Archives Archive

Northfield Rotary Cogwheel – November 21, 2019

November 21, 2019

Next Week: TURKEY TROT ­— All hands on deck!

Birthdays: Jim Prichard (11/17), Kim Briske (11/22), Art Monaghan (11/25), Beth Kallestad (11/26) and  Matt Hillmann (11/29)

Last Week:

The politics of division and fear are both dehumanizing and dangerous, said Minnesota Representative Todd Lippert (DFL-House 20B). A vision of America that pits urban against rural, white against black and brown and old immigrants against new needs to be replaced with a more hopeful narrative, Todd said, one that acknowledges common interests and focuses on economic and racial equity. 

Todd, an ordained minister and first-term legislator from Northfield, said his vision is based on what he calls “communion table values.” We welcome people; we value everyone, and we make sure everyone has enough. From a policy perspective, those values translate into fully-funded schools, clean water, a stable climate, the wherewithal to care for children and elders and more generally racial and economic equity. 

“We’re in this together,” he said. “We have to be.”

Todd has an affinity for small towns and rural areas. He grew up in a small town in northwest Iowa, earned a degree from University of Iowa and received his theological training at United Theological Seminary in New Brighton. He served as a parish minister for eight years in southwest Wisconsin and has been at First UCC Northfield for the past seven years. He plans to resign in February to dedicate more time to promoting a common political agenda across geographical lines. 

Todd said he is excited about the city council’s recent adoption of a climate action plan. He is a member of the House Climate Action Caucus. He also serves on the Agriculture Committee and Water Policy Committee. He said land management that puts carbon in the ground is a productive strategy to achieve carbon sequestration. 


Kristi Pursell grew up in Minnesota and moved to Northfield in 2014. She serves as executive director of Cannon River Watershed Partnership (CRWP). She is married with two children, a first grader and a four-year old. She will share more when she does her formal classification presentation.

Outbound Exchange Students:  

Anel Barojas Velazquez, Japan

Erin Gunn, Brazil

Paul Hanifl, Japan

Elsa Hoff, Spain

Andre Ischler Simonet, Spain

Elsa Kasten, Czech Republic, Slovakia

Rachel Leonard, Brazil

Athziri Marcial Rodriquez, Brazil

Samuel Pratt, Italy

Julia Radtke, Norway

Lezly Marcial Rosas, Italy

Armando Vadez, Taiwan


Guest: Cole Jones (Cogan)

Scholarship Enhancement:  

Sophie, our exchange student from Germany


• President-Elect Vicki Dilley announced that three new members have been approved by the board. They are Krista Danner, The Y’s new executive director; Amy Gorowitz, member of the Northfield School Board; and Karen Alawalla is renewing her membership after some time away. They will all be formally inducted at a later date.

• Jim Pokorney informed us that a group of turkeys is called a “rafter.” He wants Rotary’s rafter equivalent to sign-up for one of 57 volunteer spots at this year’s Turkey Trot. Look for a signup online or at today’s meeting.

• Robert Bierman thanked the club for its passionate support of the Turkey Trot, now in its 19th year. Sponsorships came in well and as of last Thursday, we had 668 people registered. He would like to see the food donations grow this year. Keep that in mind.

• Alan Anderson reported that the city council earlier this month passed a Climate Action Plan for the city. He encouraged us to go to the city website and read it.

• Janine Atchison thanked all who helped make last week’s Thanksgiving dinner at The Key such a success.  

Coming Up:  

Decmber 5 — Tony Huettl Classification (Quinnell)

Decmber 12 — Mark Priszler, Exchange Student (Lasswell & Frago)

Decmber 19 — Ellen Iverson, Classification (W. Sivanich)

Decmber 5 — No meeting. Enjoy the holidays.


Northfield Rotary Cogwheel – November 14, 2019

November 14, 2019

oday: Trisha Duncan, Classification (Pursell)

Next Week: Ara Ruiz Gonzalez, Exchange Student (Galdeen)

Birthdays: Lee Dilley (11/10); Greg Carlson (11/11); Carl Caskey, Virginia Lorang and Anika Rychner (11/14)

Last Week:

Got Milk? Kim Furmann does.

