The Alumni/Foundation will present the awards on Friday, September 30 during the Alumni and Friends Awards Social, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in The Alley at the Hektner Student Center on the NDSCS campus in Wahpeton. The public is invited to attend and celebrate the honorees. Information and registration, as well as additional information about the honorees, can be found at ndscsalumni.com/homecoming.
The 2022 NDSCS Homecoming Honorees include:
Roger Hentges is the perfect fit for the Alumnus of the Year honor. He has been an ambassador for NDSCS for more than 35 years, he consistently demonstrates love for the College, and he’s always ready and willing to assist. Hentges is a 1962 NDSCS Mechanical Drafting and Design graduate who over the years has developed curriculum and recruited NDSCS students to mentor through his position at Mid America Steel. He began his career there in 1962, eventually became the Vice President of Production and Sales, and semi-retired in 2008. Hentges and his wife, Donna, have exemplified generosity by continuously donating their time and through significant monetary gifts. In just the past five years, they have established a named Endowment Scholarship that provides tuition assistance, supported the Annual Giving Campaign and participated in the DREAMS Auction. They live in West Fargo, N.D.
Chris and Suzanne Johnson, on behalf of C&S Farms, are the 2022 Friend of the College. Chris and Suzanne, who are farmers in Richland County, N.D., have supported and been great ambassadors for NDSCS and the Alumni/Foundation for decades. For example, they consistently support the annual DREAMS Auction, attend Meet and Greets and create educational opportunities for future students through a scholarship endowment. Their caring spirit is exemplified through their support of the Wildcats Care Emergency Grant, Agriculture scholarships, Nursing scholarships, and the emerging “Tools for Opportunity” program. Chris, a 1978 Agriculture graduate, just completed his service on the NDSCS Alumni Foundation Board, a post he held for more than 9 years. Suzanne works at Dakota High School, Fargo, and always encourages students to attend NDSCS.
Vivian Bernotas, the 2022 Parade Grand Marshal, has served the College in various professional and involvement roles for more than 30 years. She completed her education at NDSCS, then NDSSS, in 1970, graduating with her Stenography certificate. Immediately following graduation, she became the secretary to the base commander at Finley Air Force Radar Site in Finley, N.D., where she met her husband, Tom. Following the couple’s return to Wahpeton, Bernotas became the Clerk of Municipal Court, a position she held for 13 years before returning to NDSCS to work in the Mildred Johnson Library. In 2006, after 15 years in the library, she became the Executive Assistant to the President, a position she held for an additional 15 years. Bernotas also served on Staff Senate and as Advisor to the Campus Activities Board, and as a volunteer for the DREAMS Auction and Alumni Meet and Greets. She and her husband have four children and twelve grandchildren.
Curt Gollnick, the longtime voice of the NDSCS football and basketball programs, is the 2022 Wildcat of the Year. Gollnick is a 1965 graduate of Wheaton (Minn.) High School who served in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1969 and discovered his ‘radio voice’ while he was in the Navy Band. He landed his first radio job at KWAD in Wadena, Minnesota, then worked at KBMW in Wahpeton as the afternoon host for several years. Gollnick started announcing Wildcats football games in the fall of 1996, and in 2004 he became the voice of the Wildcats for basketball games. He took several other part-time jobs over the years but always came back to announcing for NDSCS, and he will only announce for NDSCS and Region 1 North Dakota games. NDSCS honors and appreciates Gollnick for being a fantastic Wildcats fan and for the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours he has dedicated to calling Wildcat athletics.
The Barney and Millie Hilgers Family has been selected to receive the Family Tradition Award. The Hilgers family NDSCS tradition dates back to 1946, and since then every family member who has sought higher education started at NDSCS. Bernard T. “Barney” Hilgers served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II and met his wife, Mildred “Millie” McGregor, who was serving in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in Ephrata, Washington. The couple married in 1944. Hilgers enrolled in NDSCS after the war, then earned a teacher training certificate in Machine Shop from Dunwoody Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He returned to NDSCS in 1946 to teach in the automotive, welding, and machine tooling departments and was the Machine Tooling Department Chair. He officially graduated from NDSCS in 1968 with an Associate degree in Sheet Metal. Hilgers went on to become the Occupation Coordinator, a position he held until he retired in 1983. NDSCS previously honored Hilgers by naming him the 1994 Homecoming Grand Marshal. He and Millie lived in Wahpeton until 2005, then moved to Fargo. Barney passed away in 2016, Mille in 2007. They were married 63 years and had six children, 11 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.
“Our parents valued family first, church second, and NDSCS third,” Sheila (Hilgers) Beauchene said. “They truly lived and breathed NDSCS, proudly promoting the school wherever they went. The ‘learn by doing’ motto was extremely important to us all.”
Several of the Hilgers children and their spouses attended NDSCS, as well:
- Kathy (Hilgers) Larson graduated in 1966 with a degree in Pre-Education.
- Dan Hilgers earned a degree in Pre-Education in 1969.
- Patti (Hilgers) Haberman earned her Pre-Education degree in 1969 and met her husband, Carl ‘Chuck’ Haberman, at NDSCS. He graduated in 1970 with a Pre-Engineering degree.
- Mike Hilgers is a 1974 NDSCS graduate with a degree in Architectural Drafting and Estimating Technology.
- Brian Hilgers graduated from NDSCS in 1976 with an Associate degree in Business and an emphasis in healthcare.
- Sheila (Hilgers) Beauchene graduated from NDSCS in 1982 with a Legal Secretary degree and a Certificate in Data Processing.