FARGO, North Dakota — Eddie Bernhardson, past Harvest Bowl chair and retired University of Minnesota Extension agent in Clay County, received the 2021 Agribusiness Award on Nov. 19 during North Dakota State University’s 47th annual Harvest Bowl program.
This award recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of agriculture and business in North Dakota and beyond.
Bernhardson was born in 1928 in Comstock, Minnesota, and grew up on his family’s farm. After graduating from high school in 1945, Bernhardson was awarded a scholarship to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, but only attended one year.
Bernhandson says that education was an important value instilled in him, but he didn’t recognize its full value until he was drafted by the Army in 1952. After returning from Korea in 1954, he married his wife Barbara in 1955, and then enrolled at NDSU to study animal science and agriculture education.
While attending NDSU, Bernhardson continued working on the family farm and joined the NDSU Livestock Judging Team, competing at contests throughout the Midwest, including the Denver, Kansas City and Chicago contests.
In 1962, Bernhardson and his brothers took over the family farm, but the first year was tough and extremely wet. Fortunately, they had dairy, so the farm survived. That difficult season led Bernhardson to the University of Minnesota Extension where he was hired as an associate county agent.
Bernhardson went on to become the Clay County Extension director and enjoy a 30-year career with Extension in the state of Minnesota, often working closely with colleagues from NDSU Extension. Bernhardson returned to NDSU to earn his master’s degree in agronomy, graduating in 1976.
“Eddie has a very deep-rooted believe in the Extension system and what it was established for — helping people, being of service, listening to people, gathering information and trying to provide good educational answers,” says Sharon Anderson, former NDSU Extension director. “Many of our NDSU Extension specialists would cross the river to work with Eddie because he had concerns for producers or families, and he would truly want to know how he could help. That’s the whole belief system of Extension.”
Bernhardson’s enduring connection to NDSU eventually led him to become involved with Harvest Bowl. During his time as Harvest Bowl Chair, he named both a sponsorship and agribusiness award committee, and is credited with elevating the event and building a model awards program that celebrates agriculture in the region.
“Eddie stands out for his life of commitment to agriculture, the betterment of people and the betterment of NDSU,” says Brent Montgomery, Harvest Bowl committee member and former president of First State Bank in Arthur, North Dakota. “His goal through all this has been to get the word out, become more knowledgeable in agriculture and watch everything around him succeed.”
Outstanding agriculturists from 53 counties in North Dakota and 10 counties in western Minnesota also were honored during the Harvest Bowl program, and scholarships were awarded to outstanding male and female NDSU athletes.
The 47th annual Harvest Bowl festivities were held Nov. 19 and 20, which included the Harvest Bowl football game between NDSU and the University of South Dakota.