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Judy Zomerfelt, Executive Administrative Specialist, Retires

Judy Zomerfelt

Judy Zomerfelt

Not many people can say that after over 39 years they still love their job and coming to work. But I can! That is what has made my decision to retire so difficult.

Dale Baker, the program leader and first staff member of the Minnesota Marine Advisory Service, started at the University of Minnesota Duluth on January 2, 1975. His first job was to hire a secretary which turned out to be me.

On February 17, 1975, I sat down at my desk, an old typewriter in front of me and a telephone to the side. The job quickly picked up speed after we started hiring educators, who seemed to like to fill the office aquarium with everything from turtles to sea lamprey and crayfish. Many times I would come into the office to find the crayfish had escaped and fell over the railings down to the basement. The lampreys were also able to get out, but they were easily recaptured.

I've been around for all of the important events, including 1977 when we became a bona fide Sea Grant Program and funded four fisheries research projects. Then, in 1980 I held the first annual Sea Grant penmanship contest because it was almost impossible to read the staff's writing. In 1985 we were awarded College Status, which is an honor among the Sea Grant Programs. Back in those days we worked with commercial fisherman to try to make minced sucker a bestseller. To support the project, every staff member was required to take a pound or two of minced sucker, make something with it and bring it to a party. I've never eaten so many variations on a sucker theme. I doubt you have either. Several years later we did a taste test with several sea lamprey dishes GROSS!!! I prefer sucker.

Minnesota Sea Grant staff and I are not only co-workers but we're also a family. Working here for 39 years and 4 months has been a lot of fun and I remain close to many who have left, including a bevy of student workers. I have taken pride in my work and have witnessed how truly dedicated my co-workers are to the Sea Grant mission. Minnesota Sea Grant is a successful program and, given my experience, I have no doubt that it will remain so. Together I feel that we have done an exceptional job.

I was often told that I made coming to work fun for my co-workers. That is how it should be if you don't enjoy your job you don't belong there. It is all about attitude. I have learned over the years if you are friendly to others they will be friendly back.

I will be spending some quality time with my nephews in East Grand Forks and continuing to support their hockey careers. I am truly going to miss the people and the job, too! Retirement will be a challenging transition, but I am looking forward to it.

I want to thank all of the administration within Sea Grant and the University of Minnesota and the support staff in the many departments that I have worked closely with over the years. I have met so many special people. I feel that I have been respected at Sea Grant and around the University community, and I value that.

Fondly,
JZ


By Judy Zomerfelt
July 2014

Return to July 2014 Seiche



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