Student Voice


December 4, 2023



2022 Chancellor’s Award winners announced

February 8, 2023

UW-River Falls Chancellor Maria Gallo presented the 2022 Chancellor’s University Staff Excellence Awards to Groundskeeper Jody Pederson and Academic Department Associate Jody Sather. Karalyn Littlefield, Kenneth White, and the Laboratory Farms were awarded the 2022 Chancellor’s Academic Staff and Limited Appointee Excellence Awards.

When selecting award nominees, the award committee looks for excellence in service and “going above and beyond” in staff responsibilities, as well as positive human relations and participation in university service projects outside of the job, according to the school website.

Jody Pederson has been a part of the Grounds Department at UW-River Falls since 2020. One of the River Falls native’s most notable contributions to the UWRF community is working with students to be more proactive and environmentally conscious. Thanks in part to Pederson, UWRF has become a “Bee Campus USA” affiliate. This national program aims to conserve pollinators and their habitats on campuses across the United States.

In 2023, Pederson aims to achieve her “Master Gardener” certificate, which recognizes intensive horticulture training, community projects, and volunteer work. One nominator wrote, “Jody plays an enormous role in our small department, bringing her talents, optimism, and joy to campus with every shift. She is attentive, hardworking, and always tries to bring a little more to the workplace.” Another nominator exemplified these traits with a story about how one rainy day, Pederson stayed busy by washing vehicles in the rain in order to conserve water.

Jody Sather has been a part of UWRF staff since 2008. She is currently the Academic Department Assistant for the Psychological Sciences department, a position she has held since 2015. Sather has a bachelor’s degree in Women & Gender Studies from the University of Minnesota. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from UWRF.

Sather attributes her success in part to these two degrees, as they help her relate to a wide variety of students at UWRF. She said, “Working for this department has been an asset; everyone has been so supportive and allowed me to grow and explore my strengths.” Going forward, Sather aspires to keep the department’s Peer Mentoring Program active. She also aims to increase student engagement in the Psychological Sciences club, as well as other face-to-face department activities. Sather is described by both former and current students as compassionate, helpful, and a great source for advice.

Karalyn Littlefield was “pleasantly surprised” and stated it was a “great honor” to receive a 2022 Chancellor’s Award. Having worked in the food industry prior to teaching at UWRF, Littlefield’s experience is a valuable resource for both students and department colleagues. Littlefield has been a part of UWRF staff since 2012.

Seeing students succeed, and knowing she had a small part in that success, is what motivates Littlefield to “go above and beyond” in her career. Littlefield wants students to leave UWRF not with mere facts, but with the ability to find resources to increase their knowledge and answer questions they may have in the future.

Kenneth “Kenney” White has been in the U.S. since 2001, when he immigrated from Newfoundland. He has worked at multiple universities across the United States. In 2013, he came to work at UWRF as the Associate Director for Community and Student Development and Residence Life. He has a variety of responsibilities to ensure students have a positive experience in UWRF’s residence halls, and he also supervises and trains hall directors.

“Kenney has demonstrated what a supportive leader should illustrate,” remarked one hall director. White is known amongst his colleagues as an excellent problem solver and role model. White said, “The university is a fantastic voyage of discovery. I want everyone to have an optimal experience.” He stated, “I am truly appreciative that people took the time to nominate me.”

The Mann Valley Laboratory Farm was originally developed in the 1970s. The farm is home to beef, dairy, sheep, and swine operations, as well as UWRF’s equine breeding and colt training programs, which have been around for decades. In total these two locations encompass over 600 acres. 

The land that is not directly being used for the housing and management of livestock is utilized in crop production. Students in a variety of classes earn credit hours on the Laboratory Farms to complement traditional classroom lectures. This may include drawing blood from a sheep, collecting soil samples from the fields, or other activities.

One of the many notable accomplishments of these laboratory farms is participation in the Wisconsin Dairy Innovation Hub. This means that state dollars are sent to UWRF to enable research projects on the laboratory farms.

In addition to the students of the Beef Management Team and equine program, several individuals help to oversee the farm’s operations. David James is the livestock manager and oversees hogs, beef, and sheep; Tom Brown manages the dairy herd and works with students who milk the cows each day; and Clayton Ihrke is the shop manager and works on crop production. 

Heather Campbell sets up laboratory experiences for university classes; Andrea Clark is the research specialist and works with professors on research projects; Kayla Klanderman assists with dairy and crop enterprise; Allison Kirker is a longtime assistant dairy herds manager; and Alison Mickelson works with professors and students in the equine program.

The farms’ director, Greg Zwald added, “The commitment from each individual is what makes the farm so strong. The employees all work with students who get hands-on training and make sure all work gets done as well.”

Chancellor Maria Gallo stated, “It was a competitive group of nominees, so the committee had their work cut out for them. The recipients this year have particularly made a huge difference in the lives of our students.” She also said, “this is what to me makes celebrating individuals like this so special-knowing that every member of the Falcon Family cares about the success of our students.”