2015 - Joe Blankenship '98
Growing up on a ranch in eastern Montana, the decision to attend Dickinson State University was easy for Joe Blankenship. Joe came to Dickinson State to rodeo and rodeo he did. A highlight of his collegiate career was winning two go-rounds at the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) finals and finishing the 1997 season in fourth place for bull riding. Looking back at that team, his teammates were like brothers. Perhaps that is why the team finished third in the nation in 1997 and second in 1998. Today, they are all still friends. At the time, Dickinson State didn’t have a four-year Ag program, so Joe got a Bachelor of Science in University Studies with a concentration in Agriculture. Today, Joe works for Woody’s Feed & Grain and travels around to rodeos all across North Dakota and Montana as a pickup man. He values his Christian beliefs as well as his relationship with his parents Bill & Kitty, wife Robin and their five children – Hayes, Boon, MacKenzie, McKayla, and Ireland.
“I received a really great education from DSU. I have very fond memories and created lifelong friendships.”
2014 - Beni Paulson '99
Beni Paulson ’99 was born and raised in Dunn County, ND and attended school in Killdeer, ND. Growing up on a ranch, he was very active in the ranch way of life and enjoyed rodeos and riding bulls. He came to DSU after he attained his associate’s degree from Laramie County Community College in Wyoming. Dickinson State offered Beni the opportunity to rodeo at the collegiate level while still building up his cow herd on the side. While at Dickinson State University, he was active in the Rodeo Club and as a bull rider on the rodeo team. Beni’s greatest accomplishment was being a two-time Great Plains Regional Intercollegiate Champion in bull riding as well as having the men’s team place as the reserve national champion and third place at nationals. After his college graduation, he rode the professional bull riding circuit for five years while adding to his cow herd. Beni has now built up his operation to include a 3,500 acre spread for both farming and ranching. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his family and friends in their local band, Outlaw Sippin’. Beni is married to his wife, Michelle, and they have one son, Cheyden.
“DSU means a better future for North Dakota and the people that live here. I can’t imagine western North Dakota without Dickinson State University and all it offers not only students, but also to all the residents in the form of extended learning, entertainments, sports and other activities.” Beni Paulson
2013 - Ben Hetzel '01
Ben Hetzel grew up in Lemmon, SD, where he attended Lemmon High School. The biggest highlight of his pre-college youth was playing sports and bullfighting for high school and 4-H rodeos. Ben attended DSU because his brother and his wife graduated from DSU (Heath & Kris Smith Hetzel). In addition, his sister, Sally Hetzel Hoover, and cousin, Billie Jo Lorius, were also attending DSU at the time. Ben received a sponsorship award from Southwest Grain Division of CHS Inc., which allowed him to work while attending school and stay close to home. He majored in Agriculture and received an Associate Degree in Farm and Ranch Management, graduating with honors. While at DSU, Ben was elected as an Off Campus Student Senator and later became the NDSA State Student Affairs Representative. As a student senator, he was selected to serve on Faculty Senate as the student representative for one semester. The highlight of his DSU experience was meeting his wife, Holly Kling Hetzel. They were married in 2001 and have three children, Jacob (10), Sarah (8) and Drew (5), and will be blessed with a new addition near Thanksgiving. After graduation in 2001, Ben spent six weeks doing missionary work in Uganda, Africa, with a college friend. He acquired his Series III license and was hired as the assistant grain manager and started a branch office for Country Hedging in Lemmon, SD. Ben spent one year working as an Ag/Business loan officer with Wells Fargo in Bowman, ND, from 2004-2005 and then returned as the grain department manager for SWG in Lemmon. In July 2010 Ben was promoted to location manager.
“DSU will always be considered an important stepping stone for me as it allowed me to meet many people that still have an impact in my life, most importantly my wife. My experience in the classroom, the rodeo arena and in the community all helped to guide me to my success but it has always been the people that God has put in my life that have had the biggest impact.” Ben Hetzel
2012 - Perry Boespflug '79
Perry Boespflug, a native of Richardton, N.D., graduated from Dickinson State in 1979 where he received his associate of agricultural studies with an emphasis on agricultural sale/service. He received the “Top Salesmanship” Award in the Ag Sales Collegiate Division in 1978, which would remain prevalent in his career.
After a few years as an oilfield roughneck and then five years with the City of Dickinson, Perry moved into the family business managing the feed sales and trailer parts/repair in 1989. By 1992, he had helped grow the Hubbard, Feeds portion of the business to be one of the largest 'volume producers in the Dakotas and l became a partner in the business.
It was in 2003 when Perry, his wife Annette and T purchased complete interest in Boespflug Trailers and continued to grow the business. Five years later they decided to disband the feed portion of the business and focus their efforts on the trailer industry. This turned out to be a great idea as they have since grown to one of the largest stocking trailer dealer in the Upper Midwest.
In 2010 and 2011, Boespflug trailers was named the #1 Volume Dealer of Featherlite Trailers in the United States and have been the Highest Volume Livestock Dealer for five years in a row. These are just a few of the many prestigious rankings that Boesflug Trailers has earned over the past twenty-nine years of operations.
