Former Pelican Rapids ag instructor and FFA director Bill Januszewski was inducted into the state FFA “Hall of Fame.” Appropriately, the presentation was a modest affair—on his garden and farm acreage east of Pelican Rapids, in August.
Joining Januszewski, second from right, for the presentation was former student Daren Tollefson, far left, who was Pelican FFA president in 1991. His daughter Greta Tollefson is current FFA president at Pelican Rapids High School. Far right, Steve Olson, representing the statewide FFA organization.
Agriculture educator and FFA advisor Bill Januszewski with his Pelican Rapids High School students in 1994.
R1: Chris Shulstad, Harlen Seidell, Shane Osborne, Sarah Bergquist, Paul Rotz, Teresa Oien, Liz Rotz, Greg Seim, Virgil Rotz, Shawn Erickson
R2: Mr. Januszewski, Matt Nelson, Jennifer Bakken, Justin McGrand, Jeff Boese, Stephanie Rotz, Sherrise Johnson, Emily Waller, Jessica Rotz, Jeff Peterson, Mike Fitzgerald, Brian Stuvland
R3: Jason Kroshus, Adam Hohman, Jason Fahje, Gary Berg, Lee Van Cleef, Sarah Arvidson, Eric Nelson, Amber Neuleib, Andy Sorum, Trent Harthun, Nick Teaberg, Luke Nellermoe.
Photo by Cy Trygstad

Bill Januszewski taught ag, directed FFA in Pelican for 25 years 

By Louis Hoglund 

There’s not much fanfare and hoopla when you earn a special honor—in the COVID-19 era of 2020. 

Even a Hall of Fame induction becomes a modest affair. In the case of longtime Pelican Rapids educator Bill Januszewski, his “acceptance speech” had an audience of about four; just west of a swamp, and a few paces east of a pumpkin patch.

The FFA Hall of Fame plaque, presented to Bill Januszewski.

In the absence of a formal ceremony or banquet, because of the pandemic, statewide FFA representative Steve Olson finally tracked down former agriculture instructor Januszewski at his rural home north east of Pelican Rapids. 

The plaque honors Januszewski as a new member of the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame. 

About two generations of Pelican students will remember Januszewski. In fact, one of his students was in the “audience” for the presentation. Daren Tolleson, who was president of the Pelican FFA chapter in 1991, represented the Pelican schools. Joining the presentation was his daughter, Greta, a PRHS senior who is the current Pelican FFA president. 

After teaching agriculture for 25 years at Pelican Rapids High School, until 2008, Januszewski went on to teach ag-related classes at Alexandria technical college. He currently teaches Farm Business Management through Northland Community and Technical College, but he is fortunate to be able to work mostly out of his home in the Pelican area.

The home and property is known by Pelican oldtimers as the Axel Johnson place, who passed it on to son Wes Johnson in about 1928.

A Perham area native and farmboy near the Pine Lake chain east of Perham, Januszewski was an NDSU graduate, and spent nearly a full career in Pelican. Classmates will remember the Januszewski kids, Angie, who graduated in 2001; Amy, 2003, and Eric, a 2006 grad. Wife Judy (Bay), from New York Mills area, died in 2012. Januszewski remarried four years ago, to Tammy (Bartel) a Frazee area native. 

Throughout the years, Januszewski’s goal with his students has always been “to instill personal responsibility.” 

It has been extremely rewarding for him to see some of his FFA students as successful local businessmen and women, or even some of his high school students now, as he advises them in Farm Business Management. Both in and out of agricultural education, Bill believes in leading by example. 

Januszewski has been an inspiration for the guy who replaced him, back in 2008­–Lee Larson, Pelican’s current FFA advisor. 

“Bill was always one of those guys who was willing to help new teachers out…I got to know him as a mentor,” said Larson. “He knows everybody, and nobody has ever said a bad word about Bill.” 

A past president of the agricultural educators group, Januszewski has been an influence on the FFA at the local, state and national levels, noted Larson. 

Bill has been involved in Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever for over 30 years. 

State FFA Hall of Fame dates to 2004 

FFA is a national youth organization that makes a positive difference in the lives of young people by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success of its 700,107 student members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture.

Nearly 11,000 students are members of the Minnesota FFA Association.