A chat with Scott Rall
Chapter president, Nobles County Pheasants Forever
 

Farm Market News: What is your professional affiliation?  How long have you served in this position?
Scott Rall: I am a 30-year volunteer for Nobles County Pheasants Forever. I’ve served as the chapter president since 2006

FMN: What is the primary objective of your organization?
SR: Pheasants Forever is a habitat organization dedicated to protection of pheasant and other wildlife habitat. This is accomplished through habitat acquisition, enhancement, education and the implementation of conservation programs.

FMN: How does your organization benefit its members?
SR: The benefits are wide-ranging. In my county, there are many acres of land that have been added to the public recreation system for use by hunters, photographers, hikers and many others. Bird-watching is getting very popular on these public lands as well. We provide educational opportunities for young people to get engaged in the outdoors through pollinator events, youth shooting clinics, sponsoring firearm safety programs and supporting the rapidly increasing high school trap league. Much of what we do provides great benefits to clean water. Protecting sensitive soils and restoring wetlands on these habitat acres reduce pollution, reduces soil erosion and helps recharge subsurface aquifers. These benefits cross over to a great many folks in addition to our members.

FMN: Where did you grow up?
SR: As a kid I moved a lot but Worthington has been my home for all of my adult life

FMN: Do you farm currently? If so where?
SR: I am not an active ag producer but I do own some farm land in Nobles County that has been enrolled in a wide variety of conservation programs, including the first-ever native prairie easement in Nobles County and one of the very first sign-ups in the Des Moines River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. Others include a living snow fence, Back 40 CRP and several field wind breaks.

FMN: Can you describe your business operation?
SR: My day job is as the owner and operator of Rall Financial Services in Worthington. This is an independent investment advisory firm. My non-work passion is habitat conservation as a volunteer
          
FMN: Family?
SR: I am recently widowed and have two great kids, 33-year-old twins: Brandon Rall and Brittany Remme.

FMN: Outside interests?
SR: Outside of conservation work my other passion is as a hunting dog trainer. I have three-to-four black Labradors of my own at all times. We hunt many days afield chasing ring-necked pheasants.
          
FMN: What advice would you give young people interested in pursuing a career in agriculture/conservation?
SR: Agriculture and conservation need to work hand-in-hand. Precision agriculture was the ability to engage producers to maximize profits on productive soils and then complement producer operations with the proper conservation practices on those more marginal acres. Working together and engaging each other will give the best and most sustainable results.

 

A Chat with Ryan Melkert, Ag in the Classroom Teacher

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Farm Market News: What is your professional affiliation? How long have you served in this position?
Ryan Melkert: I teach second grade at Martin County West in Sherburn, which recently received an Ag in the Classroom grant. I am in my fourth year of teaching at MCW and love every minute of it!
 
Farm Market News: What are your organization’s primary objectives?
RM: The primary objective I had in writing the Ag in the Classroom grant was to find hands-on ways to integrate science, engineering and math principles into my classroom. My classroom budget does not allow for very much money to be spent on costly science equipment and lab supplies, and this grant was an excellent way to get materials and to teach my students about a very important industry in Minnesota.
 
Farm Market News: How does your organization benefit its members?
RM: For this grant, I worked with one of the high school agricultural education instructors in our school district to integrate agricultural concepts into the science standards I need to cover. The students in my classroom will benefit greatly from this collaboration because we will have new materials and supplies to make learning about science and agriculture exciting!
 
Farm Market News: Where did you grow up?
RM: I grew up in a small town called Rothsay located near Fergus Falls. It is a rural community like this one that is very agricultural driven.
 
Farm Market News: Do you farm currently? If so where?
RM: Currently I do not live on a farm, but I used to.
 
Farm Market News: Can you describe your operation?
RM: When I lived on a farm, my family raised around 130 feeder pigs, 40 head of cattle and 120 chickens.
 
Farm Market News: Family?
RM: I have four sisters.
 
FMN: Outside interests?
RM: When I am not teaching, I am either spending time with my friends, family and dog; coaching sports; playing softball; playing rugby for the Mankato Marauders; or listening to music.
 
FMN: What advice would you give young people looking at a career in agriculture?
RM: Through teaching in a rural community, I’ve found almost every career in this area will have some relationship with agriculture. I encourage young people to learn as much as they can about agriculture to see if there is an area that interests them!

A Chat with Matt Altman, participant of the Minnesota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Class X

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Farm Market News: What is your professional affiliation? How long have you served in this position?
Matt Altman: I am currently a participant of Minnesota Agricultural and Rural Leadership’s [MARL] Class X.

FMN: What are your organization’s primary objectives?
MA: MARL’s mission is to develop the skills of Minnesota’s agricultural and rural leaders so they may maximize their impact and effectiveness in local, state, national and international arenas.

FMN: How does your organization benefit its members?
MA: MARL’s unique two-year seminar-based program gives participants in-depth leadership training, personal skill building and location-related study, in addition to international study.

FMN: Where did you grow up?
MA: Lismore.

FMN: Do you farm currently? If so where?
MA: My wife, Amanda, and I currently own and operate Five Pine Cattle Co. We are a seedstock Gelbvieh and Red Angus operation based near Worthington.

FMN: Can you describe your operation?
MA: We raise and market purebred bulls and replacement heifers to local cow/calf producers annually. We utilize embryo transfer and artificial insemination to provide superior genetics to our customers.

FMN: Family?
MA: Amanda and I have two kids — Annabelle, 4, and Brant, 3.

FMN: Outside interests?
MA: When we aren’t working at our full-time jobs, we enjoy spending time with our cattle and improving our operation in any way possible. We also enjoy spending time with our kids, and other family.

