year of FCS Professionals began at Allianz Field marveling at the diverse food service operations at the brand new soccer stadium.  We ended our year in the comfort of our homes, connected to each other through WebEx! The year could not have ended more different than it started.  The one thing that has not changed in our ninety-five years of existence is our resilience, our creative solutions to problems, and the connection between members through our shared passion of food and consumer science!

Our 2019-20 Annual Meeting and Awards was held online Thursday, May 21 from 7:00-8:15 p.m.  We welcomed John Yuccas as our speaker for the evening with the topic, “Food Photography in the Age of Social Media.”  John was slated to be our speaker at our March meeting that was cancelled.  We were thrilled that he was able to provide his content over WebEx for our May meeting!  John started his photography journey with nature. He dabbled in wedding photography but did not find his passion until he discovered food photography.  As he shared his photos throughout the evening, this passion was so evident.  He said the goal in photography was to, “create images not take snapshots.”  As a food photographer it is his job to tell the story of an establishment.  He really tries to capture the moment and show a “behind-the-scenes” look also including the guest experience in his photographs.  He currently owns his own photography business, The Culinary Portfolio.

John gave several tips throughout the evening.  First, one does not need a lot of fancy equipment to take excellent pictures.  Cell phone cameras have come a long way and include some basic editing features and lighting options.  He recommended doing an Internet search for directions for your personal cell phone of how to expose or adjust the lighting.  John also stated that psychologically, people will think a food item looks less appetizing if it is in cool light vs. warm light.  The photos below show the range from warm to cool lighting.


Choosing the correct angle is also very important!  

Close to 0 degrees–Subjects that stand tall

45 degrees– Capturing details, stacking subject matter

90 degrees–Overhead perspective, great for flat lays and flat subjects

Near the end of his presentation he discussed the current restaurant situation with so many struggling due to Covid-19 shutdowns.  He talked about how he has changed the way he takes photographs including taking food home and photographing it there.  He suggested ways of helping restaurants beyond just getting take-out including purchasing other items from them like a t-shirt or a hat–anything to help their cash flow.  John said that telling the story of the restaurant is more important than ever.  They might emphasize their safety measures vs. just delicious looking food.

John has also started an additional business where he sells 5×7 prints on metal that do not require any additional framing.  All you need is a hammer, nail, and a little wall space!

After John’s presentation we began our annual meeting and encouraged guests to remain online with us!  President Vicky Cherne welcomed all.  The minutes from last year’s meeting were adjusted and then approved.  Due to the online format of our annual meeting, the year in review, introduction of the new board, and award winners were put into a video.  To view the video, click here 

Thank you to our 2019-20 Board Members

President Vicky Cherne

President Elect Karen Smith

Advisor Jean Knaak

Treasurer Liz Sellet

Secretary Molly Lass

Program Co Chairs: Colleen Glenn and Gerry Luepke

Membership Chair Marge Ryerson

Nominations Lisa Krause

Blog Chair Susan Vance

Newsletter Editor Sierra Kaptain

Conference Lead Colleen Zenk

CE Application Processor Marie Winker

Administrative Assistant Tanya Hamilton

Introducing our new board for 2020-21

President Karen Smith

President Elect Susan Vance

Advisor Vicky Cherne

Treasurer Liz Sellet

Secretary Molly Lass

Program Co-Chairs: Gerry Luepke and Casey Mikel

Membership Co-Chairs: Marge Ryerson and Konnie Zimmerman

Nominations Lisa Krause

Blog Chair Royalee Rhoads

Newsletter Editor Sierra Kaptain

Conference Lead Colleen Zenk

CE Application Processor Marie Winker

Administrative Assistant Tanya Hamilton

2019-20 Award Winners 

Emerging Leader Award: Royalee Rhoads

Spirit Award: Julie Miller-Jones

Volunteer of the Year:  Gerry Luepke

Behind-the-Scenes Star: Pam Voelkel

FCS Professional of the Year:  Karen Smith

All award winners will be highlighted in-depth in a future blog post. Stay tuned!

Thank you for all the members and guests who joined us!  We look forward to great things in 2020-21!