Agricultural Utilization Research Institute’s Board of Directors Elects Three New Members

The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) is pleased to announce three new members to its Board of Directors.

State Sen. Gene Dornink (R-Hayfield) and State Rep. Mike Sundin (DFL-Esko) fill the two seats slated for representatives from the senate and house of representatives standing committees with jurisdiction over agriculture finance. Erin Heitkamp fills one of the two seats slated for a representative from agribusiness. AURI’s Board of Directors is comprised of 11 members representing the state’s commodity groups, general farm organizations, agribusiness, at-large affiliates, and members of the Minnesota House and Senate agriculture finance committees.

Sen. Dornink was elected in 2020 to represent District 27 in the Minnesota Senate. He is Vice Chair of the Labor and Industry Policy Committee and serves on the Agriculture and Rural Development Finance & Policy Committee, the Capital Investment Committee and the Human Services Licensing Policy Committee. He is a small business owner in Hayfield, Minn.

Heitkamp is the Senior Vice President—Impact at Pipeline Foods in Minneapolis. Erin is a member of the organization’s leadership team and oversees the company’s impact work, marketing, branding, communication, seed and inputs and capital management. She previously led the development and execution of environmental sustainability policy and strategy for Delta and Northwest Airlines.

Rep. Sundin was elected in 2012 to represent District 11A in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He chairs the House Agriculture Finance & Policy Committee and serves on the Ways and Means, Industrial Education and Economic Development Finance & Policy, and Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance & Policy committees. Prior to his election, Sundin was a member of the Cloquet School Board in Cloquet, Minn.

“Our Board of Directors plays a critical role in shaping the strategic direction of AURI. The expertise and knowledge of our three new board members will be an asset to AURI as we work to further our programmatic impacts, deepen our reach and make new connections in the agricultural industry,” said Shannon Schlecht, AURI’s Executive Director. “We are grateful for the interest and enthusiasm that State Sen. Dornink, State Rep. Sundin and Ms. Heitkamp have for value-added agriculture and look forward to their contributions to furthering AURI’s programs and mission.”

“A high-quality board of directors is essential to the success of our organization. The support of legislators like Sen. Dornink and Rep. Sundin—and business leaders like Erin Heitkamp—helps AURI better serve its clients and have a greater impact on region’s agriculture industry,” said Ron Obermoller, the chair of AURI’s Board of Directors. “I am excited about the new opportunities to work with the board of directors in all of AURI’s core service areas to the benefit of our agricultural industry and overall economy.”