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Agronomy Seed Farm Director Retires

After 32 years as director of the NDSU Agronomy Seed Farm, Tom Teigen retired on April 1. He said he “enjoyed being a part of new plant breeding and development” efforts and “worked with a good bunch from NDSU and with a good progressive bunch of producers” during his tenure.
Agronomy Seed Farm Director Retires

Tom Teigen demonstrates bagging seed to a group of NDSU students (photo by Joyana Baumann)

The Cass County Reporter featured Tom Teigen in the March 25, 2015 issue. The entire article is reprinted here with permission of the author, Angela Kolden, and the Cass County Reporter.

On April 1 Tom Teigen, director at the NDSU Agronomy Seed Farm west of Casselton, will retire after exactly 32 years. He began his career there on April 1, 1983.

Not only has he worked at the seed farm, he has called it home, literally. Housing was included as a part of his benefit package, which means he and his family lived on site.

Tom and his wife Kitty raised three children on the farm; a daughter, Melissa and two sons, Lee and Andy. His children and grandchildren play a big role in how he intends to spend his retirement days.

“Family is very important to my wife and I,” he explained. “We are looking forward to spending time with our grandkids and children.”

In addition, Tom said he hopes to take an extended summer vacation. In his line of work, time off in the summer is hard to come by.

Although he was occasionally able to steal a weekend away at his lake home on Cottonwood Lake in Minnesota, he anticipates traveling the United States, visiting the country’s National Parks. However, some of his travel plans may have to wait a little while longer as Kitty, who works for the United States Department of Justice in Fargo, is not planning to retire until later this fall.

Perhaps that will allow Tom time to pursue a passion that has been a part of him since growing up on a certified seed farm near Rugby: farming.

“Farming is in my blood,” Tom said, explaining he still has an interest in the home farm in Rugby.

That farm is responsible for how he first became interested in a career in agronomy. While growing up in the country he was active in FFA. Both experiences fueled an interest in agronomy and his ultimate career choice.

After graduating from high school, he attended NDSU where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1970. He continued his education at NDSU and received a Masters in Agronomy in 1974.

He put his education to good use, working as a farmer in the Hunter area for a number of years, prior to accepting the position as supervisor at the NDSU Agronomy Seed Farm.

He explained that his title later changed to director, but his duties remained the same.

Those duties include everything involved with the direct day to day activities of the farm, including things like planning, budgeting and directing the operation’s daily activities.

Referring to those activities, Tom is clear when explaining that the seed farm is entirely self funded. It is a government agency, but contrary to popular belief, it receives no government funding.

The facility, which is one of five NDSU statewide seed farms, was established in 1950 after $110,000 was collected through donations from farmers. With the $110,000 three-fourths of a section of land was purchased and enough equipment to farm it. After the first crop, which was a bountiful harvest, the money earned purchased the remaining quarter of the section. Since that time, the facility has been completely self-supporting.

“The seed income supports us entirely. There is no tax funding,” he explained.

During his 32 years, the most rewarding aspect of his career has been being witness to the first step in the life of new crop varieties.

“I’ve enjoyed being a part of new plant breeding and development,” he said.

Through the years, the facility has grown slow but steady, with the most marked change being converting to bulk seed.

“We used to bag everything,” Tom said.

Now the farm boasts rows of 5,000 bushel bins and a state of the art loading scale.

“We are still growing,” he said. “But we are growing at a slower pace because we have everything we need.”

In looking back on his career, Tom said it has been rewarding.

“I’ve worked with a good bunch from NDSU and with a good progressive bunch of producers. I’ll miss the people. It has been exciting and interesting.”

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