Andrews named 2020 Wisconsin Distinguished Agriculturalist 

Kris AndrewsJune 22, 2020 - Kristine Andrews, associate vice president for federal relations for the University of Wisconsin System, has been named the 2020 Wisconsin Distinguished Agriculturalist by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at UW-River Falls.

Andrews has a long association with UW-River Falls and CAFES and her greatest impact on UWRF and the greater agricultural community came through her role in the establishment and continued funding of the USDA-NIFA program for providing capacity building funds to non-land-grant institutions such as UWRF that have programming in agriculture and related areas. Through her work in federal relations for the UW System, and with her numerous contacts in Washington, D.C., Andrews was instrumental in the authorization and appropriation of federal funding for non-land-grant institutions.

Andrews worked closely with the professional association of the non-land-grant institutions – Non-land-grant Agricultural and Renewable Resources Universities (NARRU) - in crafting the language of the 2008 Farm Bill provision as well as facilitating contacts in both the Senate and House of Representatives and their agriculture committees to ensure inclusion in the bill. Authorization language only provides for the opportunity of funding. Realization must come through the appropriations process. For several years Andrews worked with the NARRU Board and others to get funding included in the federal budget.

Since 2012, there has been approximately $5 million annually in the USDA-NIFA NLGCA Capacity Building Grants Program available to fund competitive proposals in teaching, research, outreach and integrated programs across these areas.

Prior to this effort, the non-land-grant institutions were the only group of institutions with programming in agriculture and related areas that did not have designated funding. The 2008 Farm Bill changed that. Together, the 70 NARRU institutions enroll approximately one-third of the total students in agriculture, natural resource and related programs. In Wisconsin, over 50% of the students in traditional agriculture programs are at non-land grant campuses. In CAFES, to date, faculty and staff have received grant funding totaling nearly $3.5 million for individual and collaborative projects here at UWRF as well as with other institutions, agencies and private entities.

“The value of Kris’s work is difficult to measure beyond simply stating that without her commitment, there might not be an NLGCA Capacity Building Grants Program,” said Dale Gallenberg, CAFES Dean.

Andrews has also been an active supporter of undergraduate research at UWRF and across the UW System. Similarly, she has been a strong supporter of internships and the value of real-world experiences for students, as well as promotion of all high impact practices in teaching and learning. Development of the future leaders of communities and industries is important to Andrews and she has actively supported leadership and other professional development opportunities for students.

“UWRF’s reputation as a leader in URSCA and the opportunities for students through undergraduate research is due in part to Kris’s active promotion and recognition of what’s going on at our campus,” said Gallenberg. “Many of the things we believe as faculty and staff in CAFES that are important components of our students’ experiences are important to Kris as well.”

“I am humbled by this award and want to thank Dean Gallenberg and my UW-River Falls colleagues for this honor,” said Andrews. “Agriculture - Wisconsin’s most important industry – benefits significantly from the education and training that is provided to our next generation of agriculture leaders by UW-River Falls and the other comprehensive universities across the state and country.  They educate the students that return to their communities to work on the farms, cheese factories, agri-business or go on to graduate school to become our state’s veterinarians, food scientists or a UW-Extension agent. This is the epitome of the Wisconsin Idea!”

The Distinguished Agriculturalist Award would have been presented to Andrews at the CAFES Annual Scholarship and Awards Banquet this past spring, had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic. An on-campus reception honoring Andrews is anticipated sometime in the near future. At that time, she will receive a framed copy of the charcoal sketch of her portrait that will be added to the Agriculture Hall of Fame in the Agricultural Science building alongside the past honorees.

The Wisconsin Distinguished Agriculturalist Award was established in 1970 to recognize individuals who have provided leadership, service and other contributions to the broader agricultural community.  Andrews is the 51st awardee. To see previous honorees, visit

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