Four members of the North Dakota State community were honored in January due to their outreach efforts involving a donation of more than 6,500 pounds of beans to the St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Alan Zuk, associate professor of plant sciences at NDSU, was presented with a Lakota Star Quilt by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, a branch of the Lakota Sioux Indian nation. Star Quilts are a significant tradition for Lakota members, signifying respect and honor for the recipient. Emblazoned on the quilt, the Morning Star pattern, serves an important symbolic purpose to the Lakota, representing new beginnings or a new dawn.
Zuk accepted the honor on behalf of the team, which includes Juan Osorno, associate professor and dry bean breeder at NDSU, James Steinberger, 2012 NDSU crop and weed sciences graduate, and Tom Walk, a staff member at NDSU.
Osorno raised and harvested the beans — including navy, pinto, kidney beans and more — as part of his dry edible bean breeding research and donated the beans to Zuk’s project after they were no longer needed for research.
Steinberger, the NDSU alumnus, lives near the Rosebud Indian Reservation and volunteers at the St. Francis Mission Lakota Dental Clinic. He was the person that reached out to St. Francis Mission president Reverend James Kubicki and mission chief operating officer Rodney Bordeaux to coordinate the project.
Bordeaux and Kubicki said the beans will be distributed through Tribal Social Services as an emergency food source and an opportunity for low-income families and individuals. Bordeaux said that with such a large donation, more than 25,000 people in 20 different communities would benefit from it.
After accepting the honor, Zuk said, “The produce and beans are available every year after research is completed, and I am happy to make deliveries to those in need.” Every fall, Zuk will typically deliver 10,000 pounds of dry beans and close to 20,000 pounds of potatoes from research projects.