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Transformation at Northern Crops Institute: Leadership Change Marks New Beginnings

Fargo, N.D. (February 6, 2024) – The Northern Crops Institute (NCI) will soon have new leadership as current Director Mark Jirik announced at the December 8th meeting of the Northern Crops Council that he is stepping away for other pursuits once temporary leadership was in place.

“The timing of my departure aligns very well for NCI, as well as for me both personally and professionally,” said Jirik. “This will allow NCI to have a new director in place for the next legislative session. As we move forward, it will also allow a fresh vision and strategy for the future of the Northern Crops Institute.”

Jirik has been the Director of NCI for nearly 6 years. He has led staff to produce excellent sources of education and technical services both domestically and internationally. “On average, 56% of our short course participants are buying more commodities from the U.S. a result of what they learn, and our average tech service client is increasing their investment in our region by 24%,” stated Jirik. The NCI has experienced tremendous success by adapting through a pandemic and making changes when warranted.

“Mark’s time at NCI is marked by growth and innovation. While we are sad to see Mark leave, we appreciate where he has taken the institute.” Northern Crops Council chair Tim Dufault stated.

David Boehm, currently Technical Manager for NCI, and Dr. Casey Peterson, current Program Development Manager at NCI, have been selected to step into the Interim Co-Director’s role.

“Both David and Casey know the organization very well, and will do a great job of leading the organization until a national search can be concluded,” said Matt Swenson, vice chair of the Northern Crops Council, member of the North Dakota Oilseed Council, farmer near Walcott, ND, and member of the interim search committee.

NCI is scheduled to move into their new home at the Peltier Complex in May 2024. This new three-story and 160,000 square foot facility will also be the home of North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) food science, meat science and cereal science programs, along with North Dakota Trade Office, and the USDA Northern Plains Cereal Quality Labs. This is the largest academic building project in NDSU’s history. The name was given by the Peltier family, who have had a long history in agriculture at NDSU. The NCI is planning to make the move into the Peltier Complex in the middle of May 2024 to begin a new chapter in the organizations mission.

In the new facility, NCI will have over three times the space as today, along with three new labs for soy, protein, and fermentation. There will also be upgrades to the pasta lab, bake lab, and pilot-scale mill room. Additionally, all labs will be food-grade and recognized as safe for human consumption.

“It has been a remarkable journey over the last six years. There is a great team of people in place at NCI, and with the move to the Peltier Complex this spring, and the livestock feed production center renovations in progress, it is going to be fun to see where the next director takes NCI,” stated Jirik.

It is anticipated that The Northern Crops Council and NDSU will begin the search for the next director in the spring of 2024.

To schedule a media interview with the Northern Crops Institute, please contact Grant Christian at grant.christian@ndsu.edu or by cell at 701-412-7895.

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