SDSU Family of the Year awarded to Bergs

Kristen Smith, Reporter

The three-generation Berg family, originally from Pipestone, Minnesota, has been happy to make South Dakota State University a second home over the course of 60 years.

The family’s dedication to the school was rewarded Feb. 19 when it was recognized as SDSU’s Family of the Year at the men’s basketball game against St. Thomas. This award is given by the SDSU Alumni Association. After the announcement during the basketball game, the family was the guest of honor at a luncheon the following day with SDSU President Barry Dunn.

The Berg family roots branch out to eight academic majors: ag education, ag journalism, animal science, dairy manufacturing, economics, microbiology and biotechnology, electrical engineering and nursing.

There were several criteria considered when choosing the family of the year, including involvement in organized on-campus activities while attending SDSU, involvement with SDSU as alum, contributions to the university in the forms of time, talent and treasure, lineage that attended SDSU and overall positive impact made on SDSU.

When it comes to the Berg family, they check each one of those boxes.

It all started when Marlin Berg got his master’s in agricultural education and started his career as a vocational agriculture instructor in 1966. He and his wife Donna are strong supporters of SDSU and had their four kids—Barbara, Philip, Daniel and Daryl. They all graduated from SDSU as well.

Marlin and Donna’s family can be spotted on the sidelines of SDSU’s Little International each spring, as they have always been supportive of the organization and the show itself. Samantha Berg Koep, Evan Koep, Ph.D. and Andrew Berg all have returned at one point or another to support Little International in varying capacities.

Daniel and Daryl met their spouses at SDSU, while seven of Marlin and Donna’s grandchildren have attended or are currently attending SDSU. Marlin’s granddaughter even helped develop Barry Berry ice cream during her undergraduate career in dairy manufacturing.

Before Marlin retired, he was the vocational agriculture teacher and FFA adviser in Pipestone. Marlin estimates that in over 30 years of teaching, more than 70 of his vo-ag students went on to attend SDSU, an accomplishment he is proud of and considers one his greatest rewards.

Members of the Berg family continue to return to SDSU in a variety of volunteer roles. Philip follows in his father’s footsteps and regularly brings 4-H and FFA judging team to campus to participate in regional livestock and meat judging contest. Philip also served as a volunteer mentor to students participating in the first annual graduate student communication conference sponsored by the SDSU Animal Science Department during fall 2020.

One Berg family member making a big impact on the SDSU campus is Lora Berg, the director of Marketing and Communications for CAFES, South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and SDSU Extension. Lora has been a part of SDSU for seven years.

 Not only does Lora enjoy the part she plays within her job in CAFES, but she loves the part she plays in the volunteer portion across campus. She is the adviser for the Sigma Alpha sorority, Little International and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow.

“I work with an amazing team that is super energizing,” Berg said. “I just had these astounding sets of crazy experiences to share with people through those different advisor roles and hope people can learn from those experiences I went through.”

Lora enjoys being involved within SDSU Extension because her mother worked for SDSU Extension for 38 years.