FMN: What advice would you give young people looking at a career in agriculture?
MA: Find your passion, and don’t rule local agriculture out! There are many jobs in many different sectors of our local agriculture industry you might not expect.
It is easy for me to go to work and come home to work on our operation every day because I absolutely love what I do! Be tenacious, and don’t be afraid to show your willingness to work for what you want.
 

A Chat with Sam Johnson Regional project manager for Minnesota Soybean

Farm Market News: What is your professional affiliation? How long have you served in this position?
Sam Johnson: Regional project manager for Minnesota Soybean. I have served in this position since Sept. 10.

FMN: What are your organization’s primary objectives?
SJ: Minnesota Soybean is a dual organization comprised on the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. MSR&PC worked to help Minnesota soybean farmers increase their profitability through a variety of ways, including finding new uses for soybeans in commercialized products, introducing soybeans in international markets and providing educational outreach to consumers about soybeans and their uses. This is all made possible because of the soybean check-off dollars through a federally mandated check-off program. MSGA is the largest soybean association, with nearly 3,000 producers investing in the organization to be the voice of Minnesota soybean farms across Minnesota and Washington, D.C., to fight for farm-friendly policies. They also work to help farmers better understand legislation and push for legislative policies to help farmers in all aspects of their operations.
While we have the state organization that works on behalf of Minnesota farmers, my primary responsibility is being the liaison between the state organization and our county soybean organizations. I attend county meetings, events and promotional activities to help our counties grow and share the message of the soybean industry with those in their area. The county organizations are comprised of farmers and industry representatives who are passionate about agriculture and sharing the soybean message with those in their county.

FMN: How does your organization benefit its members?
SJ: We benefit our members through a number of ways. First and foremost, the MSGA fights to craft and promote legislation. MSGA serves as the voice of all soybean farmers across the state of Minnesota in St. Paul and Washington, D.C. The MSR&PC works to develop new uses for soybeans, identify new international markets in which soybeans would be an asset and provide outreach to those directly and indirectly involved in agriculture. Our ultimate goal is to help farmers increase efficiency and profitability on the farm so they can continue to farm the next year and provide for their families.

FMN: Where did you grow up?
SJ: I grew up in Glenville.

FMN: Do you farm currently? If so where?
SJ: I currently help my family farm when I can on our family farm in Glenville.

FMN: Can you describe your operation?
SJ: Our operation is comprised of corn, soybean and cattle.

FMN: Family?
SJ: Father, David Johnson; mother, Sandy Johnson; older sister, Jennifer Johnson; older brother, Collin Johnson.

FMN: Outside interests?
SJ: Hobbies include traveling, golfing and hiking. I love staying involved with the 4-H and FFA programs as a volunteer.

FMN: What advice would you give young people looking at a career in agriculture?
SJ: There are so many possibilities to get involved in agriculture through avenues you might not even think of. With that, it is important for young people, even myself, to maintain an open mind when it comes to agriculture because things change fast and it is important to adapt to those changes. This could be technology, markets, etc., and you never know what might happen. Change is constant in agriculture and it is important to be open and embrace that change.

 

A Chat with Stephanie LaBrune

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Farm Market News: What is your professional affiliation?  How long have you served in this position?
Stephanie LaBrune: I work for the Pipestone Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Pipestone County Environmental Office. With the two local governmental entities merged together, most refer to us as the County Conservation & Zoning office. I have had the pleasure of serving in the capacity as Administrative Assistant for nearly 11 years.

FMN: What is the primary objective of your organization?
SL: The primary objective of our organization is to support local landowners and operators by working closely with them to carry out natural resource management practices and assist them with environmental and land use concerns.

FMN: How does your organization benefit its members?
SL: Our organization serves as a one-stop shop for landowners and producers who are interested in conservation practices that reduce pollution and improve natural resources. By working in partnership with other federal, state, and local agencies, we are able to provide technical engineering, planning and financial assistance to aid in the implementation of conservation projects as well as many other soil health and nutrient management practices. Our ultimate goal is to benefit the public as a whole by making every effort to protect our soil and water resources and ensure that the land remains viable and productive for future generations. For more information on the services we provide, visit our website at www.pipestoneswcd.org.

FMN: Where did you grow up?
SL: I was born and raised in Pipestone, Minn.

FMN: Do you farm currently? If so where?
SL: My family and I currently operate a small 40-acre farm on top of the Buffalo Ridge near Holland, Minn.

FMN: Can you describe your business operation?
SL: Our farming operation primarily consists of raising cattle to provide food for our family. However, it is important to us that we are good stewards of the land, so over the last few years we have converted 20 acres of highly erodible cropland into the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program as a way to re-build the soil structure and provide habitat for wildlife. We have also enrolled our pasture into the CRP Grasslands program, which has benefited our operation immensely by still allowing us to graze or hay our pasture at a reduced rate, which in turn has given our acres a chance to mend after many years of intense grazing. By incorporating these valuable conservation practices, our farm is now recognized as a Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certified Farm with the MDA.

FMN: Family?
SL: My husband, Ryan, owns a custom cabinetry business: Ultimate Woodworking, Inc. He is also a volunteer on the Holland fire department. Together we have two children: Danica, 7, and Lincoln, 5.

FMN: Outside interests?
SL: Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family outdoors and riding ATV. I also serve as a member of the St. Paul Lutheran Preschool board.

FMN: What advice would you give young people interested in pursuing a career in agriculture?
SL: If you have a true passion for farming, animals, or conservation, I would encourage you to pursue a career in agriculture. Agriculture is the backbone of our local economy and there is a diverse selection of careers available all throughout the world. In my career, I have found that working with local producers to improve their operation can be extremely rewarding.