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Where Are They Now?

Tuesday, October 26, 2021
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        Ryan Humann is a farm kid at heart. He grew up on a farm in south central North Dakota where his family still farms.  Ryan gets home to Hazelton as often as possible to help.
Ryan Humann in field
Ryan Humann in field.

        Sunflower has been a big part of the Humann operation since the early 1980s, before Ryan was even born.  The crop has always been a part of his life, growing up and now professionally.
        Humann received the Curtis Stern Memorial Scholarship in 2013.  This scholarship was established in 2005, with the first scholarship awarded in 2006.  The scholarship is a tribute to Stern, who was at the forefront of the sunflower industry for decades.  He served on the NSA Board of Directors and was part of a committee of five that first explored the feasibility of developing mid-oleic sunflower, now known as NuSun®.
        Applicants studying agriculture, with emphasis on those interested in sunflower production, promotion or research, are given preference in the selection process. But the scholarship isn’t awarded every year. It is only given when the scholarship committee feels there is a qualified applicant, which made receiving the scholarship such an honor to Humann.
        Humann earned his Bachelor of Science in crop and weed science at North Dakota State University.  He started working with NDSU plant pathologist Sam Markell while finishing his undergrad work.  Markell immediately put Humann on sunflower work.
        “It was a good fit,” Humann recalls.
        So, when Markell presented the Curtis Stern Memorial Scholarship application to Humann, he knew he had to apply.
“Every little bit helps when it comes to paying for college,” he says. “This scholarship was tremendously important to my education.”
Ryan Humann
Ryan Humann
        Humann earned his Ph.D. in plant pathology from NDSU in 2016.  His first job out of grad school was with Syngenta in California.  He worked there for five years, specializing in cool-season vegetable and fruit crops on the West Coast.  but even then, he couldn’t stay away from sunflower.
        “It was fantastic that I still got to work with sunflower while I was in California,” he affirms. “I have worked with sunflower every season since I was a kid.  I even have sunflower trials in the ground this year.”
        Now, Humann is located closer to home, working as the crop protection R&D field scientist for Corteva Agriscience.  He manages research in North and South Dakota and in the Red River Valley of Minnesota.  Humann develops new crop protection chemicals for growers.
        He likewise reiterates that sunflower has always been and, hopefully, will always be a part of his work.
        “Sunflower and the National Sunflower Association have that ‘small town feel’ that I like.  It’s why I love North Dakota and why I love the industry,” Humann says.  “The NSA is a fun group to be a part of, and they do some important work.  The Curtis Stern Memorial Scholarship is just one way they’re working to make sure research continues.  I am proud to have received the scholarship and to have worked with the NSA.”
          Applications for the 2022 Curtis Stern Memorial Scholarship will open January 1 and be accepted until April 1, 2022.  For more details, visit — Jody Kerzman
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