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Salzwedal means business with his hobbies

Alan Salzwedel farms, but also operates his Captive Communications business out of an office and studio in Lakefield, viewing both as more of hobbies for him at this point in his life.
Salzwedel started farming in 1988 with his brothers on a small farm of a few hundred acres northeast of Lakefield, but now lives by Okabena, where he also farms another 80 acres.
The Salzwedels raise both corn and soybeans and, this year — for the first time ever — are also raising cover crops.
“I started out in radio advertising in Little Rock, Ark.,” Salzwedel said. “I started my own advertising and marketing agency back in 1988 too.”
Salzwedel met his future wife, Sue, about that time and she didn’t want to move to Arkansas. Sue Salzwedel had earned her master’s degree in elementary education so Salzwedel told her he could do his work anywhere and encouraged her to get a job wherever she could.
“She ended up getting a job in my hometown of Lakefield,” he said. “So I started my advertising business and she taught school.”
Then Salzwedel had the opportunity to develop an ad campaign for a friend of his who was the city administrator for the city of Rolfe, Iowa.
“We ran ads promoting Rolfe in Sioux City and Des Moines, Iowa,” he said. “The ad campaign was successful and soon the story of the success of this little Iowa town promoting itself was picked up by and made all three of the major national networks — CBS, NBC and ABC. It even made it on the Paul Harvey program.”
And people started moving to Rolfe — even from places like New York and California.
“That all helped us get our first clients,” Salzwedel said. “Then, in the mid-1990s, Captive Communications took off. Basically, Captive Communications provides music and messages for my clients while their customers are put on hold.”
That was about the time the Internet really got started and Captive Communications was able to use digital technology and get a website up right away.
“I enjoy the creativity and interaction I have with my clients,” Salzwedel said. “I have been able to develop wonderful friendships with people I have never met through my business here.”
Salzwedel has had clients across the globe, though now he mainly focuses on national accounts.
“I look at my work as great part-time hobby jobs,” he said. “I can sit in here on rainy days and do my work without having to worry about the weather. And really I can do this work from any location.”
Another “hobby” Salzwedel has is growing apples.
“I enjoy growing things,” he said. “It is another hobby of mine.”

 
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Rogers pursuing his passion for conservation as summer intern with HLWD, NHLGP

Ely Rogers is getting a taste of his intended career this summer as an intern with the Heron Lake Watershed District and the North Heron Lake Game Producers.
Rogers began his internship on May 20 under the tutelage of Catherine Wegehaupt, HLWD watershed technician.
“Her office is in Worthington,” Rogers said. “She is there so she can more easily interact with the farmers that come into the county conservation offices.”
In his position, Rogers has kept busy with water sampling — “stream sampling at Jack Creek, Okabena Creek and at the Heron Lake Outlet,” he said, adding, “Sometimes I actually do sampling at the creek sites, but we have data loggers on the bridges, a white box that records data as to how much rain we have had and the height of the creek.”
When Rogers actually does physical sampling, he uses a probe to check for things like water height, pH levels, dissolved oxygen levels and the conductivity of the water.
“I do record the day and time of day I do my field sampling,” he said. “With the conductivity of the water, I can check how easily electricity can flow through the water. The samplings can change — and that depends on rain events. It takes about three days to do it, except after storms. I check the creeks manually with a flexible metal ruler because sometimes the data recorders can get off.”
Rogers has also been conducting doing wood duck site surveys, though he has found that difficult because of all the flooding this year.
“It kind of makes work out of it,” he said. “So far, I have found I really like going out collecting samples — sort of like a scientist. But it has been harder this year and they have left it up to me to do it since I am the only intern here this summer. It involves a lot of time management and they do leave it up to me figuring things out by myself.”
Rogers has also been working on plant identification and will be doing lake level assessments at both East and West Graham Lakes, second Fulda Lake and Duck Lake. He has been taking water samples of lakes once a month at both North and South Heron Lake and East and West Graham Lakes, as well as first and second Fulda Lakes.
As far as work with the North Heron Lake Game Producers, Rogers said he most likely will be doing goose banding in the near future, but sees water levels affecting that work as well.
Rogers is a native of New London. He graduated from Minnesota State University in December of last year with a degree in environmental science.
“I was doing public safety work in college, but my career goal is to become a watershed technician like Catherine,” he said. “And possibly being a tech with a soil and water conservation district interests me too.”
When not working, Rogers enjoys fishing and playing video games.
“It is good working here, and I have grown to like the 10-hour days, as we get Fridays off,” he added.
Rogers’ father, Bryan, works with Corteva as a salesman. His mother, Lynette, works in human resources for a dough manufacturing company. He has one sister, Waverley, who is attending St. Cloud State University and an older brother, Ryan, who is in the U.S. Navy. He also has a twin brother, Lucas, who is presently working for North Shore Marketing.
“I am looking forward to learning more of what it means to be a part of a watershed district,” Rogers said.
 
