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Erick Smith ’67

Erick died on September 3, 2014. He came to K from Addison, Mich., majored in mathematics, and studied abroad in Erlangen, Germany. He later earned a Master’s degree in math from Michigan State University. He served as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. His life pursuits alternated between his academic interests and farming. He purchased a farm in Brooktondale, N.Y., where he and his family grew strawberries for 17 years. He returned to academia at Cornell University, earning a Master’s degree in agricultural economics and a Ph.D. in mathematics education. He then moved to Chicago and taught math education at the University of Illinois-Chicago. But he missed the rural life and returned to his farm in Brooktondale and taught briefly at Cornell and Ithaca College. He began farming full time with Cayuga Pure Organics, a farm he developed and grew that was committed to locally produced, sustainable, organic food.

Dale Norton ’73

Dale was elected president of the National Pork Board in June of 2014. NPB is the trade association for U.S. pork producers. Dale has served on the 15-member board for five years. He and his brother Ken (class of 1971) raise hogs, among other agricultural operations, at Kendale Farm in Bronson, Michigan. Dale’s work with NPB was featured in a December article published in the Bronson Journal. In it he extols the value of a liberal arts education in farming and farm policy issues. The article also mentions the hog roast he and his brother have hosted for their K classmates and friends for nearly four decades.

Ron Klein ’74

Ron and his wife Suzanne live at and manage the first farm in Michigan to be designated Certified Wildlife Friendly by the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network. The 46-acre Windshadow Farm (Bangor, Michigan) ensures the health of its 150-head dairy goat herd in concert with surrounding wetlands and habitat for species that include amphibians, reptiles, ground-nesting birds and raptors. Ron and Suzanne time the grazing of the pasture-fed goats to ensure nutrient-dense forage. The milk produced allows for production of high-quality cheeses, distributed in western Michigan and in Chicago under the Evergreen Lane Artisan Cheese label. The natural areas surrounding Windshadow Farm allow for migration of coyotes and fishers through a marsh extending from the Black River. Two Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs are with the dairy herd at all times, and vulnerable animals are gathered in a secured dry lot at night. The couple enjoy identifying the multiple species of turtles, frogs, toads and snakes found on the property and regularly see egrets, herons and sandhill cranes, along with a host of raptors. Instead of draining seasonally wet areas, the farm has developed a management-intensive grazing system around them. The farm maintains a grassed perimeter around pastures and times hay crop gathering and grazing to protect ground-nesting birds and capture rain water. Ron and Suzanne believe they are seeing an increase in native pollinators due to careful management. The return of pollinators, along with more amphibians and reptiles, are signs of a healthy ecosystem. The farm uses solar power for some of its operations, and it also is certified for its high-welfare animal care by the Animal Welfare Approved program. Ron and Suzanne have served on the board of directors of the Michigan Land Trustees, an organization that promotes local food, small farms and rural revitalization.

Dale Norton ’73

Dale was awarded the 2016 Michigan Pork Producer’s Distinguished Service Award. He and his brother, Ken ’71, are generation number four of the five generations that have worked and are working Kendale Farm in Bronson, Mich. The farm raises some 33,000 pigs a year and about 3,000 acres of crops and some cattle. Dale has been involved with pork industry leadership on both the state and national levels. Be sure to watch the video about Dale and the award.

Dale Norton ’73

DaleNortonDale was co-recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award, presented at the 97th Michigan Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in December. Dale is a partner (with his brother Ken ’71) at Kendale Farms in Bronson, Michigan. He is a board member and past president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association and is chair of the Michigan Swine Health Committee. He was appointed by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm to the Michigan Ag Commission, and  served as a member from 2005-09. Dale has been involved in the pork industry at the state level for more than two decades. At K Dale majored in political science and studied abroad in Muenster, Germany.