Award Winners

Our organization’s awards recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions by our members. Awards are presented annually at the May member meeting.

FCS Professional of the Year 

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

The 2019-2020 FCS Professional of the Year is Karen Smith!

It is our honor to announce Karen Smith, a highly respected FACS professional who has accomplished much in the business world, education arena and Monticello community, as our 2020 Professional of the Year!

Karen is a Healthy OilSeeds, LLC Sales Associate. In addition to selling products, Karen is a company spokesperson, ambassador and educator. Because of her agricultural background and knowledge of North Dakota agriculture products she is often invited to travel with the North Dakota Trade Office. Karen has met and interacted with dignitaries from Spain, Italy, Peru and Mexico.

Karen is knowledgeable on how flaxseed and hempseed are used commercially in animal feed, human food products, paint components and cosmetic ingredients. She works with both US & international companies, educating them on flaxseed and hempseed characteristics and the value of using them in products. Karen credits her FACS background, growing up in rural ND, being a 4-Her, college days at Concordia & the U of MN, and being an active FCSPs member as stepping-stones to her current Healthy OilSeeds career.

Prior to working for Healthy OilSeeds, Karen was a Monticello Middle School FACS teacher. Her programs received numerous recognitions. Through the ”Patchwork of Kindness” project her students made quilts, raffled them off, 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 2 being handicap accessible. She saw the value in the garden as they taught sustainability, health, nutrition, a healthy leisure time activity, and food preparation skills. Karen has co-authored and published a curriculum called “Farm to School Activities,” based on lessons related to school gardens. Some of her former students still come to the Smith home to cook/bake with Karen, acquiring additional kitchen skills, learning more about nutrition and the importance of food and kitchen safety.

Karen’s awards & honors through the years include:

  • MAFCS Outstanding Service Award and MAFCS Outstanding Professional Award
  • Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers
  • MAFCS Teacher of the Year and AAFCS Top Ten Teacher of the Year
  • Home Baking Outstanding Home Economics Teacher of the US Award
  • Leadership in Educational Excellence Award
  • Monticello Public Schools Outstanding Service Award
  • Recipient of classroom grants totaling over $25,000

Community is important to Karen and she is very active in her church and in the Monticello community. Wednesday nights during the school year you’ll find Karen helping to prepare and serve 100 dinners at her church and afterwards teaching a Tweens class. She also enjoys visiting shut-ins and elderly in her community, often bringing them a gift of home-cooked food.

As FCSP’s president-elect, Karen is already making plans, writing goals and selecting/appointing board positions. Karen 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.

Karen is an active member of FCS Professionals, MAFCS and TCHC, holding leadership roles in both FCSP and MAFCS. She credits her mom, who was her 4-H leader and role model, for inspiring her to be involved and instilling in Karen the importance of giving back, sharing talents and time, garden produce and home-cooked food with neighbors and friends. Confucius said, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”  This quote exemplifies Karen and easily seen in her work, accomplishments and her community and family life. We are proud to have Karen as our FCSP president-elect and Professional of the Year!

Emerging Leader 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.

The 2010-20 recipient of the Emerging Leader Award is Royalee Rhoads!

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, ready to learn and grow professionally.

Royalee was featured in the April newsletter and when asked, “What advice would you give new people in your profession?” her answer was, “Keep learning for the rest of your life and every meeting you go to, make sure to sit by someone you don’t know and get to know them.”  She is the kind of person we would all want as a friend.

Royalee is currently the Director of Industry Relations at the Minnesota Beef Council. Royalee is living her passion since securing this job!  This excerpt from the MN Beef Council website clearly defines her skills, “If your talk is retail and merchandising, Royalee speaks your language. Royalee is responsible for communications with beef retail and foodservice partners, as well as providing leadership and coordination of our local producer promotion program. Royalee serves as a key representative at trade shows and retail events.”

Royalee has had several leadership positions with the Minnesota Cattle Women’s organization and has accepted a leadership role within our organization. She has agreed to be the blog and Facebook editor for the 2020-21 year. Royalee is definitely a Food and Consumer Science Professional emerging leader! We look forward to all she has to offer FCS Professionals and the leadership she will provide our organization for years to come!

Behind the Scenes Star Award

This award recognizes a member who works diligently to execute programming, results, and/or innovation within the organization but aren’t in any formal position on the board.

The 2019-20 recipient of the Behind the Scenes award is Pam Voelkel!

Pam Voelkel was a member for just a short time when she approached the MN Pork Producers and the MN Pork Board for a $500 donation to be used for FCS Professionals programming. The donation provided financial support for our January 2020 FCSP meeting and aided in keeping registration costs affordable for the 40 in attendance, including many guests and students. Attendees enjoyed a pork loin dinner and went home with a MN Pork potholder.

