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A P R I L 2 0 1 610 POTATO GROWER Willem Schrage Retires From North Dakota State Seed Department Willem Schrage Director of Potato Programs for North Dakota retired April 4 2016. Willem joined the Seed Department in September of 2007 after a long distinguished and geographically diverse career in the potato industry. Willem directs field inspection shipping point tissue culturegreenhouse winter test grower relations and seed regulatory aspects of the NDSSD Seed Potato Program. Before North Dakota Seed Willem was Head of the Potato Inspection Program for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for 13 years. Willem is a native of the Nether- lands where he developed an inter- est in agriculture and farmed prior to earning an advanced degree. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in plant sciences and nema- tology which served him well in a career path taking him worldwide working with seed potatoes. Those career stops include 1976-77 International Potato Cen- ter Lima Peru. 1977-79 International Potato Cen- ter Regional Center Izmir Turkey. Development of a national seed potato program research and exten- sion. 1979-82 International Potato Cen- ter Tunis Tunisia. Tunisian National Seed Potato Program expatriate manager of the national seed potato program. 1982-85 Seed Potato Specialist for the N.B. Department of Agriculture. Duties included seed potato research and extension manage- ment coordination of the provin- cial seed potato production pro- gram. 1985-94 Florenceville New Bruns- wick Canada. Manager of the N.B. Potato Agency Provincial Potato Marketing Board. 1994-2007 East Grand Forks Minn- esota. Head of Potato Inspection Program Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Willem has been active in many professional societies and organiza- tions throughout his career. During his time in the U.S. with Minnesota and North Dakota seed agencies he has served as SecretaryTreasurer of the Potato Association of America Seed Certification Section along with service on other seed-related committees with the National Potato Council U.S. Potato Board and USDA. He has represented U.S. seed potato programs with the UNECE specialized section on seed potatoes traveling world-wide for meetings representing the U.S. This dedication to and professional rep- resentation of potato seed growers in the region speaks to Willems commitment to the seed industry. While Willems career is very much international in scope he has served this regions seed growers with distinction for over twenty years. His knowledge of and loyalty to Northern Plains Potato Growers Association seed growers evidenced by leading the two state certification agencies within the NPPGA was rec- ognized in 2013 with the National Potato Council Meritorious Service Award. This vast list of jobs and places has benefited the North Dakota seed industry and the North Dakota State Seed Department. Having experi- enced or observed seed production on every continent but Antarctica is impressive. North Dakota State Seed Commis- sioner Ken Bertsch says Willems people skills are as important as any