The South Dakota Department of Agriculture is getting a new leader.
Agriculture Secretary Walt Bones has announced that he's retiring from his position effective April 29. The Parker native said he's returning to his farm.
''It has truly been an honor to serve as Secretary of Agriculture,'' Bones said.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard said he's appointing Lucas Lentsch of Pierre to replace Bones.
Lentsch, 39, son of John M.
and the late Karen Lentsch of rural Marshall County, is well-known across the state and well-respected in the ag community.
"Lucas Lentsch will be a great Secretary of Agriculture," Gov. Daugaard said. "He is well-known across the state and well-respected in the ag community. Lucas will be an effective advocate for South Dakota's farmers and ranchers."
Lentsch is a graduate of South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership, Inc., and serves on the SDARL Board of Directors. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, majoring in dairy manufacturing, from South Dakota State University.
Since last year, Lentsch has been with Reinke Gray Wealth Management of Pierre as a financial advisor for farm and ranch families. Prior to that, he worked for two years as Director of Agricultural Development for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.
"It is a tremendous honor to be asked to serve as Secretary of Agriculture," Lentsch said. "I look forward to partnering with Governor Daugaard, industry leadership, and our state's farmers and ranchers to support South Dakota's leading industry."
Lentsch is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service. He is a member of the VFW and the American Legion. He is also a volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America.
In addition to his work in the ag industry, Lentsch served for two years as Executive Director of the South Dakota Republican Party. Before coming to Pierre, Lentsch spent 10 years in business development. He was also a founding member and chairman of Glacial Lakes Area Development, a community development nonprofit organization in northeastern South Dakota.
Lentsch and his wife, Laura, have four children: Austin, Claire, Shane, and Kate.