Kim is a self-proclaimed military brat with a deep love and respect for those who serve. She is also a “get it done” kind of woman.

When her husband, a helicopter pilot, was deployed to Iraq, his main complaint was that the milk over there was not very good. Kim’s response? I can fix that.

She immediately got to work on a plan to ship fresh milk to the service men and women stationed there. With the cooperation of Kwik Trip, who donated the milk, and Continental Dry Ice, Kim began experimenting with packaging and shipping options. She hit on the right method, and the milk began to flow. The media, including AP and the Pioneer Press, picked up the story, and donations began to flow in as well.

The milk project is just one example of Kim’s work to support our veterans. She also leads a campaign to thank military members for their service. For Kim, every day is Veteran’s Day.

Thank you for your efforts Kim!


Richard Maus contracted polio in 1939 at the age of four months. He spent 938 days in the hospital and endured 16 trips to the operating room. As one might expect, this greatly impacted his early life. He struggled to maintain friendships as he went back and forth from classroom to hospital. His study habits suffered until he was able to pull it together in college. He earned a degree in math and physics and had a successful career as a teacher and author.

He swims daily at 50 North, and that’s where he met our speaker, Kim Furmann. Richard said, “It was six months before I saw her with clothes on.” 

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.


Guest: Judy Schortzko (DeBeau)


• Rachel Estrella is looking for Rotarians to help interview outbound Youth Exchange candidates on Monday, December 2nd.

• Jean Wakely attended the Rotary Foundation Dinner and reports that Richard Maus spoke and our club received two awards for our work toward eradicating polio.

• Jim Holden is seeking a driver to accompany our Youth Exchange students to the Timberwolves game on Saturday, November 16th.

• Todd Thompson reminded us of the End Human Trafficing Event at St. John’s Fellowship Hall tonight.

• Jim Pokorney still has slots to fill for Turkey Trot helpers.

Happy News:  

• Cake was served in honor of Sophie’s birthday.

• Beth Kallestad announced that the city adopted the climate action plan.

• Rachel Estrella announced that a new addition to her family will be coming – a baby, not a T-Rex as her son had hoped.

Coming Up:  

November 28 — Turkey Trot — No Regular Meeting

Decmber 5 — Tony Huettl Classification (Quinnell)

Decmber 12 — Mark Priszler, Exchange Student (Lasswell & Frago)


Northfield Rotary Cogwheel – November 7, 2019

November 7, 2019

Today: Kim Fuhrmann, Classification (Maus)

Next Week: Trisha Duncan, Classification (Pursell)

Birthdays: Rotarians Around the World

Last Week:

District Governor Paul Perez – dressed as a Polio Plus superhero for Halloween – shared stories of the impact Rotary has had on him and his family. Paul’s wife Susan is an active Rotarian; their son Anthony was a Youth Exchange student in Germany, the same year their family hosted their first Rotary student. “I’ve grown so much in Rotary, and my family and I have had so many opportunities,” Paul says. “Every time I’ve said ‘Yes’ to Rotary, good things have happened.” 

Paul walked us through Rotary’s new vision statement – the first-ever statement drafted by Rotary International Board of Trustees and the Rotary Foundation together: “Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change — across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.” 

He talked about Rotary’s four focuses for this year:

Grow Rotary – more members, and also more giving to Rotary Foundation plus more and bigger service projects. 

Involve families – “Rotary should complement, not compete with, our families. We should be intentional about including our families” in socials and service projects.

Built pathways to District leadership – “We want to make the process easier. Members shouldn’t have to be retired [to have the time] to be District Governor.”

Strengthen Rotary’s partnership with the United Nations – In fact, 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the charter between Rotary and the U.N. Watch for activities to honor and strengthen that partnership.

Paul spoke to the core values of Rotary – fellowship, integrity, diversity, leadership and service. (His first test of service during his induction? Being served a raw egg. He ate it. “I guess that proved I have the stomach for Rotary,” Paul laughs.)

