AIN: Was there a specific reason you wished to join the AURI Board of Directors?
FT: Agriculture is changing at an accelerated pace with consumers driving much of it. At the same time, collaborative ecosystems and supply chains are crucial to what is coming in agriculture. I wanted to join the AURI board of directors because I believe AURI’s mission to foster value-added economic development provides a platform to continue supporting these changes in the region and can make Minnesota a leader in value added agriculture.
AIN: How did you first learn of AURI?
FT: Having worked in value-added agriculture in the Midwest for 15 years, I learned about AURI when I first moved to Minnesota to work in the space. What we have here, with AURI, is unique and the organization has a tremendous opportunity to influence beyond the state’s borders in a way that
will be synergistic and help accomplish
our mission in Minnesota.
FT: I have led R&D projects, established supply chains, led business development, manufacturing, sales, teams and companies that were 100 percent focused on value added solutions in agriculture. I have had the privilege to collaborate not only on the agricultural productivity side but also on food, supplements, bio-materials and biofuels.
AIN: What do you want to achieve as a new board member?
FT: Over the next three years I would like to see more recognition for the upper Midwest having a best-in-class ecosystem for value-added agriculture and can be a strong alternative to the traditional supply chains and east coast/west coast innovation hubs.
AIN: Have you worked with AURI in the past?
FT: No, but I attended some AURI sponsored events and was very impressed with the cross section of participants and thought leaders across the whole food and ag value chain.
FT: At the board we are all about furthering AURI’s mission of creating economic development. Personally, as an entrepreneur, I want to help the organization increase its impact beyond its current programs and approach. There are a lot of exciting things happening in agriculture and food, and AURI is poised to lead collaboratively.
AIN: What do you most look forward to in this new position?
FT: I look forward to supporting AURI’s Executive Director, Shannon Schlecht, and the rest of the staff in accomplishing some lofty goals that will certainly make a difference in our region.