NCR-SARE Establishes “NCR-SARE Hero Recognition,” Honors Bill Wilcke

October 12, 2012

               Bill Wilcke

Bill Wilcke, photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota

NCR-SARE is pleased to announce that William F. Wilcke is the first person to receive the “NCR-SARE Hero Recognition.”

Coordinated by the NCR-SARE Alumni Organization, this recognition recognizes the leadership, vision, contributions, and impact that these heroes have made in the field of sustainable agriculture in the North Central region. The first recipient, William (Bill) Wilcke, has brought great credit, visibility, and leadership to the NCR-SARE program in his long career of service to sustainable agriculture and its people and communities.

Wilcke was born and raised in Northwest Iowa on a small diversified crop and livestock farm where hard work and perseverance were valued. After graduating from Battle Creek High School, Wilcke attended Iowa State University at Ames, Iowa, where he received all three of his post high school degrees in Agricultural Engineering in 1976, 1980 and 1985. His focus was on grain drying and storage with a minor in energy engineering.

After receiving his PhD at Iowa State, he worked at Virginia Tech in Extension Crop Drying and Storage. After almost four years at Virginia Tech, Bill came to the University of Minnesota in an extension and research position in post harvest crop drying and storage. He researched the storability of grain and advised Minnesota farmers about their grain drying and storage systems.

Among a wide variety of activities to advance sustainable agriculture, Wilcke served as the Minnesota State SARE Coordinator from 1996-2004, and was also elected to the NCR-SARE Administrative Council.  He co-chaired the University of Minnesota’s Small Farm Task Force from 1997-1998, was a founding member of the Northwest Regional Development Partnerships Board, served on the Minnesota Organic Advisory Task Force, was a member of the SAN Steering Committee, and was a board member of Compatible Technology International. He served on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture from 1994-1999, and provided interim leadership as Acting Administrator from 2000-2002.  In 2002, he became the NCR-SARE Regional Coordinator and remained in that position until disability forced him to give up the position in 2010. He retired in fall 2011 and established a graduate fellowship to perpetuate his interest in sustainability and to guarantee the future professional work of the Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota.

“Dr. Wilcke’s efforts have greatly supported the dialogue and interaction among key non-profits, farmers, and the university in serving the pressing needs of people and communities moving towards sustainability,” said long-time sustainable agriculture leader and chair of the NCR-SARE Alumni Committee, Jerry DeWitt. “His tenure and leadership supported the dramatic growth of SARE programming in research, education, and training region-wide. NCR-SARE modeled innovative programming in on-farm research grants, energy, youth research programs, key youth educator training, critically listening to diverse audiences, and serving minority and Native American interests in sustainability. These efforts, and more, have helped strengthen the NCR-SARE program and positioned it as an invaluable resource to the people and communities in the North Central region.”

The NCR-SARE Hero Recognition recognizes individuals who 1) have provided service to NCR-SARE, sustainability, and/or national SARE, 2) have shown leadership in sustainable agriculture locally and regionally, and 3) have made lasting impacts to sustainability in the North Central region.  Read more about Bill Wilcke and the NCR-SARE Hero Recognition.

NCR-SARE is one of four regional offices that run the SARE program, a nationwide grants and education program to advance sustainable innovation to American agriculture. Since 1988, NCR-SARE has helped advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program. The program, part of USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.