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Sharon AndersonSharon Anderson
2018 Agribusiness Award

Dr. Sharon Anderson was raised on a family farm near Kindred in rural Richland County. Her first experience with the land grant system was when she joined 4-H at the age of 8. Her 10-year 4-H experience culminated in 1963 when she attended National 4-H Congress and was the featured oboe soloist with Arthur Fiedler and the Chicago Symphony.

Sharon received her BS and MS degrees from NDSU and her PhD in higher education administration from the University of North Dakota. While attending NDSU, Sharon was active in the Gold Star Band, Mortar Board Honor Society, the Kappa Delta Sorority and several other organizations. She and her husband, Mick, spent their first two years out of college teaching in Mohall in Renville County.

Sharon joined the NDSU Extension Service in 1970 as the home furnishings specialist. She then became a state 4-HsSpecialist and served in that role for 11 years. During that time, Sharon led statewide programs in family living, leadership development and career education. The National Association of 4-H Agents recognized Sharon’s outstanding work by presenting her with the Meritorious and Distinguished Service awards. In 1984, Sharon became the NDSU Extension Service’s first female district director, serving eastern North Dakota counties. In that role, she provided leadership for county staff, their programs and budgets. She also built strong partnerships with county commissioners and the North Dakota Association of Counties.

In 1995, Sharon was named Director of the NDSU Extension Service—again the first female in this leadership position. She provided statewide leadership for all programs, staffing, legislative relations and budgets. While leading the Extension Service, Sharon helped develop and implement the State Board of Agriculture Research and Education. During her tenure, staffing at research extension centers grew, the Rural Leadership Program was established, grant funding increased significantly and the Extension Service adopted new technologies that expanded agricultural education opportunities across the state. While director, Sharon served on the National 4-H Board of Trustees, the organization that garners private funding for 4-H. Sharon was elected by her peers to the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy—the group that provides overall leadership to Cooperative Extension programs, budgets and policy nationally. In 1999, she served as chair of this national group.

Sharon retired from NDSU as professor emeritus in 2003. In 2004 she began a nine- year career with the National 4-H Council in Washington, D.C., where she built partnerships between the Council and the 1862, 1890 and 1994 land-grant institutions. In 2003, Sharon was named the YWCA Woman of the Year in Education. That same year, she was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame. Sharon also received the National 4-H Council’s Gary L. Davis Leadership Award in 2012.

Sharon and Mick enjoy spending time in retirement with their family—son Aaron, his wife Jenny and their two daughters Brynn and Harper. They are active tailgaters and attend most Bison football games. Sharon still enjoys her morning runs, golfing and playing the piano.

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