Hummel  kylla mug

Hummel receives Farm Journal honor

Kylla Hummel has turned her childhood passion for agriculture into an accomplished career that recently netted her a spot on the Farm Journal’s Top 40 under 40 in Agriculture list.
Hummel, a Jackson native who works as a key accounts manager for crop inputs company WinField United, learned she had been selected for the honor a few weeks ago.
“It’s such an honor,” Hummel said, “but I feel very humbled by it, too, because there are so many hardworking people out there in agriculture.”
Hummel sees that hard work firsthand in her field. In her current position, she works with co-ops across the state, helping farmers get the most out of her company’s services.
“I coordinate the services WinField has to help them be successful,” she said.
But Hummel doesn’t just help farmers currently in the business; she also uses her spare time to help future agriculture workers and students in her community and across the state.
“With FFA, I try to contribute to the local chapter here in Jackson,” Hummel said. “Laura Bidne has tapped me on the shoulder to help with events and I also volunteer as a judge in some events.”
She also goes back to her alma mater, the University of Minnesota, to help nourish the industry’s next generation.
“I’ve spoken to agriculture students at the University of Minnesota and I’ve recruited at campus career fairs,” Hummel said. “I’ve also gone back to the classroom to serve as a guest speaker.”
In her day-to-day life, Hummel sees the centrality of her clients — and agriculture as a whole — to the country’s economy.
“It’s given me the opportunity to see the importance of my industry,” Hummel said. “It’s truly an honor to work in an industry that supports our national security and our rural communities.”
Her favorite aspect of her work is getting to interact with and serve farming communities throughout Greater Minnesota.
“It’s cliché, but it comes down to the variety of people and professionals I get to work with,” Hummel said. “It’s difficult to find people who work harder than people who work in agriculture, so what puts a smile on my face at the end of the day is getting to work with so many hardworking, genuine people.”
Hummel lived in the Twin Cities with her family for years, but moved back to Jackson with them a few months ago.
“We just moved back to Jackson in October,” Hummel said. “My husband and I have lived in the cities since college and we made the decision to move back.”
Now, she said she is excited to raise her kids much like she was raised — in a hardworking community where family and agriculture are at the center of life.
“It’s been very rewarding to come back and raise our kids in the community that raised us,” Hummel said. “I attribute a lot of my success to my upbringing here.”
 
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On the Auction Block with Dan Pike

Dan Pike, owner of Dan Pike and Associates Auction Company in Jackson, got his first taste of the auction business as a child when he attended auctions regularly with his father, Chan, and his grandfather, Lester.
Pike said he enjoyed the auctions and that by the time he was about 10 years old, the owner of the local sale barn in Jackson, Kenny Webster, let him help get the livestock in and out of the ring. By the age of 13 or 14, Pike knew he wanted to go to auction school.
In 1975 Pike attended Reisch Auction School in Mason City, Iowa. He earned his auctioneering license and started his business that same year.
At first, he focused on livestock auctions and worked with Webster at the sale barn. Later, he worked with the Kahler family at Auctioneer Alley and changed his focus from livestock to farm land and farm machinery. He still works with Kahler family as well as other auctioneers today.
During his 45 years in the auction business, Pike has seen many changes. He said the biggest change is that there are fewer farmers, which means fewer sales. The dollar amounts for the sales today, however, are much larger than they were four decades ago.
Another big change is the use of technology. Pike started in the business before computers came into play. When people started using them, he didn’t think he ever would.
“Now I use it all the time,” he said.
Online bidding and auctions have also been a big change since he started his career. Pike said the ability to let people participate online has allowed him to sell to people in several states, Canada and Mexico.
“We reach so many more people through the technology of internet bidding,” he said.
Pike said he’s done some form of online auctions for about 10 years, but it’s become a bigger part of his business in the last five. He said at least a third and as much as half of his equipment sales are online. Fewer farm land sales are done online, but the number is growing. He expects online sales to continue to grow overall.
“I think it’s going to play a much bigger role as we go forward,” Pike said.
In addition to Pike, Dan Pike and Associates Auction Company has one other auctioneer, Scott Christopher. Christopher is also an appraiser with Pike’s appraisal business and a real estate agent with his real estate business Land and Farm Services Unlimited. Pike’s wife Jean is the company’s administrative assistant and does clerking for the auction business. Pike also hires part-time people to help with the auctions.
Pike does most of his auction business in Minnesota and Iowa. He said his company does about 15 to 20 farm machinery sales a year and sells about 5,000 to 8,000 acres of land a year.
Pike said he enjoys the fast pace of the auction business, the fact that every auction is unique and working with the farmers. In is mind, he said, an auction is the true measure of the worth of something based on the market at that time.
“It is the true and fair method of selling something,” he said.
Pike grew up in Jackson and has spent nearly all his life there. He and Jean live in Jackson and own a cow calf operation west of town where they raise about 40 to 50 head of purebred registered Angus cattle.
Albert henning

