AFSA K-12 School Board 2021-2022
  • Parent Representatives

    • Gerard Cramer DVM, DVSc, Board Treasurer As someone who has been involved in agriculture for all of my life in a variety of capacities, I feel I have many different points of view I can bring to the AFSA board.  As an AFSA parent, I have 2 children attending the middle school and our oldest will be attending the high school next year. It truly has been inspiring to see my children develop a love for science and learning while having fun at school. I also have a perspective as an educator as I work as an Associate Professor in Dairy Production Medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota.  In this role, I teach veterinary students about food animal veterinary practice with a focus on dairy cattle. I am also a scientist and do research on dairy cow lameness.  Prior to my position at the University of Minnesota, I worked as a veterinarian, plus owned and operated a small dairy farm in Ontario, Canada. I have a passion for agriculture and teaching and I feel that my knowledge and skills will give me an opportunity to provide valuable input to the AFSA board and community from a variety of perspectives within the agricultural industry.


    • Lasha Tilsen - Mother of many, I have four daughters that attend AFSA. I have done foster care for six years and I have seen the different ways public, private, and charter schools operate. I have worked in the Saint Paul public school system for four years in the ECFE program. Currently, I am working at a Montessori school. As a Native American woman who keeps trying daily to help the system include everyone and not leave anyone out, this would be a great opportunity to be able to talk with others and make AFSA a better school than it already is. I love the outdoors, dancing, painting, reading and letting the mind be curious. 


    • Melissa DeGidio - Hello! My name is Melissa DeGidio. I am originally from Fergus Falls, MN, where I grew up in a small town/farm up-bringing. I graduated high school and went on to college at Minnesota State University-Moorhead. I graduated with a B.A. in Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Education.  After college, I moved to the Twin Cities and settled into the MinnState college system as a College Lab Assistant for the Biology, Chemistry, Natural Science, and Health Science departments at Minneapolis College and Saint Paul College. I now work as the Simulation Center manager for Saint Paul College. I am an active union steward for my campus and serve on the Executive Board and Policy Committee for our local.  I love to bike, travel, garden, cook, and read in my spare time. I am a proud parent to a 2nd grader who attends AFSA elementary. I am looking forward to being a part of the school board and serving the school. Thank you!

    Community Representatives

    • Julie Cox - works at General Mills and currently holds the position of ITQ Director – Meals & Baking Organization Unit. Julie has been with General Mills for 19 years and has had worked across ITQ in Management and Product Development. Prior to joining General Mills, Julie worked for Cargill in both Minneapolis and Cedar Rapids, IA. Julie has a M.S. degree in Food Science from Cornell University and a B.S. degree in Food Science from the University of Minnesota. Julie has enjoyed a career full of learning and discovery, to commercialization, working with highly talented Scientists and Engineers, and Business partners and leaders. Julie and her husband Don live in Maple Grove. They enjoy traveling and spending time with family and friends, and time at the lake in Lakeshore, MN on the Gull Lake Chain.


    • David Smith - Board Chair - David Smith is a Professor in the Food Science and Nutrition Department at the University of Minnesota. He works primarily in the area of dairy products and teaches various courses in food science, also, he advises about 100 students in both nutrition and food science majors. He has been on the AFSA School Board for over six years and is currently Board Vice Chair.


    • Kate Plaisance - Kate is the Nutrition Science Director for Cargill Animal Nutrition and Health. She leads a global team of research scientists responsible for the development of laboratory technologies that support new product development, improved ingredient understanding and rapid quality analysis for the internal business and customers. Kate has been with Cargill for 15 years in many R&D roles. Before joining Cargill she worked for the USDA/ARS Plant Science division at the U of M investigating herbicide resistance in weeds. Kate is passionate about promoting Women in STEM, and volunteers her time for U of M CLA Career Services events and as well as supporting scholarship funds.


    Teacher Representatives

    • Kate Bald - Kate Bald is a mathematics teacher here at AFSA.  She has a BA in mathematics and MA in teaching from the University of St. Thomas.  She worked in both banking and computer technology before deciding her true passion was in education.  Joining the AFSA community in 2008, she began work as an educational assistant and organizing after-school tutoring for students. After two years in that role, she began teaching math.   After teaching math at the high school for five years, Kate was excited for a new challenge.  She is currently in her third year teaching math at the middle school. Kate is happy to have had the opportunity to grow with AFSA and looks forward to many more great years here.


    • Katie Crowley - Katie Crowley is an Agricultural Teacher and FFA Advisor at AFSA High School where she has served for 1 year on the school board.  She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and has been with AFSA for the past 7 years.  Katie was raised on a dairy and crop farm in Hugo, Minnesota and is dedicated to promoting agriculture through various roles including serving as a MN FFA State Officer, Princess Kay of the Milky Way, National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador and being a member of the Washington County Farm Bureau.  She continues to strive to provide hands-on learning opportunities for her students and educate herself on the most current agricultural practices by attending conferences and training through the National FFA Organization, the Farm Bureau, the MN and National Association of Agricultural Educators and Briggs and Stratton just to name a few.  Katie is proud to be a member of the AFSA family and would be excited to serve as a member of the school board!