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Wyse, sustainable ag champion, dies

Don Wyse had been with the University of Minnesota for 50 years.

Kevin Schulz, Editor

July 10, 2024

1 Min Read
Don Wyse holding long grass in field
GROWING LEGACY: During his time at the University of Minnesota, Don Wyse influenced many of the lives of his co-workers and students, while working to create a more sustainable agriculture.University of Minnesota

A hole was created in the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences, and more specifically the Agronomy and Plant Genetics Department, with the recent passing of Don Wyse.

Wyse, of Shoreview, Minn., died July 2 at the age of 77. According to a printed obituary, Wyse recently celebrated 50 years of teaching and research at the University of Minnesota. During his time at U-M, Wyse instructed thousands of undergraduate students, advised more than 100 graduate students, published more than 200 scientific journal articles, wrote two book chapters, and held 14 research patents and six plant variety patents.

Wyse also co-founded and was co-director of the Forever Green Initiative, a research platform of CFANS that is developing and improving winter-hardy annual and perennial crops that protect soil and water, while driving new economic opportunities for growers, industry and communities across Minnesota. By combining these novel crops with traditional annual crops, farmers can keep the soil covered year-round. This approach to farming with “continuous living cover” can enhance the efficiency and sustainability of Minnesota agriculture.

Continued work through Forever Green Initiative will ensure that Wyse’s legacy lives on.

Wyse is survived by his wife of 55 years, Bev; children, Dawn (Todd) Wyse-Pester of Shoreview and Ryan (Mary) Wyse of Elk River; grandchildren Hayden Pester (Leah Marek), Lara Pester (Jake Chilson), Cameron Wyse (Megan Biggs) and Connor Wyse; his brother, Roger Wyse (Jaleh Daie) of Austin, Texas; his sister, Marie (Paul) Sprankle of Columbus, Ohio; and many extended family members and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Earl and Ruth Wyse.

A memorial service has yet to be announced, and memorials are preferred to a scholarship fund in Wyse’s name.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

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