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Dakota County's April featured 4-H alumni

Erick Agrimson

Tell us about yourself
I am an associate professor of physics at Saint Catherine University (SCU) in St. Paul Minnesota.  I teach physics for the health sciences, in the class, we look at medical physics connections to physics principles.  I also teach ultrasound physics on the Minneapolis campus of SCU.  I work with the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium (MNSGC) a NASA outreach educational program.  I conduct research related to the upper levels of the atmosphere. I use high altitude balloons (weather balloons that can reach near space – over 100,000 feet) for one of my research areas. I have been a 4-H adult leader for almost 20 years and was in 4-H for over ten years.

How has 4-H impacted your life?
4-H was a critical influence for me in my career. As a young 4-H’er I learned to love aerospace and science. I still am doing aerospace research to this day- I can’t imagine how much fun I would have had with GPS systems had they been around during my 4-H days. Much of the early work in 4-H was critical for getting me to where I am today. I was not the most organized kid, and through records I was forced to keep track of things and become more organized.  Going through record judging and going to national 4-H club congress in the aerospace project solidified my choice to become a physics major in college. I wanted to learn more about how the world worked and wanted to have connections to flight and rockets.

What is your 4-H history?
Demonstrations and Arts-In were critical for bringing me out of a quiet shell and allowed me to stand up in front of a group of people without being too nervous. I still make use of many of the organizational techniques I used while getting a demonstration together. Don’t forget to wrap things up and summarize a talk, I do that every day in class also!

The other impact related to 4-H was my love for growing potatoes and eating them! When I went off to college I was known as the potato expert.  I would talk about growing potatoes, the different varieties and what they were good for, cooking tips etc. My junior year in college, my roommate suggested I talk with a gal friend of ours about potatoes on a slow Friday night. Well two hours later she finally said she had heard enough about potatoes.   Not long after that she and I were going out, and years later we had varieties of potatoes on our reception tables, at our wedding.  You just never know….

As mentioned before I was involved in the aerospace project, demonstrations, Arts-In and potatoes, but I was also involved in these other projects that I still make use of:  Fishing and Shooting Sports (Have I mentioned I like to eat?), Creative arts (I draw sketches for field work all the time.), Self-Determined (I restored an old motorbike and car maintenance is far less intimidating with knowing how an internal combustion engine works).

What are you doing today?
As part of NASA Space Grant I still do outreach with 4-H groups conducting rocket launches as well as high altitude balloon flights. I judge at a number of county fairs in the aerospace project.
I also spend a fair amount of time taking care of my 21 month old son at home, who is quite a handful!


Anja Koester-Johnson
County 4-H Program Coordinator
(651) 480-7758
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