A fourth-generation North Dakotan and third-generation rodeo cowboy, shadd piehl grew up near the Mouse River south of Minot, N.D. He has been a ranch hand, stockyard bird, hog hide shaver, warehouse lumper, teacher, and rodeo cowboy. As a saddle bronc rider, he competed for NDSU in intercollegiate rodeo and was twice the Great Plains Region's bronc riding champion. Shadd is a graduate of NDSU and Minnesota State University Moorhead and has taught English and literature in Belcourt, Casselton, Fargo and Bismarck, and is currently academic dean at Rasmussen College in Bismarck. He lives in Mandan with his wife Marnie and sons Owen, Wyatt and Ryder.
Although best-known as a personal columnist, tammy swift found this short biography harder to write than the average assignment. She is a Glen Ullin, N.D., native who covertly read Erma Bombeck essays during seventh-grade English class. She grew up to be a word nerd/underachiever/NDSU graduate who spent her spare time interning at The Forum and telling people to take their feet off the seats at NDSU's Festival Concert Hall. She worked at various newspapers (well, technically, two) for (mumble, mumble) years and also worked in the "civilian" sector - including NDSU's own Publications Services department. Then, because she does nothing the easy way, she took a sharp right in her mid-40s and decided to become a social media marketing director at Kilbourne Group, a downtown Fargo revitalization group. She still has spare time, which she fills with friends, baking, reading, writing freelance columns for The Forum, watching old movies and lavishing ridiculous amounts of love on her dog, Kita.
dave nilles is a 2004 NDSU graduate and now a senior staff writer in University Relations at NDSU. His first published work was an ode to the best Christmas present ever: a talking car like the one on the 1980s TV show "Knight Rider." He's since gone on to write about more serious - and perhaps more meaningful - topics such as the environmental impact of fuel ethanol and developments in wheat genome research. He worked for a magazine publisher in Grand Forks, N.D., owned a magazine publishing company in Fargo and did a variety of freelance writing and editing. When he is not gardening, brewing beer or sitting on a boat and not catching fish, he reads what his wife, Steph, terms "boring books," also commonly known as nonfiction.
barry batcheller earned an electrical and electronics engineering degree from NDSU in 1977 and has been involved in the founding of six start-up companies, including Phoenix International, Appareo Systems and Intelligent Agriculture Solutions. He holds more than 20 U.S. patents on controls, instrumentation and embedded mobile electronic devices, and has written numerous technical papers on the use of electronics in agriculture. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from NDSU in 2010. His essay for this issue was adapted from a speech he gave as part of NDSU's Great Plains Land-Grant Summit, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which created land grants like NDSU.