Paul not only plays a Polio Plus superhero on Halloween, he is one in real life: Paul and Susan traveled to India with Rotary to give polio vaccinations there. “You’d give a baby those two lifesaving drops, and you could just see the relief come over that mother’s face, that her child was safe from contracting the virus,” Paul recalls. 

“It’s really our own stories that show others the passion of Rotary.”


Jean Wakely stitched together a lovely little mini-classification about traveling with her daughter to speak at the American Quilt Study Group’s Seminar in Lincoln, Nebraska. Jean spoke to the group about her mother’s story quilts. 

Best Costume:

The Best Halloween Costume contest began with an auspicious 13 contenders . . . ultimately bested by Alyssa Herzog Melby as Rosie the Riveter.


Guest: Tim McCone (Quinnell)

Scholarship Enhancement: Ara Ruiz Gonzalez


• Jesse Steed invited volunteers to help with outbound student interviews on Dec. 2 (5:30-8:00 pm). Contact Jesse or Rachel Estrella if interested.

• Rick Estenson offered Turkey Trot yard signs – promote this great event in your own front yard! P.S. register for the run online at

• Jim Pokorney is rounding up Turkey Trot volunteers. Watch for his email with a SignUpGenius link.

• Robert Bierman knows there’s more to a healthy diet than just turkey: Turkey Trot is collecting donations for the food shelf this year. Participants and volunteers are asked to bring a food item (or more!) on Trot Day to donate to the food shelf.


EV Charging Station Application

May 16, 2019

The Rotary Club of Northfield’s RCAT team has put together an application for area businesses to apply for a grant to install an EV charging station. Apply with the pdf below and send to Andrei Sivanich at or mail to:

Rotary Club of Northfield
PO Box 271
Northfield, MN 55057

The deadline is July 1st, 2019.


Rotary EV Charging Project – Application

Rotary announces ‘Good Neighbor’ Award

April 2, 2019

March 30, 2019

Press Release Regarding: Rotary Good Neighbor Award

Northfield Rotary this week named Mar Valdecantos Rotary’s Good Neighbor for 2019. The award goes each year to a non-Rotarian resident of Northfield School District whose community work reflects Rotary’s commitment to “service above self.”

Mar is a tireless advocate for under-represented members of the community. She serves as chair of Northfield Human Rights Commission, a member of the Governor’s Task Force On Housing, a member of Northfield Affordable Housing Task Force and a radio host for “El Super Barrio,” a local radio program produced for the Latino community. Mar is a member of Neighbors United, a local organization dedicated to increasing the visibility and empowerment of Northfield’s immigrant community. She has worked to build bridges between recent arrivals and the larger Northfield community. She has worked on the Municipal ID program among other collaborative work.

Mar, a trained sociologist, accepted the award on behalf of Neighbors United. She said it takes a team effort to make things happen. “It’s never a one person deal,” she said.

Alyssa Herzog-Melby, a member of Rotary’s Good Neighbor selection committee, said Mar Valdecantos is an outstanding example of a Northfielder who invests in her community. “Her work embodies good neighbor and then some,” she said.

To learn more about Rotary, join us on Thursdays from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. at Northfield United Methodist Church or visit our web site at:

Rotary to support Key remodeling

March 3, 2019

Photo Caption:

From Left: Scott Richardson, Rotary president; Barry Carlson, Rotary president-elect; Cortney Fischer, Zoe Condon and Sky Mace, Northfield Union of Youth; Emily Fulton-Foley, executive director of Northfield Union of Youth; Richard Schulte, Rotary member; Chuck Follen, member of Union of Youth Board; and Jean Wakely, Rotary past president.


Northfield Rotary Club announced this week it will become a project partner with Northfield Union of Youth to help remodel The Key at 109 West Sixth Street, a touch-point for a variety of youth services.

The Union of Youth is planning a major reconfiguration of the floor plan this year at a cost of $150,000. Rotary is committed to providing a $20,000 donation and in-kind services, including sweat equity.

Emily Fulton-Foley, executive director of Northfield Union of Youth, said Rotary’s commitment represents a significant boost to the project.