Henning carries on childhood memories with conservation
 

When Albert Henning was a boy, he, along with all of his siblings, spent a lot of time fishing.
“I remember my dad taking us to the Okabena Creek to fish,” Henning said. “I’m from a family of 12, so my dad didn’t always get a lot of fishing in because he was doing all the hook work.”
Those trips were usually a reward for completing farm chores, and it endowed Henning with a love of fishing — and the natural environment — he’s maintained all his life.
“I grew up with it, I liked it and I made a few fishing trips, but most of my fishing was done around here.” Henning said.
He might not have realized it back then, but that love would lead him to become a champion of Jackson County’s lakes and natural resources.
Henning is now chairman of the Jackson County Conservation League, which works to make the county’s lakes and parks more hospitable for local activities and community events.
“I had a friend and a son-in-law talk me into joining,” Henning said.
Since then, he’s been elected chairman twice, and is now serving for a second time.
Henning has worked in agriculture for years, ever since he started helping his dad with farm chores as a kid.
“I worked for AGCO for 20 years and I work in farming with my brother-in-law,” Henning said. “I farm corn and soybeans and I’ve been in farming since ’76.”
His work for the conservation league has helped the organization grow like a cornstalk, with numerous projects always under way and every year bringing plenty of community events with it — until this year, anyway.
“We’re sponsors for the Take a Kid Fishing program, which we do with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department Reserves on Pearl and Loon lakes,” Henning said.
The program helps kids who might not normally get to experience fishing partake in the experience and enjoy snacks and other activities along the way.
“It’s been a big hit,” Henning said. “It’s gone from 20 or 30 kids to 80 or 90 kids.”
The core of the conservation league’s work is addressing natural resource concerns in the community by buying land to set up for public lake use, raising money for docks and maintaining lake aeration systems.
“We’ve had land acquisitions for the lakes,” Henning said. “We’ve got aeration systems through the winter for Pearl, Little Spirit, Loon, Clear and Independence lakes.”
Local families and landowners have helped the league in those endeavors, sometimes cementing their legacies by donating land for public use.
“We had a family come forward that wanted to make access to Lake Flaherty,” Henning said. “We bought and made the payments on that land in honor of her parents and we worked with them on that.”
Of course, no project can come without funding, so Henning and his fellow board members work to raise money through different community events, including an annual member banquet and raffles, along with money received from the county for some of their projects.
“Our banquet is on March 19 at the Horse Barn and Hunt Club,” Henning said. “Last year we had to cancel due to COVID, so it’s contingent, but I’m hopeful.”
The group also plans on raffles and other activities as ways to raise money in an unorthodox year.
Henning said it’s important for the community as a whole to get involved and stay involved in conservation so local kids can fish and hunt just as he did in his youth.
“People have to care about their communities and they have got to step forward,” Henning said. “Be involved and when something isn’t happening the right way, bring it forward, because that’s how we found out about the access needs for our lakes.”
 
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On the Auction Block with Dean Stoltenberg

Dean Stoltenberg, owner of Stoltenberg Auction Service, started attending auctions with his father Lloyd at the age of seven or eight. The two regularly went to the auction market in Pipestone on Saturdays as he was growing up.
Stoltenberg, now 66, said the auction business appealed to him right away, especially the chant used by the auctioneers. Eventually, he decided to pursue a career in the business.
Stoltenberg attended the World Wide College of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa, and obtained an auction license in 1984. He started his own business that same year.
“When you get out of school you’re pretty hungry to get going,” Stoltenberg said.
He said it’s not easy to get started in the auction business because customers often feel more comfortable having a more experienced auctioneer sell their possessions rather than a “green horn.”
While Stoltenberg has his own business, he has historically worked with other auctioneers. In the beginning, he worked with Paul Nelson for a few years. He sold with the Pipestone Auction Market for 28 years, up until around five years ago. Now he works with Chuck Sutton Auctioneer and Land Broker. Stoltenberg is also a licensed real estate agent with Pipestone Realty.
He said he doesn’t really have a specialty when it comes to what he sells at auction. He’ll sell real estate, antiques, land, livestock, “pretty much anything.”
“Whatever needs selling, we sell it,” he said.
He’s done auctions in Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.
The biggest change to the auction business during his 36 years in the industry has been the use of online auctions, which has greatly increased the number of people that can be reached. Stoltenberg said he and Sutton regularly do online auctions in conjunction with live auctions with people bidding at the auction site and online at the same time. He said they commonly sell large machinery online and have sold items all over the country.
“It’s amazing how that’s taken off,” Stoltenberg said.
He said the auction business has been a “good occupation” over the nearly four decades he’s been at it. He particularly enjoys being around the people. He said the work allows him the opportunity to get to know a variety of people based on the type of auction. He might meet different people at a coin auction than a land auction, for example.
Stoltenberg and his wife Nancy live a couple miles west of Ihlen where they grow grain and raise beef cattle. For many years he has been the auctioneer and she has clerked for the annual ribbon auction at the Pipestone County Fair. Their family was inducted into the Pipestone County 4-H Hall of Fame in 2018 for that and other contributions to the organization.