Pam serves as the Director of Events and Promotions at the Minnesota Pork Association. Her food-related career started as a bookkeeper for the association. With her background in marketing, she has evolved to become a promotional advocate in the pork industry. In our newsletter’s new member spotlight, Pam encouraged us to be open to continuous learning, especially in our ever-changing world.  Her words, “Be a sponge and soak it in.”

Jill Resler, COO of the Minnesota Pork Board shared, “Pam is passionate about helping people appreciate the value and versatility of pork; from cooking classes to marathons, her love of people, pig farmers, and pork shines bright in each conversation she has. Pam is a valuable member of the Minnesota pork team and I am proud of her hard work, leadership, and service in support of Minnesota pig farmers.”

David Preisler, CEO, Minnesota Pork Board added, “Pam has been a real asset to the Minnesota Pork Board. She cares deeply about doing the right thing and is always there to step up and do what needs to be done for the team. She truly enjoys people and she brings out the best in them because of her dedication and demonstrated caring. Pam believes in education and both learning and teaching about the “why and how” of a topic. Although she may not be in the headlines, without her work none of us would be able to move forward. When I think of the work that Pam does, the word “selfless” comes to mind. She is the first to step up and do it with a smile and “let’s go” attitude. Her adaptability has made her a valued member of our team. I am fortunate to work with her and she is very deserving of the “Behind the Scenes Award”.

We are grateful for Pam’s donation resulting in a memorable evening of learning, camaraderie and excellent eats.  As shared by both her co-workers and fellow FCSP members, Pam is an amazing example of someone who is willing to work behind the scenes to support industry and professional education. We are grateful for her desire to learn along side us and to help our organization thrive.

Spirit Award

This award recognizes a member that has shown championing behavior for our organization.

The 2019-20 recipient of the FCS Professional’s Spirit Award is Julie Miller Jones!

It is with great pleasure that we announce Julie Miller Jones, PhD, CNS, CFS, Fellow of AACCI, ICC, IFT Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emerita, Foods and Nutrition; St. Catherine University, as our FCSP Spirit Award winner for 2020.

Dr. Jones is a frequent speaker for many professional conferences and consumer organizations, locally, nationally and internationally. She has twice been named St. Catherine’s outstanding professor, and has received many awards, including the Myser Award, granted by St. Catherine’s alumnae to a professor “who made a difference in people’s lives.” Julie has presented frequently at MN FACS meetings and events. Recently she was the keynote for our 3rd Beyond the Basics Conference. Julie’s presentations are informative, easy to understand and up-to-date with the latest knowledge in the field. She is a person you want to sit next to at meetings, as she is so interesting and fun to visit with! We are very grateful for her willingness to share and her involvement with FCS Professionals!

Just weeks ago, knowing that several of us would be fielding questions about COVID-19 and food handling, Julie shared pertinent information with our members via email. Julie also has great ideas for programming for our organization including Zoom webinars for the months when we are not able to meet in person.

Her hobbies include skiing, reading, traveling, hiking, music of many genres, cooking and gourmet foods and wines. She is passionately interested in food and is a James Beard Society Judge of restaurants and cookbooks. She is a member of Roseville Lutheran Church and volunteers with organizations advocating for the handicapped.

As only Julie would say, “Stay safe, stay amused and stay well.”  We all admire Julie’s championing behavior and support of FCSP.

Volunteer of the Year Award

This award recognizes a member who represents the community-involvement-spirit of FCS Professionals through community outreach/enrichment they perform.

The 2019-20 recipient of the Volunteer Award is Gerry Luepke!

Gerry is so deserving of this award! She is the current president of TCHC, an active member of MAFCS, and what would we do without Gerry as a vital part of programming for FCS Professionals? No one expresses as much enthusiasm, energy, and passion as Gerry does! Her mind is always thinking about ways we can better our professional organizations, our communities and each other.

Gerry could be an event planner for any major organization!  This is her area of expertise and does she WOW us with her talent!  Gerry volunteers her time, talent and resources to help FCS Professionals, MAFCS, TCHC and Hudson Home and Garden Club plan amazing events and excursions. Gerry puts in countless hours to help plan and implement interesting and informative meetings. She searches all over the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota, looking for speakers and venues to hold meetings, while keeping the cost as low as possible for quality food and atmosphere for members to enjoy.  She is knowledgeable about current issues and trends in the marketplace and helps to bring those topics to the membership of the organizations.

Gerry has been an active member of the Hudson Home & Garden Club for the last ten years. Many probably join this group just because they know Gerry plans over-the-top programs and excursions!  Gerry also mentors individuals in her community, including a single mom.

Gerry is willing to help wherever needed, and follows through with everything she offers to help with. Without a doubt, it would be impossible for FCS Professionals to be such an outstanding organization that provides such wonderful programs and networking opportunities without her. We are all very lucky to have her as our Program Co-chair this year. It is with great gratitude and appreciation that we are pleased to announce Gerry Luepke for the 2020 Volunteer of the Year Award!