Family: Wife Holly, daughter Katie Hennenfent with grandson Micah, daughter Stefanie and her husband George Maska with grandsons Gage and Cord

Education: A.S. Carl Sandburg College, Bachelors of Science from Western Illinois University

Community Organizations: Carl Sandburg College Foundation, Knox County Farm Bureau, Galesburg Area Ag Boosters, Knox County Farm Safety Day, Western Illinois University Ag Alumni Board.

Awards: Galesburg FFA Honorary Chapter Farmer, Independent Professional Seed Association President Award

Current Employer:  Munson Hybrids And SoDak Seed Laboratory


John reflects on his time at Sandburg and how it impacted his collegiate career and beyond:

My time at Carl Sandburg College was a great time in my life.  I was able to meet new people and experience a different learning experience.  At that time there was little technology in learning as computers were just beginning to be used and most computer classes were programming classes.  This meant that the learning experience was focused on the quality of the instructors.  All of the instructors were outstanding. The education I received readied me to attend WIU and continue on with my education. In the fall of my freshman year, my dad was injured in an accident so I dropped out of the winter session to stay home and help with the farm work.  The instructors and administration were very supportive and helped me make the transition back into the college. This kept me on my path to my goal of continuing my education and getting my degree.


John shares his favorite memory of Sandburg with the professor who made the biggest impact in his career:

At the time there were pool tables in the area across from the cafeteria.  We had a two hour Ag Class with Ted Mottaz.  We had a break after the first hour and he had a habit of running past our break and we would have to "remind" him it was break. We would go down and get a game or two of pool in and then he would have to "remind" us that break was over. We had a lot of fun in the Ag classes and also learned a lot in those classes.


Many alumni feel Sandburg provided them with a sense of independence and community:

I just loved the feeling of community at Sandburg. I loved that there were people from all walks of life in some of my classes that I could learn from. Sandburg was big enough that I felt like an independent college student but not too big that I got lost and overwhelmed.


John has been able to stay close with the Sandburg community after leaving the institution:

I have had the pleasure to be in the Galesburg area nearly my entire working career.  Over those years in the seed business, I was able to work with Ted Mottaz on the Ag plots that the college had at the time.  After the Ag program was ended I was able to rent the college land and raised crops on them to benefit local agriculture groups and students.  I have also had the pleasure to serve on the Foundation Board.


July is Salute to Ag month at Sandburg. When asked what advice he would give current students who are considering a career in agriculture, John looks to innovation for the future:

"Back in the day" agriculture was all about sows, cows and plows.  Today the science and technology that is used in agriculture continue to explode.  Agriculture needs well-rounded students that have the basic knowledge of sows, cows and plows but the computer math and science skills will also be needed. Careers in agriculture will need to be filled with individuals that didn't grow up on the farm.  Find the part of agriculture that you have a passion for and follow that path.