Spring 2012

Working Life

Travis Balinas BS’09 MS’10 Life Sciences Communication

Balinas works as an inbound marketing manager for Zenoss, a start-up company that makes commercial open source software for managing IT infrastructures, whether they are accessed online (i.e. “cloud-based”) or on local servers. Balinas is responsible for cultivating a specific image, direction and voice through all major social media channels—a great fit, considering that he had created his own master’s degree emphasis on social media and public opinion. “Understanding how large crowds form opinions plays a major role in my duties,” he says.

Kajsa Dalrymple PhD’11 Life Sciences Communication

Freshly minted PhD Dalrymple is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa, where she also is a faculty associate of the university’s Water Sustainability Initiative. As part of a new plan to prevent flooding in the Iowa–Cedar Rivers Basin, Dalrymple is researching public concerns and individual attitudes toward flooding. “This will help shape the group’s communication and education initiatives to encourage preventive behaviors and overall watershed awareness,” says Dalrymple.

Dennis Dimick MS’74 Agricultural Journalism

As executive editor for the environment at National Geographic magazine, Dimick has a job that thousands of aspiring journalists dream of. His favorite part, he says, is coming up with story ideas—exploring new scientific developments and discoveries that can produce interesting stories. When asked how he chose his field, Dimick says, “Perhaps it chose me. I grew up on a sheep and hay farm in Oregon, my parents were biologists, my grandfather was a doctor who loved photography. All of these influences are combined in what I do today as a journalist who works on environmental issues, trying to make them relevant and animated through visual storytelling.” Dimick, who last year received a WAA Distinguished Alumni Award, remembers his time at CALS as “very empowering.” “It showed me I could rely on my own instincts and initiative to do anything I wanted, if only I set a goal and went after it,” he says.

Patrisia Gonzales MS’05 PhD’07 Life Sciences Communication

As a professor of Mexican American and American Indian studies at the University of Arizona, Gonzales specializes in indigenous medicines. “Indigenous medicines are healing systems that tell us much about how knowledge is maintained, constructed, preserved and asserted by indigenous peoples,” says Gonzales, who is of Mexican American, Nahua, Kickapoo and Comanche heritage. Gonzales has worked as a traditional herbalist and birth attendant alongside making her name as a scholar, documentary producer and columnist, including writing the “Column of the Americas” with Roberto Rodriguez MS’05 Life Sciences Communication. Her books include The Mud People (Chusma, 2003) and the forthcoming Red Medicine: Traditional Indigenous Rites of Birthing and Healing (University of Arizona Press, 2012).

Staci Griesbach BS’00 Life Sciences Communication

“I’m not going to lie—it is fun to work with celebrities and filmmakers each and every day,” says Griesbach, vice president of worldwide publicity for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Griesbach joined Sony in 2005 and has executed home entertainment campaigns for movies and TV shows including The Social Network, Spider-Man, Julie & Julia, Seinfeld and The Smurfs. Despite her dizzying climb, Griesbach remains a down-to-earth young woman from Hortonville. “People often ask me, ‘How did you go from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles?’” Griesbach says. “I usually laugh and say I was told I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Turns out, I think that’s true.”

Gale Kirking BS’87 Agricultural Journalism

Kirking was raised on a family farm near Lodi and in the 1980s was a reporter for Agri-View. But for the past 20 years he has lived in Europe and now owns English Editorial Services, a firm based in the Czech Republic offering communication expertise in finance and the life sciences. Previously, Kirking had a career in stock brokerage and investment banking and also wrote a book, Untangling Bosnia and Hercegovina. Kirking is about to launch a consulting division to help American companies develop their businesses in Central Europe.

Robert Manwell BS’73 Forest Science, MS’95 Agricultural Journalism

Manwell has always been passionate about the environment—so when he was appointed deputy spokesperson at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, he pretty much landed his dream job. Any day might find him producing video and audio about Wisconsin’s precious resources, writing news releases or working to get reporters information on deadline. Manwell continues to serve the DNR as a senior public affairs manager.

Jodi Minzlaff MS’07 Family and Consumer Journalism

Minzlaff is a business development manager with American Express in London, where she leads initiatives to acquire and retain customers throughout much of Europe. She works daily with colleagues in Germany, France, Italy and other countries. “It’s a culturally diverse environment, and I enjoy developing strategic opportunities and marketing/communication messages tailored for each audience,” she says. While at CALS Minzlaff had worked as a marketing communications research assistant in the department of life sciences communication, where she helped develop and implement a new department brand. That experience has served her well at Amex, she says.

Susan Orth BS’06 Animal Sciences, Life Sciences Communication

Orth wears many hats as a sales specialist for the World Dairy Expo, North America’s 23rd largest trade show: “I work with the trade show, project management and customer service. We also manage the Dane County Fair.” Orth’s animal sciences/life sciences communication degrees naturally led her to the Expo, she says. Orth stays involved with CALS as a board member of the Association of Women in Agriculture and as an advisor for the Badger Dairy Club.

Andrew Peterson BS’08 Life Sciences Communication, Animal Sciences

Growing up on Peterson Limousin Farms, his family’s operation near Osceola, Peterson was raised with a passion for Limousin beef cattle, a muscled breed that gets the fancy name from its place of origin in France. That he’d somehow work with these cattle seemed a matter of destiny, but that he’d work with them online is due to the excitement he felt on taking his first web communication class at CALS. Peterson is the founder of LIVEstock New Media Communications, home of, a website serving Limousin cattle breeders and commercial ranchers. “I love the cattle industry and the diversity and creative freedom each day brings,” Peterson says.

Marcus Steed BS’10 Life Sciences Communication

How do you land a great job upon graduation? One way is to do fabulous work as an intern. “Marcus made important contributions to our online service while he was a student intern and comes to us with terrific qualifications,” said Wisconsin Public Television director James Steinbach when he hired Steed last summer. As WPT’s online editor, Steed reviews, edits and produces content for the organization’s website and social media platforms. “I look forward to continuing to grow here,” says Steed.

Sheri (Nelson) Sutton BS’09 Life Sciences Communication

Sutton has a big job serving as director of communications for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. But she also puts her passion into WaterDrops of Hope, a nonprofit she founded to increase access to clean water in Africa. The organization sells reusable water bottles and uses proceeds to build wells where people struggle to find water for drinking and washing. “I wanted to provide a way for people here to feel like they are part of a movement to help people halfway across the world,” she says. Sutton credits her LSC program for giving her the necessary website, PR and marketing skills to start her own nonprofit.

About the Dozen

These 12 alumni represent the depth and breadth of CALS graduates’ accomplishments. Selections for the list are made by the Grow staff and are intended to reflect a sample of alumni stories. It is not a ranking or a comprehensive list. To read more about CALS alumni, go to

Know a CALS grad whose work should be highlighted in Grow? Email us at

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