Conversation with the author

With Michael M. Miller, Germans from Russia Bibliographer, NDSU Libraries, Fargo

Click on cover for book order form.

Dr. LaVern "Vern" Freeh, author of the book, "Couldn't Be Better: The Russian Farm Community Project" published by the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo, 223 pages, softcover and hardcover editions.

Why did you decide to write this book, "Couldn't Be Better"?

I was deeply impressed by what a small group of people could accomplish if they set their minds and hearts to it. So I wanted to share their accomplishments with a broader audience.

Growing upon a farm near Harvey, ND, how did this influence you in your writing this book?

Our farm, where I was growing up was rather an isolated place, and so I had lots of time to think about what I wanted my life to accomplish. I even had a flat rock, on the highest point on our farm where I would sit and do much of that thinking when I wasn't involved with the many farm chores. My thoughts always returned to putting myself in position to help people help themselves throughout the world.

As a graduate of NDSU with German-Russian roots, why is this book important to you and your contribution to preserve the heritage and culture of the Germans from Russia?

My studies and extra curricular activities at NDSU helped prepare me for living my dream; my German-Russian roots provided me the cultural foundation and passion. Through the Russian Farm Community Project, I am able to make a return on the investment that NDSU and my German-Russian roots made in me.

How did your professional work experiences influence you to become involved with the Russian Farm Community Project?

Through my work with the University of Minnesota, Land O'Lakes and the United States government, I had the opportunity to travel and work in Russia beginning in the mid 1970s. So it was rather natural that I would become part of the Russian Farm Community Project after the collapse of communism.

Has the Russian Farm Community Project been important to you personally?

It has given me the opportunity to work closely with outstanding people in Russia and America (without remuneration except for the satisfaction of accomplishment), to help the Russian people privatize their agricultural and rural communities and make them productive.

What was it like authoring your first book?

It is probably as close as a man can ever come to carrying a child for nine months and giving birth.

Finally, what else would you like to share about your book?

I hope this book will attract people to become part of the Russian Farm Community Project.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller