The Southern Agricultural Center of Excellence will align students with the resources of academic institutions and industry to develop and sustain the workforce needs of agriculture in Southern Minnesota.
The Southern Agricultural Center of Excellence will serve as a dominate force in the promotion of education in agriculture and agricultural careers, aligning colleges and curriculums across the region.
Brad Schloesser is the Director of the Southern Agricultural Center of Excellence. The Center is a collaborative effort and a new commitment to agricultural excellence in Minnesota. Prior to this role, he served as a faculty member on the South Central College, (SCC) Agribusiness Team, teaching post-secondary agribusiness courses and advising students in the Post Secondary Agriculture Student (PAS) Organization. Before teaching at the post-secondary level he taught high school agri-science in two communities in southern Minnesota, concurrently serving as FFA advisor to student members.
Recently, Brad provided national leadership as Program Manager for the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE). The curriculum, created as a special project of The National Council for Agricultural Education, is continually improving. He serves as State Leader for CASE on the National CASE Advisory Committee and has hosted CASE Institutes at SCC for teachers attracted from across the nation. Brad has served as the President of the National Council for Agricultural Education which provides leadership for excellence in agricultural education at the middle and high school levels as well as encompassing post secondary and adult agricultural education in agriculture, food, and natural resources. Brad continues to be a lifelong learner, promoting agriculture and supporting the industry.
Brad and wife LuAnn have two adult daughters that are both productively employed in the agriculture industry. Seven grandchildren bring much joy to their family. Growing grapes, tending a sheep flock and managing health and a happy home life are some of the many blessings Brad keeps as life priorities. He knows where each day’s gifts originate and concentrates time on faith building. The family resides in Saint Peter, MN.
Tracy grew up in Eastern Wisconsin where she was involved in 4-H and many school activities. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, she went to Culinary School in San Francisco to pursue her passion for food. She then moved to Napa, California where she resided for 16 years. While in Napa she managed winery tasting rooms eventually becoming the Director of Retail Operations at Robert Mondavi Winery. There she was able to pursue her love of food, wine, and education through AgriTourism. Tracy has a strong background in viticulture and also co-managed their own winery with her husband. Tracy moved to the Mankato area a few years ago to be closer to her family.
Tracy's husband Mike is the winemaker at Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery. They have a daughter, Tallulah, who is an avid equestrian. The family enjoys time together cooking. camping, and playing with their labrador retrievers.
Natalie grew up in Morris, MN where she was actively involved in 4-H and FFA, as well as a helpful hand on her family’s small farm. Agriculture runs deep in Natalie’s family, as her and her brother, Justin, are the 6th generation to be tied to agricultural pursuits. After graduating from high school, Natalie attended the University of Minnesota where she studied Animal Science. While on campus, Natalie was active in agricultural and professional organizations. Upon graduation from the U of M in 2015, Natalie moved to Red Wing, MN to serve as the Goodhue County 4-H Program Coordinator. Although she enjoyed her time spent with the 4-H families and volunteers, marriage required a move to the Mankato area in September of 2016. Soon after settling into Mankato, she accepted a job with Genesis Cooperative in Le Sueur as the Communication Specialist. Natalie enjoyed building relationships with farmers and colleagues while at Genesis, but felt the desire to return to agriculture education and promotion. She looks forward to sharing the story of agriculture and promoting agribusiness careers while serving our center.
Natalie’s husband, Dusty is a Swine Lending Specialist for Compeer Financial in Mankato. The couple resides in Mankato, but frequently helps out on the family’s row crop and hog farm in Nicollet. Additionally, they enjoy raising show pigs, spending time with friends and family, traveling, and going to the lake for a little relaxation and fishing. You could say they live by the 4 F’s: Faith, Family, Friends, and Farming.
Shelly Kitzberger is the administrative assistant for the Southern Minnesota Center of Agriculture. She graduated from South Central College with an AAS Degree in Office Technology. Shelly grew up on a farm in the rural New Ulm area, where her family continues to raise hogs and cattle. She was active in both 4-H and FFA growing up. Shelly enjoys spending time with her husband, family and friends. She also enjoys playing volleyball.