“To Northfield Union of Youth, the support of Rotary is pivotal,” Fulton-Foley said. “They have provided support to crucial community actions and organizations for years. To have their influence and support is not only validation of the importance of our youth center, but it helps grow our mission of giving youth voice and power. If each Rotarian spoke to a friend, neighbor, or acquaintance about the work we are doing, our youth could be uplifted in ways that would impact their entire lives.”

The project is needed, Fulton-Foley says, because of increased usage — more than 22,000 youth visits over the past 24 months — and the need for safety upgrades and open programming space that allows for better staff supervision. The Union of Youth has been working around a warren of rooms left over from a 1950s design. The Rotary donation will be used specifically to upgrade the kitchen area. Rotary has been providing a meal once a month at The Key for the last 15 months.

For the past two years, Rotary has been working on a major international service project to bring clean water to several villages in Guatemala. With that project well underway, the club decided its next major project should address a local need.

“The Key project aligns perfectly with our identified areas of passion,” said Scott Richardson, president of Rotary, “We have the capacity to make a significant difference in the success of this project, and it provides many opportunities for member engagement.”

Rotary has partnered with The Union of Youth before in its effort to secure the building at 109 Sixth Street West. In the recent past, it has also supported the skate park at Old Memorial Park and the musical playground at Way Park.

Northfield Rotary Club is a service organization known for its work on youth exchange, polio eradication, climate change and promoting service above self. It meets every Thursday noon at Northfield United Methodist Church. Guests are welcome.

Climate Change Statement

November 12, 2018

Northfield Rotary Club recognizes that climate change is real, it is us and it is urgent. We are committed to initiating a grassroots response to climate change to accelerate the action required to meet this monumental challenge. Our Rotary Climate Action Team recently adopted the Climate Change Statement below and invites other Rotary clubs around the world to do the same.

Climate Statement Northfield Rotary Club

Thanksgiving Turkey Trot is Community’s Unofficial Homecoming

October 24, 2017

The Northfield Rotary Turkey Trot has become Northfield’s unofficial homecoming event for the 1000-plus runners and walkers who participate each year.

Now in its 17th year, the 5K run/walk is a Thanksgiving tradition for many Northfield households, a “must-do” for those who want to connect with old friends and neighbors and be reminded that Northfield is always home.

Rob Bierman, chair of Rotary’s Turkey Trot Committee, said this event has become one of the community’s signature events.

“The Turkey Trot gives Northfielders an opportunity to touch base with one another and reflect on their shared experience here in Northfield,” said Bierman. “You’ll see lots of hugs and hear a lot of catching up before and during the run/walk. There is always a lot of positive energy here.”

He said it also gives people an opportunity to express their gratitude by running or walking for a good cause.  Funds raised at the Turkey Trot will support Rotary’s ongoing work with its youth exchange program and polio eradication. Northfield is known as a “rock star” in Rotary youth exchange circles. Northfield regularly sends 10 to 15 students abroad each year and this year is hosting five foreign students.

On the polio front, Rotary International and its partners have made remarkable progress toward a polio-free world. Over the last 30 years, polio cases around the globe have been reduced by 99 percent. Only three countries remain polio endemic — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria — so the campaign continues.

The Turkey Trot will begin at the Carleton College Weitz Center (north entrance) at 9 a.m. Same-day registration opens at 8 a.m. The cost is $15 per participant if you register by Thursday, Nov. 9, or $20 if you register after that. Runners and walkers are encouraged to bring their dogs to the event. Canines will be recognized with a bandana complements of Countryside Animal Hospital and Kennels, one of the Turkey Trot’s major sponsors.

For those who will not be in town the day of the event, there is a “free-range” option. You can show your solidarity with Rotary and its goals by staging your own 5K with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day and upload a photo or video of your experience. Registration for the “free-range” run is also November 9.

The Turkey Trot is also dedicated to collecting food for the Northfield Food Shelf. Runners and walkers are invited to bring a food donation to the Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning.

For registration or more information, go to: If you have other questions, please call Rob Bierman at 612-226-9237.

