Kathy Yerich Receives the 2022 Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award

Knighton Award winners from the MMS: John Lamprecht, Kathy Yerich, and Ron Spinosa
MMS Knighton Winners  John Lamprecht – 2019   Kathy Yerich – 2022   Ron Spinosa – 2011

At the most recent NAMA Annual Foray held in Potosi, MO, it was announced that Kathy Yerich, our Vice-President and programming chairperson, was selected by her peers (previous winners of the NAMA award) to receive the Knighton Award for service to her local club…that’s us! As an affiliated club, we actively participate and have a strong presence in NAMA. Please read, enjoy and join in congratulating her.

The Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award has been established by the North American Mycological Association Board of Trustees to recognize and encourage individuals who have distinguished themselves in service to their local clubs. It is named for the Knightons, whose efforts began the North American Mycological Association in 1967. This year we had five nominees from across the country, and the winner was selected from that list by the past 12 award winners. The winner is Kathy Yerich.

Ron Spinosa wrote of Kathy, this year’s winner from the Minnesota Mycological Society, about her tireless energy in service to the MMS and Minnesota/Wisconsin region.

Here is Ron Spinosa’s Nominating Letter Honoring Kathy

On behalf of the Minnesota Mycological Society, I am nominating Kathy Yerich for The Harry and Elsie Knighton Award for her outstanding service to the Minnesota Mycological Society and to the mycological community at large.

Kathy is a woman with an effervescent personality. She sparkles with creativity and has a kind, generous heart. These qualities, along with her many talents, have made her a precious asset to our society throughout her membership spanning over 15 years. During that time, she has served on the MMS board in a number of capacities:

  • Recording Secretary
  • Vice president – current position
  • Chair of Programming – current position

For many years Kathy served MMS by the labeling, stamping, and printing of the MMS newsletter, The Toadstool Review.

As Programming Chair, Kathy has arranged cooking demos with locally and nationally known Chefs, including Allan Bergo and Zachary Mazi. She also planned fascinating presentations by Dr. Peter Kennedy, Dr. Patrick Leacock (on fungal sex), and a pioneering Black Périgord Truffle farmer, Jasmine Richardson. MMS eagerly anticipated a presentation by Michael Kuo, well known for his Mushroom Expert website, but sadly had to cancel due to Covid. (Kathy recruited Britt Bunyard, last year’s Gary Lincoff award winner, to fill the vacant speaker position.)

Kathy has also volunteered her time and talents to the North American Mycological Association, where she was a past Vice President and the current Chair of the NAMA Marketing Committee. She acted as producer of the delightful NAMA promotional video, which was distributed to mycological societies throughout the nation to encourage membership in NAMA.

During the Covid pandemic, thanks to Kathy’s outreach, MMS hosted a zoom meeting featuring Trent and Kristen Blizzard of the popular blog Modern Forager to do an exciting mushroom cooking and preservation demo. Kathy’s friendship with Trent and Kristen led them to join NAMA. As a result, NAMA has a new president. His name is Trent Blizzard!

Kathy Is a popular presenter on mushroom-related topics in the Twin Cities area and nationally. Here are some examples:

  • Kathy was Chief forager and mycologist for the Women’s Wellness Weekend at the Audubon Center of the Northwoods.
  • She was chief forager and mycologist for Chef Camp, a woodland food retreat in Northeast Minnesota, where top local chefs congregate to prepare delectable dishes for fervent mycophagists.
  • She was featured in Daniel Klein’s award-winning food video series The Perennial Palate and in Bizarre Foods, hosted by Andrew Zimmern.
  • She teamed up with Chef Beth Jones of the University of Minnesota Campus Club to sponsor a unique event, the Minnesota Mycology: Small Plate Soirée. Participants were taken on a mushroom foray, led by Kathy, to forage for wild edible Mushrooms, which was later transformed into a gourmet dinner by Beth.

At some MMS events, a silent auction is held to raise funds for our club’s scholarship awards for the University of Minnesota’s graduate student research. Because of Covid, the MMS silent auction was done online. Kathy was a key organizer for that event, which was a resounding success.

Kathy is best known as the co-author of the field guide, Mushrooms of the Upper Midwest. Minnesotans have waited a long time for a field guide that includes our state’s mushrooms. That book is a big seller, now in its second edition. Many of the stunning mushroom photos in the guide were shot by Kathy, who also happens to be an accomplished photographer.

Besides Kathy’s passion for mushrooms, she is also an avid quilter. These interests came together when she initiated The Marek Turowski Memorial Scholarship. Marek was a beloved member of MMS who passed away in recent years. This is a scholarship awarded to an MMS member to attend the annual NAMA national foray. To raise funds for the scholarship, Kathy created a lovely mushroom-themed quilt that was put up for auction at a NAMA Foray.

Kathy’s creativity knows no bounds! She was one of the first MMS members to explore the art of dying with mushrooms, which she has enthusiastically shared with other members. She shows no indication she will slow down in sharing her vast talents.

When you next see Kathy, please congratulate her and do not hesitate to nominate someone who has had a major impact on your experience with the MMS.

Sincerely submitted, John Lamprecht, NAMA Awards Chairperson,
MMS Finance and Membership Chairperson