Perry and his wife Annette have three children, Tyler, Cole, and Kayla, and one grandchild.
“DSU provided the basic educational skills that broadened my technical knowledge of Agriculture and Animal Science. The program was in its infancy at the time, but it sparked enough interest in me to continue to learn about the ag industry.” Perry Boespflug
2011 - Roger Myers '60
Roger Myers graduated from Dickinson State University in 1960 with a BS in secondary education, majoring in social science with minors in History and English. While attending DSU, he was president of the student body from 1959 –1960 and was selected to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. After graduation, he returned to the family ranch in Medora and operated it for 51 years, retiring in January 2011.
He was a member of the Billings County School Board for nine years and served as its president for five years. He served on the Board of Directors of the Medora Grazing Association for 12 years, on the Billings County Zoning Board, and on the Billings County Weed Board. He was a member of the Medora Lutheran Church Council for 50 years, serving as its president for 25 years and as a member of the Belfield Lutheran Parish Council for 25 years.
Roger married Peggy Hogoboom in 1959, has four children and nine grandchildren. After Peggy’s death, he married Sandy Tjaden. Roger and Sandy spend time between Bismarck and Medora, ND, and Destin, FL.
2010 - Steven Heger '00
Steven Heger graduated from DSU with degrees in Farm & Ranch Management and Ag Sales & Service. While at DSU he played on the offensive line for the Blue Hawk football team, was a member of the Ag Club and, in the fall of 2000, was a member of the homecoming court. That same year he was also honored with the Academic All American award and was First Team All Conference. Steven grew up in Underwood, ND and currently resides and farms with his family on a third generation farm where he raises winter and spring wheat, corn, oil sunflowers, pinto beans and peas. Steven’s time and experiences at DSU are a key part to the success of his farming operation. In addition, Heger serves on the Falkirk Farmer’s Elevator board, the McLean County Farm Bureau Board and on the North Dakota Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Committee. The Heger’s have also hosted Horsch Anderson Days twice and hosted and presented to participants at the 2008 National Association of State Departments of Ag (NASDA) annual meeting. Heger has been featured in the Minot Daily News and Farm & Ranch Guide for his farming practices. He is married to Katie and they have four children: Ben, Libby, Christian, and Nellie Jo.
2009 - Dr. Jerry Volesky '80
Volesky grew up on a family farm in Billings county and has spent his educational and professional career dedicated to range science. Volesky has extensive research experience and currently conducts grazing management research and develops forage management programming at the University of Nebraska. He is the Associate Editor of Arid Land Research and Management and has authored and co-authored 45 scientific research papers and 30 extension publications.
2008 - Brad Gjermundson '86
Gjermundson received his associate’s degree in farm and ranch management from DSU in 1986. A talented saddle bronc rider, Brad has won four PRCA titles from 1981 through 1985 and qualified for the National Rodeo Finals eight times. In 1983 and 1988, Gjermundson captured the NFR saddle bronc title and was inducted into the Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. Brad is a rancher from Marshall, ND.
2007 - Gary Wingenbach '85
Gary Wingenbach '85, College Station, Texas, received his Associates Degree in Agricultural Sales and Services from Dickinson State University in 1985. He then went on to receive his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Oregon State University, and he completed his doctorate in Agriculture Education from Iowa State University. He is currently an associate professor of agricultural communications and journalism at Texas A&M. Wingenbach excels at teaching, research, and scholarly activities. He has contributed over 40 articles to national journals, and has been named one of the Top 10 Most Prolific Authors. He is also a recipient of the Outstanding International Agricultural Education Award.
2006 - Anthony and Karen Messmer '72
Anthony and Karen (Hoerner) Messmer ’72, of Richardton, ND, are owners and operators of Messmer Red Angus. They have owned and operated a registered Red Angus cattle ranch near Richardton, ND, since 1974. The Messmers host the DSU livestock class every year for discussion because of their progressive use of technology such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer in their herd management. They have received the National Red Angus Breeders of the Year Award and were named the Ag Family of the Year by the West River Ag Expo & Livestock Show.
2005 - Frank Kubik '39
Frank is a retired rancher from Dickinson, ND. He owned and operated Kubik Polled Hereford Ranch.
2004 - Joanne Beckman '72
Joanne (Wherley) Beckman ‘72 is the assistant to the commissioner for the North Dakota Department of Agriculture in Bismarck, N.D., since 1997. She promotes the Agriculture in the Classroom Program, serves on the steering committee for Marketplace for Entrepreneurs, and is the chair of the steering committee for Marketplace for Kids. Prior to this position, she was an English instructor for grades 8 -12, along with speech and theatre, journalism, mass media and career education teaching duties from 1972-97. Joanne, and her husband, Dale '72, reside in New Salem, N.D. They have two daughters, a son-in-law, and three grandsons.
2003 - Milton Hertz '55
Since graduating from Dickinson State Teachers College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1955, Milt has been farming/ranching in the Mott area. He has been a former president of the DSU Alumni Association, member of the DSU Foundation Board, member of the Blue Hawk Booster Club, member of the North Dakota Board of Higher Education, and in 1969 was named one of four Outstanding American Farmer awards. He also received Dickinson State's Chief Award in 1978.