Chris Weber is Rotary’s literacy champion

April 25, 2017

Northfield Rotary is well known for its support of Polio Plus, an international campaign to eradicate polio. Closer to home, people associate it with youth exchange and bike trails.

But thanks to volunteers like Chris Weber, literacy is another area where Rotary is making a difference.

Chris has been chairing Rotary’s Literacy Committee for five years. During his tenure, Rotary has partnered with the local Early Childhood Initiative Coalition (ECIC) and other community organizations to make gently used books more accessible to families across the community. It has also contributed monetarily to the recent Northfield Public Library expansion and the new bookmobile, coming soon to neighborhoods near you. In 2016, Northfield Rotary received a district literacy award for its work here at home as well as its support of international literacy work, such as Books for Africa.

Chris comes by his literacy passion both from personal experience and from his Rotary connections. He and his wife, Deanne, read to their kids from infancy on, and saw the difference it made in their children’s social and academic development. Then, at a Rotary International convention he was seated next to the point person for Rotary’s literacy efforts. After listening to him for an hour, Chris was all in.

Rotary joined with ECIC, Healthy Community Initiative and Early Childhood Family Education to create a system for collecting gently used books and then distributing them at key community locations. It has also contributed to Northfield Promise’s reading team. Chris invites anyone with used children’s books to drop them off inside the north door to Northfield Community Resource Center.

Michelle Lasswell, president of Northfield Rotary Club, said literacy is one of Rotary International’s six areas of focus.

“Basic education and literacy are essential for reducing poverty, improving health, encouraging community and economic development, and promoting peace,” she said. “This is the main reason why Rotary International is dedicated to promoting literacy.”

Chris’s leadership has been a difference-maker, she said.

“Chris took the initiative to act on his passion, and since it began he has helped make this a sustainable program that puts books into the hands of children who might not otherwise have access to these books,” she said. “He has expanded it to include Spanish speaking books. His leadership and commitment have truly helped this program grow and has made a difference for children here in Northfield.”

Chris points out that Rotary’s literacy efforts are possible because of the active support from his committee and other Rotary volunteers.

“We couldn’t do any of this without the help of other Rotarians, especially those on our committee,” he said.

Chris and the Rotary Literacy Committee would like to make adult literacy the next area of focus. Rice County’s adult literacy rate is lower than the state average, he said. Closing that gap would enable more adults to fully participate in community life and to better navigate the business of daily living.

— 30 —

Caption: Chris Weber, chair of Northfield Rotary’s Literacy Committee.

Rotary raises funds for international projects

March 27, 2017

Northfield Rotary helped build a school in Thailand by funding a brick-making machine

Northfield Rotary Club raised more than $10,500 for international service projects at its recent Rotary Foundation Centennial dinner.

“This is a remarkable amount, above and beyond our club members’ normal contributions,” said Michelle Lasswell, president of Northfield Rotary. “This is another example of our members’ strong commitment to building goodwill around the globe.”

The dinner was held February 16. Sarah Swan McDonald, a Social Studies teacher at Northfield High School, Northfield’s Teacher of the Year and a former youth exchange student, talked to the 80 people present about philanthropy. Members of the club’s International Service Projects committee reviewed past projects underwritten in part by the club.

Rotary Foundation is the $1 billion charitable arm of Rotary International. Its mission is to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty. The foundation taps into a global network of Rotarians who invest their time, money and expertise to address the challenges of poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition with sustainable solutions that have a lasting impact.

Northfield Rotary is currently developing a major clean water project for some 50 villages that surround Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Past projects funded, in part, by Northfield Rotary include Books for Africa,  a generator project  for Yendube Children’s Hospital in Togo, solar panels for a rural medical clinic in Korbongou, Togo, school supplies and books in partnership with the Cilongu Foundation for a school in Democratic Republic of Congo, and bunk beds for a residential school in Tanzania.

Northfield Rotary Club was formed in 1925 and is one of 64 clubs in southeastern and east central Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. With 130 active members, it supports youth exchange, polio eradication, literacy, bike trails and a variety of international projects designed to improve health and education around the globe.