STAPLES - Robert Schafer, 54, of Staples, is the new Central Lakes Ag Center director. He replaces retired Norm Krause.
Schafer owns a farm two miles west of Staples and is involved with his parents' farm near Clarissa.
"My first goal is to not break what Norm has so successfully built," Schafer said in a news release. Schafer said he values the experience of employees under his supervision - Shirley Judd, Ron Nelson and Shelly Johnson.
"I have a vested interest in and a love for this area," he said. "I look forward to building a good working relationship with colleagues and using our combined resources to keep the Ag Center strong and contributing to the economy of the Staples area."
Schafer has worked in education and industry for almost 30 years, including Pine River. From 1979-82 he worked for the Heartland Co-op Center and started an agriculture program for the Pine River School District. One of the courses he taught was the production of ethanol fuel.
More recently he has been a volunteer with Wadena Ag Alternatives, a group exploring the potential for cellulosic ethanol using crop residue, switch grass and woody materials.
He has been employed in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. His work has involved biofuels, energy, livestock, feed and grain production, and dairy. While working as a dairy farm specialist for Kraft Foods in Melrose, Schafer and his family operated a dairy farm.
He also spent five years as a livestock production specialist for Land O'Lakes in Alexandria.
"I look forward to using my agronomy and plant science training on crop production," he said. "I love the idea of the Ag Center being a self-sustaining enterprise within Central Lakes College, and if run right, it will support work in renewable energy, sustainable farming and environmental improvement."
Schafer is a 1979 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, with a bachelor's degree in agricultural education. He studied ethanol production in 2002 at Minnesota West Technical College.
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