Spudman 7: Duane Preston
Duane Preston, better know as “Sarge,” is a Professor Emeritus and retired Extension educator for potatoes with the University of Minnesota. Sarge retired from the University in June 2007 after a 42-year career.
He was the Extension agent for potatoes for North Dakota and Minnesota with a joint appointment with University of Minnesota and North Dakota State University extension service for 30 years. He has traveled worldwide presented talks and papers in Canada, Europe, Ukraine, Japan, South Africa, Australia, Italy, Spain and several countries in South America.
He was the president of the Potato Association of America and received the prestigious award – “Potato Man for all Seasons” from the National Potato Council and has received numerous other awards from industry, national and international organizations. He has written over 300 articles for books, magazines and reviewed professional publications.
Duane and his wife Kay have been married 44 years and have three children and four grandchildren. He enjoys golfing, fishing, woodworking and dancing.
What are the best words of advice you’ve received?
When created, we were given two eyes, two ears and one mouth – so listen and look twice before speaking once.
What are your goals for the next year?
Being retired, goals don’t have to be met, but I still serve as advisor on potato topics for different contacts.
What do you do to relax?
I like to play golf, woodworking, riding motorcycle and going to grandchilden’s activities, and things for my good wife of over 40 years.
What would you like to be your lasting legacy?
I had the priviliage to serve with the Minnesota and North Dakota Extension service for over 30 years, providing information for the potato industry, nationally and internationally. I cooperated with several researchers, trying to put the research findings into production successes. I used to say my goals were to fill bins, not books.
What are the top three things on your bucket list/must do list?
1. stay connected with the potato industry, 2. do more community volunteer projects and 3. enjoy every moment remaining.
What kind of work would you have done if you had not worked in the Minnesota and North Dakota Extension programs?
If I had not had such a great career with the Extension service, I think I would have pursued a career in agricultural sales and service industry. I always enjoyed working with people and educational learning experiences and demonstrations,
What is one truth you’ve learned about the potato industry?
I think the only thing certain is the uncertainity. I think the biggest changes I experienced was going from the mechanical phases of production to the computer phases. I mean, with computer precison in storage ventilation and humidification, refrigeration, etc., GPS guidence systems for field applications, planting, fertility,crop protection applications, machinery size and scale.