WROF Board of Directors

WROF, Inc. Board of Directors (left to right): James Caldwell, Curtis Hanson, Deb Boyke, Mary Elvekrog, Dorothy Farrell, Richard Renk, Carol Knox, and Daryll Lund

Experienced and Dedicated

The Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation, Inc. is governed by a highly regarded Board of Directors who are dedicated to sound fiscal responsibility as they carry on a legacy of fostering rural Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors dedicates one meeting annually to analyzing the educational climate in rural Wisconsin and then allocating awards to maximizing the benefit and impact in the rural enterprise. Recipient selections are made, in some cases, by the particular college or university admissions offices according to academics, leadership, service and financial need criteria outlined by the Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation.

In some instances, key individuals from throughout the state serve on grant review committees to assist the Board of Directors in determining the people, projects and programs most deserving of support.

Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Board of Directors

President of the Board

Dorothy K. Farrell
Senior Demand Manager, Sargento Foods

Dorothy is from a family farm, served as Alice in Dairyland, earned her B.S. in agricultural marketing at UW-Madison and her MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management. She has held a variety of positions in her two decades with Sargento Foods, including Director of New Business Development, Director of Innovation, Sr. Business Manager and now Sr. Demand Manager, which focuses on assessing future product markets.  She believes passionately in education as the key tool for adapting to change and retaining the vibrancy of rural Wisconsin.

First Vice-President

Jim Caldwell, board president

James K. Caldwell
President, First Citizens State Bank, Whitewater, Wisconsin

James grew up on a Wisconsin farm, and witnessed firsthand the need for educational opportunities and leadership development for rural Wisconsin young people. Jim believes these opportunities ensure the enhanced success and prosperity of Wisconsin’s rural and  agricultural communities. He is proud that so many WROF recipients say their scholarship was a “defining moment” for them.  WROF, Inc scholarships empower them to pursue their desired education and return to become strong leadership in our Wisconsin rural communities. James served as President for over 30 years and sees continuing his service as vice president of the board and investing in the organization’s endowment as a way for him to “give back” and preserve our wonderful rural Wisconsin way of life.

Second Vice-President

Richard RenkRichard R. Renk
President, RenSeeds

Richard is a 5th generation Badger who respects and appreciates Wisconsin rural heritage. The foundation and core of Renk Seed Company’s business is its seed corn sales to Wisconsin farmers and agri-businesses. Richard says he can think of nothing more rewarding or fruitful than investing in the education and organic growth of the rural youth of Wisconsin. He says, “They are our future and this is what WROF, Inc. is all about: helping build our rural Wisconsin enterprise.”  Through his own investments of time and significant dollars, Richard hopes to encourage others to see the impact supporting the WROF, Inc will have in rural Wisconsin.

Board Members

Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation Board Member

Deb Boyke
Communications and Training Manager, Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research

As the Communications Coordinator at the Center for Dairy Research, Deb manages industry relation activities, plans technical events, coordinates communication work projects and company trainings, plus she oversees all CDR communication outreach efforts. She comes to CDR with more than 30 years of industry experience in the dairy and agriculture industries with a degree in Dairy Science and an emphasis in Agricultural Journalism. She also currently serves as the Executive Director for the U.S. National Committee to the International Dairy Federation. Deb is proud to work with the knowledgeable staff at CDR to promote and assist the dairy industry. The mission of the WROF, Inc is closely aligned with her rural background and values and her goal is to increase the visibility of the organization so that more might participate both in investing in the organization and also receiving support.

Mary ElvekrogMary Elvekrog
Assistant Vice President-Dairy Specialist, Badgerland Financial

Mary grew up on her family dairy farm near Stoughton. She was active in 4-H, FFA and graduated from UW-Platteville with a degree in Agribusiness. Mary has been an ag lender with Badgerland Financial since 1981. She serves dairy farmers in Southern Wisconsin, supporting their credit and financial needs.  Mary has a strong passion for the success and viability of Wisconsin’s rural communities, and has been active on the Fair Board. She looks forward to serving on the WROF, Inc. Board of Directors and contributing to the success of helping students pursue a career serving rural Wisconsin.

Curtis HansonCurtis Hanson
President, Mid-State Power Equipment

Curtis grew up in a small town, and says education was what he needed to maximize his contribution back to this state. He feels strongly about helping young rural people with financial need continue their education, which is why he invests time and resources with the WROF, Inc. With its focus on assisting rural Wisconsin residents in attending Wisconsin schools, Hanson says, “We make something important happen, not only in the students’ lives, but in rural Wisconsin overall.” Leaders in 4-H and FFA encouraged him along the way. By working weekends and with his parents’ help, he paid his tuition at UW-Platteville. He saw a lot of his classmates struggling financially, however, and today’s costs are so much greater than they were then.

