Episode 2: Tim Johnson + Kathy Schwantes
On this episode, we sat down with Kathy Schwantes and Tim Johnson from the Mid Central Research + Outreach Center (aka MCROC) on campus. Many people are often surprised to learn that the University of Minnesota has a presence on MWTC, so we brought in Kathy and Tim to help tell - and share - the story.
Kathy is currently the West Central Regional Director for the U of M Extension AND the Director of Operations at MCROC. She’s had quite the career in the Willmar area, from starting out at Heritage Bank, to becoming a teacher + dean at Ridgewater College, then transitioning into economic development working for the EDC, all the way to her current gig with the U of M / MCROC. These days she spends her time traveling across 10 counties in central MN connecting people to the resources that Extension has to offer.
Tim is currently a professor at the U of M’s vet school + the Director of R&D for MCROC. After splitting time between St. Paul and Willmar for a few years, him and his family officially moved “out west” in 2015. Tim has a huge passion for teaching and connecting younger generations with the poultry industry through the research side of things. As he says, much of what his does involves finding ways to “make science sexy.”
After many conversations and a lot of hard work behind the scenes, the MCROC lab opened on campus in 2012. Due to the nature of the work, many things that MCROC lab actually does flies under the radar. The large majority of their research and testing revolves around the turkey industry. In fact, many of the projects are spurred from conversations with local ag workers and the challenges they face every day. Which is an advantage of having their rural location - specially of MWTC alongside other turkey/ag related businesses.
MCROC is also able to partner with our local college and other M-state schools to provide more opportunities for students to learn about research and all of its applications in the ag industry. In collaboration with Ridgewater College and others, Tim is currently working on launching the U of M’s first 100% online poultry training program. It’ll be starting this Fall, so stay tuned for more info on that!
Learn more about the U of M Extension + MCROC: https://extension.umn.edu/
Learn more about MinnWest Campus: http://www.mnwesttechnology.com/