They're honored at banquets.

Garrett and Jennifer Borowicz, Crookston, received special recognition for their commitment to leadership and their community during the Emerging Leadership Program recognition banquet on March 23 at the University of Minnesota Crookston.  They, along with individuals from 12 other counties in northwestern and west central Minnesota were recognized.

    The recognition banquet was the finale of the leadership program for the Class of 2013 who attended four training sessions focused on several of the University of Minnesota Extension’s educational program components to strengthen civic leadership in the region.  Many of the participants noted that highlights of the program were learning more about their individual strengths, getting to know leaders from other counties, and their trip to the State Capitol in St. Paul where they visited with their local legislators, attended committee meetings, and heard speakers to help them better understand how the legislative process works.

    The banquet carried on the tradition, started by the Red River Valley Winter Shows in 1961, of recognizing rural leaders for contributions to their communities, and provided a chance for alumni of the program from throughout the region to gather.

    The banquet was emceed by Agassiz Ambassadors Matt and Carla Blashack (Bertha, MN) and featured leadership stories by class participants Elizabeth Rockstad (Hendrum, MN), Travis Schauer (Lake Park, MN), John Boon (Hancock, MN), and Kim Anderson (Clearbrook, MN).  The banquet was also where the new Agassiz Ambassadors for 2013 were announced.  Recognized this year were Garrett and Andrea Novak (St. Hilaire, MN) who were selected for this honor from among other current participants in the program based on nominations from program participants and interviews with program alumni.  Andrea and Garrett will put their leadership skills to work in public relations, recognition, and community leadership, and will work with program coordinators to develop and deliver the educational program in 2014.

    The Emerging Leadership Program, a program of the University of Minnesota Extension and the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, exists to create and sustain a network of community leaders in the northwest and west central regions of Minnesota focusing on agricultural and natural resource issues.

    The Emerging Leadership Program is coordinated by Extension Educators, in partnership with nearly 1,000 alumni throughout the region.  Soon those alumni will be coming together to select new participants for the program.  If you know of someone in your county whom you would like to nominate or if you are interested in participating, please contact Garrett and Jennifer (Polk West, County) or the University of Minnesota Extension (888-241-4546) and we’ll see that names are added to the list of possible candidates.


Garrett and Andrea Novak, St. Hilaire, were recently named Agassiz Ambassadors for the Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program at their Awards Banquet held at UMC, March 23. 

    They will carry the title of Agassiz Ambassadors #53 for the coming year and put to work their leadership skills in public relations, recognition, and community leadership.  They will also work with program coordinators to develop and deliver the educational program.

     Garrett and Andrea were selected for this honor from among participants from thirteen counties who took part in the most recent program.  The selection was based on nominations from other program participants and interviews with program alumni. Andrea and Garrett were noted as good role models for this program.

    Interviewers noted that the couple was highly recommended by their peers and that they have a positive ‘can do’ attitude.  Former Agassiz Ambassador Christina Lien added “I am confident their contagious enthusiasm for the program will ignite and inspire the ELP class of 2014!”

     What do Andrea and Garrett have to say about being selected for this role?  They shared their thoughts saying, “We look forward to the role of the Agassiz Ambassador which will give us the opportunity to lead and teach the next class about using their strengths for leading.” The Emerging Leadership program will benefit from Garrett and Andrea’s continued involvement with the program over the coming months.

     Garrett and Andrea farm 2300 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat.  They also assist parents with their 3700 acre operation.  Between both operations they employ one full-time employee and several seasonal workers.  Andrea is a Registered Nurse at Sanford Health Surgery Center in Thief River Falls, saving as a Circulator in the operating room.  Andrea is also an instructor, teaching the nurses’ aide program at Northland Community and Technical College.  They have four daughters and are involved in a wide variety of groups and organizations in their community.

     The couple looks forward to continuing their involvement with the Emerging Leadership Program in the coming year.  This program is a partnership program of the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality and the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.  It is financially supported by alumni of the program and by the many community businesses throughout the region.  Major sponsors include the Red River Development Association and West Central Initiative.

     This program carries on the tradition, started by the RRV Winter Shows in 1961, of recognizing rural leaders for contributions to their communities.  The recognition, at a regional level once known as Valley King Agassiz, was replaced with the title of Agassiz Ambassadors in 1994. Agassiz Ambassadors for the program in recent years have been Matt and Carla Blashack (East Otter Tail County 2012), David and Christina Lien (Norman County 2011), Eric and Shana Klindt (Wilkin County 2010), David and Janet Malone (East Otter Tail County 2009), Chris and ADawn Melby (Pennington County 2008), Steve and Darla Marty (West Otter Tail County, 2007), Jess and Heidi Determan (Red Lake County, 2006), Corey and Stacie Petterson (Clearwater County, 2005), Eric and Patty Mickelson (Red Lake County, 2004), Ron and Brenda Knable (Clearwater County, 2003), Dan and Amy Beske (West Otter Tail County, 2002), Dave and TerriBeth Dufault (West Polk County, 2001), Jeff and Ingrid Remick (West Polk County, 2000).


Kevin and Patti Lien from Fisher are West Polk County’s 2013 Valley Farmer and Homemaker. The Lien family includes Andrea, Amanda and Austin.

     Kevin and Patti are members of Our Saviors Lutheran Church where Kevin has served on the church board for the last 15 years and on the Fisher School Board for the past 16 years.  He also serves on the Mid Valley Grain Board.

     Patti worked for Bremer Bank for 25 years and as City Clerk for Fisher for 8 years.  In 2004, Patti purchased Rejuv Salon and Spa in Crookston and operates that business today.

     Kevin has been farming with the family since 1975.  They farm approximately 6,000 acres that include wheat, soybeans, sugarbeets and corn.