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Heidi Clausen ’93, regional editor for The Country Today, spent the afternoon of April 19, the Centennial kick-off, on campus visiting with students, faculty and staff. She subsequently wrote a wonderful story about CAFES that appeared in the May 2 edition. We are reposting a letter to the editor that appeared in the May 30 edition, in response to that article…because it talks about a redheaded, freckled-face kid that many UWRF alumni know…

The rest of the UW-RF story

To the editor:

I’m writing to tell “the rest of the story” to one of your articles that appeared in your May 2 edition.

It will be 50 years this August that I married a Wisconsin farmer, who had gotten his animal science degree from UW-Madison a year or two before. He had gotten it through the G.I. Bill, after having served in the Korean War.

I might add that his Army job was to build the airstrip in Teague, South Korea. He was put on that assignment because he grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and could handle large equipment.

A year or two after finishing his degree he became the manager of a large horned Hereford/registered Quarter horse operation just outside of one of Wisconsin’s larger cities and it was at that time that he took a bride from the suburbs of Chicago.

Many Friday evenings or on Sunday the couple would go into town to the large hotel that always served a very large buffet. It was there that a 16-year-old, redheaded, freckled-face, high school busboy would hound the farmer with questions about farming.  He was a “town” kid and knew nothing about farming, but indeed had a driving interest. All through the meal he would do his busboy job only to come back to the table time and time again to pry more and more farming information out of the farmer.

After many weeks – or was it months? – the farmer’s bride made a suggestion.

“Why don’t you hire that kid on the farm? He seems to have a real interest in farming and in what you are doing,” she said, hoping that if he was hired on the farm, they could eat their dinner in peace when they came to town.

That is just what the farmer did.  He hired the red-haired, freckled-face high school kid from town part time to begin with and full time in the summers.

When “the kid” graduated from high school, the farmer and others around him encouraged him to go on to college and try for a degree in agriculture, some even contributing small amounts in finances.

With all of us watching, “the kid” went on and on and on until he received his professorship in the animal science field.

So when I saw a quote in your paper by the now-retired, redheaded, freckled-face kid from town I once knew, I had to write.

He said, and I quote, “UW-RF was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

I said to myself, “Really?”

Where was the farm located? Waukesha

Where was the busboy employed? The Avalon Hotel

Who was the farmer?  Don Prill, father of Alicia Prill-Adams, assistant farm director at UW-Platteville.

Who was the busboy?  None other than UW-River Falls retired animal science professor Tom Goerke.

Who am I?  The farmer’s bride, and I just felt the need to tell “the rest of the story.”  Also, because we can now eat in peace.

Three people have benefited because one Wisconsin grown-up dairy farmer served his country, got his education, expanded to cow/calf production and took an interest in them. Congratulations to the three who have learned so much from that 80-year-old farmer.

And that is the “rest of the story” in response to “A century after its founding as an ag teachers college, UW-River Falls’ CAFES remains…Student-centered.”

Nancy Dinelli-Prill

Illinois AgriNews columnist