Carol Knox
Director, Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance and Fort HealthCare boards

Carol grew up on family dairy farm west of Fort Atkinson. She graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in journalism in 1973. She has spent much of her 32-year career communicating with people about agriculture. Carol retired in 2005 after 23 years as a principal in Morgan&Myers, a consulting firm that specializes in pasture-to-plate communications. As an appointee of Governors Lee Dreyfus and Tommy Thompson, Carol served on the board for the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection for 12 years, including 2 years as chair. She served on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (UW-Madison) Board of Visitors for 4 years. She currently serves on the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance and Fort HealthCare boards. Carol says it’s exciting to be part of WROF, a program she feels has done so much for so many, and has so much potential. As a WROF board member, Carol looks forward to developing and helping to execute new strategies to help further the growth of the organization.

Daryll Lund
Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA)

Daryll J. Lund is Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff for the Wisconsin Bankers Association. Daryll is responsible for oversight and management of WBA’s education and member relations departments, government relations efforts primarily at the federal level, serving as a spokesperson with the media and other outside groups, and playing a key role in fostering effective working relationships with the membership and other organizations both within and outside of the State. Prior to his current position with WBA, Daryll served as the President/CEO of the Community Bankers of Wisconsin and previously was the President/CEO of the Wisconsin Agribusiness Council. Daryll sees a strong connection between providing educational opportunities in the State and enhanced community engagement and success.

Robert E. Walton
Emeritus President, American Breeders Service and Simmental breeder

Robert is a graduate of both Iowa State and Oklahoma State. He sees the WROF as unique and important, because it recognizes and fulfills some of the leadership needs in our rural society that are not met by any other organization. He serves on the board to help create greater awareness of the impact of WROF programs, both for potential recipients and potential contributors, and to help give direction to future needs of agriculture and rural leadership. Robert points to the WROF’s new Veterinary Student Loan Program as a powerful example of how the WROF identifies key needs in the state and creates programs to address those issues. “I am proud to be part of a program that focuses on Wisconsin rural residents and Wisconsin educational experiences,” says Robert. “This focus gives us the greatest impact here in the State of Wisconsin.”

Directors Emeritus

Elton Aberle, WROF Inc. board member

Elton D. Aberle
Emeritus Dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, (CALS) UW-Madison

Elton moved to Wisconsin from Nebraska in 1998 to become Dean, CALS, UW-Madison. He joined the WROF Board in 2006. He was drawn to the Foundation because of its strong history of service to Wisconsin’s rural citizens, organizations and businesses. As a former Dean, Elton has seen firsthand the burden of financing a college education. He is convinced that the WROF’s focus to encourage and support educational opportunities of all types for rural people is the very best use of its resources. He feels strongly that rural areas must have well educated, dedicated citizens to grow and prosper in the 21st century.

Elton is proud to be a part of WROF and to work to grow its resource base so the Foundation can have an even greater impact on rural Wisconsin in the future.

Laura BeaneLaura O. Beane
Farmer, Agricultural Leader

Laura is a long-time member of the WROF board, and feels proud of how the organization has grown. “We husband our resources wisely and judiciously consider the educational needs of our rural communities,” she says. Laura feels rural leaders must be broadly educated, embracing interests and knowledge that does not stop at the farm gate. She points out that the board members intentionally remove themselves from recipient selection, but carefully define the qualifications for the WROF’s partner institutions.

Laura says she feels pride in each of the more than 5,000 recipients and the goals they have achieved with the assistance from WROF. The WROF dollars are allocated for many different fields and types of educational experiences – from rural health to rural art, to those who will actively farm and those who will fill leadership roles in agricultural and rural communities. “The need for assistance is great. I am proud to support the WROF as much as possible.”

Richard C. Hanson
Businessman, State Administrator, Department of Health and Social Services, Retired Lt. Colonel, Army, Administrator for the WROF

Richard’s early impressions of the WROF date back to when he was asked to perform administrative functions for the organization. His first interactions with the others involved convinced Richard that he was surrounded by caring board members, who shared his vision of improving conditions for rural residents in Wisconsin. Richard believes we can directly assist smaller rural communities in startup efforts that create jobs.

Of his role on the board, Richard says, “It is indeed rewarding to observe hundreds of students from rural areas advance their education in more than 30 different institutions and programs with the financial help from scholarships we provide.”

Celia Lausted
Farmer, Agricult
ural Leader

Celia believes that rural health care is crucial to the success of Wisconsin communities. The WROF support of nursing students and medical internships in rural areas assures that we maintain quality health care throughout the state. Leadership experiences through 4-H and the Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program provide educational options outside of regular classroom learning and are critical to the growth and development of full potential of our next generation of Wisconsin leaders.

In her words, “I am proud of the depth of the educational partners associated with the WROF, and enjoy seeing the impact of our support in the changed lives of our recipients.”