The Hormel Institute Named Industry Partner of the Year

AUSTIN, Minn. –  The Hormel Institute has been named “Industry Partner of the Year” by Southeast Service Cooperative and Southeast Minnesota Workforce Development Inc. This award recognizes Southeast Minnesota partners that demonstrate a commitment to promoting K-12 learning about careers and technical skills, along with supporting and collaborating with local school districts to offer educational opportunities.

The Hormel Institute was nominated by IJ Holton Intermediate School and Ellis Middle School Principal Dewey Schara for the Institute’s efforts to promote Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education in the Austin school district.

“We are so grateful and excited about the many opportunities provided to our students through our partnership with The Hormel Institute. We feel so fortunate to work, live, and learn in a community that makes opportunities like this accessible to our students,” said Schara.

This honor comes two years after The Hormel Institute established its Community Outreach and Education (COE) department. The COE department was formed to help The Hormel Institute fulfill its mission to conduct research and provide education in the biological sciences with applications in medicine and agriculture.

The COE department focuses on three pillars: Education, prevention, and wellness outreach. The mission of the COE department is to develop a comprehensive education and training program for all ages and promote and participate in community-driven initiatives that help increase community engagement.

To spearhead this mission, Kelly Vincelette joined The Hormel Institute in 2021 as the Community Outreach and Education Manager. Vincelette has nearly two decades of experience with developing and implementing K-12 educational programs. Before coming to the Institute, Vincelette spent more than 15 years as an Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota Extension, Youth Development. She has a Master of Education degree in Parent and Family Education.

In 2022, Katie Young joined the COE team as the Community Outreach and Education Coordinator. With nearly 15 years of teaching K-12 education in a formal classroom setting, Young has been instrumental in helping develop and implement activities and educational experiences for students at The Hormel Institute.

That includes the Young Scientist Program, which engages 6-8 grade students who are interested in science. The students come to the Institute once a month for the entire school year to work in the labs with scientists and learn through observation and hands-on experience. Other opportunities include educational experiences featuring activities and experiments, Family Learning Day, and Science Saturdays, where families can pick up kits to perform fun science experiments at home.

While Vincelette and Young are at the helm of the COE ship, they recognize that the success of the department is a group effort.

“Receiving this award is an honor and testament to the work that we are doing at The Hormel Institute, not only in our cutting-edge research labs, but also the commitment to providing quality opportunities for students and inspiring the next generation of scientists,” said Vincelette. “This incredibly important work is possible thanks to The Hormel Institute’s amazing faculty and staff who share their talents and help educate and mentor students.”

The Young Scientist Program, along with several other current and future educational opportunities, are possible thanks to a generous donation from Paul and Joanne Worlein and the development of the new Education Fund. This fund supports education initiatives for student learning opportunities at The Hormel Institute. If you would like to support education outreach at The Hormel Institute, please visit


The Hormel Institute is an independent biomedical research department within the University of Minnesota’s Office of the Vice President for Research. Collaborative research partners include Masonic Cancer Center UMN (a Comprehensive Cancer Center as designated by the National Cancer Institute, N.I.H.), Mayo Clinic, and many other leading research centers worldwide. The Hormel Institute, which tripled in size in 2008 and doubled again in size in 2016, is home to some of the world’s most cutting-edge research technologies and expert scientists. Over the next few years, The Hormel Institute will broaden its impact through innovative, world-class research in its quest to improve human health.