Three receive Distinguished Service Awards at ANR Week Luncheon

This week is Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Week. On Tuesday, several people were honored with awards at the ANR Week Luncheon at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

Each year the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources presents Distinguished Service Awards to those individuals or partners who have made outstanding contributions to Michigan’s agriculture and natural resources industries and who possess high standards of integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of the CANR. These individuals demonstrate a commitment to Michigan State University and the CANR by continuing outstanding volunteerism and leadership on behalf of or in conjunction with the university on a local, state, national or international level. I’d like to call attention to the three people who received Distinguished Service Awards: Don Coe, Todd Forbush and Rodney Stokes.

Don Coe is the managing partner of Black Star Farms, an inn, winery and distillery, equestrian center and agricultural destination in northern Michigan just north of Traverse City at Suttons Bay. As a member of our State Extension and AgBioResearch Council, he provided valuable input as well as leadership that came from his passion for agriculture and agri-tourism as well as his extensive experience in private industry. As a delegate to the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching, he was an outstanding spokesperson for the value of MSU programs for his personal business and the industry as a whole.

Todd Forbush used the knowledge and experience he gained through his education in MSU CANR and turned it into a thriving business, Techmark, Inc. As an undergraduate student, he worked in potato research under Dr. Burt Cargill and later Dr. Roger Brook. His work there led him to be a leader in the potato storage and ventilation industry. He designed the Burt Cargill Potato Demonstration Storage Facility, funded by the Michigan Potato Industry Commission and located at the MSU Montcalm Research Center. Techmark licensed and promoted the Impact Recording Device (IRD) developed at MSU. Mr. Forbush has served on numerous college alumni boards and college advisory boards.

Rodney Stokes has held a variety of positions in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) among them director of state parks, chief of staff and director. He currently serves as special advisor for city placemaking for the Office of Gov. Rick Snyder. Throughout his career, he’s worked tirelessly to ensure that every Michiganian has access to outdoor recreation. He’s been a great partner for MSU Extension and for the CANR, having served on the State Extension and AgBioResearch Advisory Committee. He has played a key role in facilitating academic, research and Extension programs at MSU.

It has been an honor for me to know and work with each of these individuals. All three have been outstanding partners for MSU and MSU Extension. Congratulations to all three Distinguished Service Award winners.

To read more details about each award winner, visit the ANR Week website at

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