Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | January 17.2019

January 16, 2019

Today’s Program | Thursday, January 17, 2019

Today:  Sitty Fitriany, Exchange Student from India (Galdeen)

Next Week: RYLA students (Hillmann)

Birthdays: Mark Abbott (1/17), Rick Esse (1/16), Mike Leming (1/16), Lynne Pederson (1/11), Erica Zweifel (1/14)

Statement of Purpose: Northfield Rotary Club is dedicated to promoting peace and understanding through service and shared experience. We invite people from all corners of the community to join us as we partner with others to support youth, build sustainable infrastructure and preserve our planet.

Guests: Nicole (former inbound), Sage (former inbound) and Jane (host sis) (Estenson), Colonel Buhler (Steed), Nita Wolf (Vorwerk)


  • Today is your last chance to nominate someone for the Good Neighbor Award. Know a non-Rotarian who embodies ‘Service above Self’? Visit our website or see Erica Zweifel for a nomination form
  • David Stanford introduced himself as our new Treasurer and got a big round of applause. If you’d like an automatic withdrawal for your dues, see him.
  • Scott Richardson gave us the board update: RCAT is pursuing an EV charging station initiative, the 4-way Taste prep is going well and is tentatively scheduled for July, the Big Idea has been narrowed down to four ideas with a finalist to be announced in March, and Bob Will was officially given honorary member status
  • Kristi Purcell says that the CRWP made their fundraising goal thanks to the generosity of many Rotarians

Happy News

  • Janice Lemkuhl just returned from a week in Pasadena where she and her husband served as petal pushers in the Rose Bowl parade. The Pasadena Rotary Club gave her a t-shirt.
  • Jim Holden reports that the group who took our inbound strudents to the Timberwolves game had a great time.
  • Jacob Conway’s son was born with a hole in his heart and is improving—he will now only need to be seen every two years.
  • Anika Rychner thanked everyone who helped move the food shelf for the CAC last week.
  • Janine Atchison was awarded recognition as a National Merit Scholar and received a letter from former President Obama.

Scholarship Enhancement: Duane Benson

Last Week: Paul Krause is not the Hall of Fame Vikings player, but he is famous in Northfield. He introduced our speaker, Larry Vorwerk, who shared his classification talk with us.

Larry was an only child for 12 minutes, until his twin brother was born. He grew up in Burlington, Iowa in a loving family with four other siblings in addition to his twin—there were three boys and then three girls. As a child, Larry enjoyed participating in a variety of activities including scouts, baseball, track and cross-country. He was interested in animals from an early ago. His parents didn’t allow him to have a dog, so he got a guinea pig and quickly befriended the neighbors’ collies. After the collies began spending more time in Larry’s yard than their own, his dad said okay to having a dog. Now Larry has had 16 dogs in his lifetime.

Larry bought his first book in first grade. He saved his pennies to purchase the book “Wild Animals” with a tiger on the cover. He saw an ad in Outdoor Life magazine that said, ‘you too can be a forest ranger’ and that was when he knew he wanted to go to college and learn to work with animals. He enjoyed small game hunting and blackberry picking with his father, and his interest in animals continued through his boyhood. He has always been curious and a scientist and if he could be anyone, he identifies most with Lewis & Clark, adventurers who enjoy discovering things.

He received a bachelor’s degree in Fisheries & Wildlife Biology from Iowa State in 1973. College field trips took him to see things like prairie chickens booming in Kansas and millions of birds migrating in Northwest Missouri’s Squaw Creek Reserve. Larry’s first full time job was in Muscatine, Iowa at the Weed Park Zoo. We saw some great photos of Larry holding an African lion cub named ‘Fat Cat’ and some pics of Dolly the Asian elephant, who enjoyed lifting the roof off of her zoo building for fun. He says that elephants have the most personality of all animals.

Larry met his first wife (also a wildlife biology major) at college and they had three children together. He was one of the first zookeepers hired at the Minnesota Zoo, starting his career there in 1978. He worked at the Minnesota Zoo for 39 years, serving on the mammal crew for 17 years and the bird crew for 20 years until he retired two years ago.

One of his most memorable experiences happened two weeks into his job when he was asked to walk the fence line of the tiger exhibit and check it. The large male tiger saw him and pounced onto the chain link fence right at Larry, but thankfully the fence held strong.

Six months after Larry’s first marriage ended, he met his wife Nita Wolf. They have been married for 20 years, have five children between them, and live on a hobby farm five miles north of Northfield. Larry showed us photos of their beautiful flowerbeds. He really enjoys gardening and finds peace in being connected to the earth. They had a pond built on their property and it has attracted 83 species to their farm. Their two dogs Honey and Sunny the lab/retrievers love to go on outdoor adventures with them.

Larry enjoys being active. He has run over 42,000 miles and walked more than 80,000 miles. The longest race he ever ran was a 50 mile run back when he was a ‘lean machine’ and he was pleased that his parents were able to be there. He finished in 7 hours and 18 minutes.He is also artistically talented, and has completed many oil paintings. His favorite subjects are—you guessed it—nature and animals. Larry authored a book called The Bartholomew Effect: Awakening to Oneness. He is enjoying life and volunteer work in retirement and says that serving others is the true way to experience oneness.

Coming Up: Jan 31 – Randall Knox, Civil Air Patrol (Frago)