Discussions regarding the formation of a College Alumni Association, which would be separate from the general UW-RF Alumni Association, began in October 1981 when an Issue Paper was drafted and presented to the College of Agriculture Advisory Council requesting a response to the following: “Should the College of Agriculture, University of Wisconsin-River Falls form an Agricultural Alumni Association?” The Advisory Council strongly endorsed the concept and passed a motion of recommendation. During the months that followed, Gary Rohde and Roger Swanson held several regional meetings in Wisconsin to meet with college alumni to discuss development of the association.
Acting President Ken Wallin called the initial meeting of the Agricultural Alumni Association to order on September 24, 1983. An ad hoc committee, consisting of Ken Wallin, Anne Johnson, Gerald Palesh, Richard Jensen and Gary Rohde, did much of the work in preparation for this organizational meeting, in which the Association by-laws were passed, a Board of Directors elected, and the topic of alumni dues and future projects were discussed.
The President of the first Board of Directors was Bill Sazma; the Vice President was Anne Johnson; and the Secretary-Treasurer was Dave Klinefelter. Board members included Carol Cox, Gerhard Bohn, Mary Nielson, Ken Wallin, Richard Jensen and Jerry Palesh. The Annual dues were set at $5.00 and the first two projects approved by the Board were the initiation of an Ag Alumni Association Scholarship fund and sponsorship of a senior recognition breakfast to held for the first time on May 1, 1984. Tom Goerke was elected as the Board’s first Executive Secretary.
Initially the events organized and sponsored by the Alumni Association included the Senior Recognition Breakfast, regional meetings to garner interest in the association, and alumni tours to California and Louisiana. Later on alumni receptions coinciding with World Dairy Expo, Farm and Farm Technology Days were added, and in 2003, a reception associated with the Wisconsin Fertilizer and Chemical Association Conference was begun. Other attempts to connect with certain segments of the college’s alumni included a Twin Cities Luncheon begun in 2005 and a Wausau area reception in 2008.
Notable changes since its inception include the creation of a Lifetime Membership Fund in 1985. This fund is currently referred to as the Premier Membership Fund and had a balance in excess of $40,000 in 2008. As of October 2003 annual membership dues were eliminated and all alumni of the College are considered members of the Association. As such all alumni with valid mailing and email addresses receive each issue of the FencePost newsletter (1x a year) and the Fenceline email newsletter (2x a year).