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Local soybean farmer promoting international trade

Bill Gordon, a fourth-generation farmer from Worthington, did some extensive traveling in the last couple of weeks in the name of trade.
Gordon was among a 54-member U.S. Department of Agriculture delegation that went on a trade mission to Bogata, Columbia. From there, Gordon joined a group of 11 from Minnesota that went to Lima, Peru.
Gordon, vice president of the American Soybean Association (ASA), said the delegation wanted to see how it could increase trade with Columbia and Peru. He said he was pleased to find out not only that those countries are already using quite a bit of product from the United States, but also that the door is open to quite a bit more.
The United States exported $1.4 billion worth of agricultural products to Peru in 2018, and Peru imported $246 million worth of U.S. soy product, making the U.S. the second largest agriculture product exporter to Peru. The country is also the United States’ 34th largest trading partner.
As a member of the ASA, Gordon said his favorite part is lobbying in Washington, D.C. where he can make a difference for farmers. He said many of the politicians who are making the laws that affect farmers really don’t know all that much about the process itself. He said he feels it’s his duty, and one he takes very seriously, to be the voice of soybean growers and represent the farmers.
While Gordon is proud to be a fourth-generation farmer, he is even more proud of the fifth generation he is currently raising on the farm. He and his wife have four children.
Along with his father, Gordon farms 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans on a farm that will mark its 100th year next year. He also owns Worthington Tax and Business Services and will assume the ASA presidency next year when the association will also mark its 100th year.
 

Bob Worth talks agriculture

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Recently, Bob Worth spent several hours talking about agriculture with a crew from the South China Morning Post, who came to meet him at his rural Lake Benton farm.
“They really kind of wanted to talk about farm economy, not planting, and also all the issues with the trade stuff that’s going on,” Worth said.
Worth, 66, talks about his visitors from China as though it was nothing out of the ordinary. And for him, it wasn’t.
Worth is a lifelong farmer and became a voice for agriculture through his involvement in the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and American Soybean Association. He’s the secretary of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and has served as president from 2005 to 2007. He served on the American Soybean Association from 2007 to 2014, including four years as vice president.
Over the years he’s been interviewed about agriculture by members of the media from the Netherlands, Germany, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Minnesota Public Radio, National Public Radio, the Washington Post as well as other local TV and radio stations.
Once he did one interview, he said other news outlets just kept contacting him. He said it’s been a fun and interesting experience, and one that he feels is important.
“We need to have somebody be a spokesperson for ag,” Worth said. “Farmers are a great group of people, but they’re a group of people who like to keep everything to themselves. We’ve got to quit doing that because if we don’t tell our story, nobody will, and we let the people [tell the story] who contradict a lot of what we do. They tell their story louder and louder, so people start to believe them instead of us in agriculture.”
Worth said he’s not a professional speaker, but  that he likes to tell it like it is.
When he’s not talking about agriculture, he’s living it. He and his son, Jon, grow corn and soybeans, and sometimes spring wheat, on around 2,300 acres near Lake Benton. Jon is a fifth-generation farmer and Worth said he wouldn’t be surprised if one of Jon’s kids carried on the tradition.
Worth and his wife, Gail, moved from the farm to Lake Benton in 2008 and he is now the Mayor of Lake Benton, but he continues to farm.
“I love what I do,” he said. “Putting a seed in the ground and watching it grow, that’s the best part of farming. Getting to farm with your son, to be your own boss, those are really the pluses.”
That’s not to say there aren’t negatives to the business, he said. This spring is one of those times due to the wet weather that has prevented farmers from planting their crops. Worth said during the last week in May that he and his son had only been able to plant about 200 acres of corn.
“We’re probably not going to plant anymore corn,” he said, and will likely access the Preventive Plant route of his crop insurance after the May 31 deadline to get corn in the ground.
“Soybeans are another ball game,” he said. “Preventive Plant doesn’t pay very well. If it quits raining, we’ll plant soybeans.”
While it’s certainly a difficult year for crop farmers, Worth said the people he said he feels the most sympathy for are those who have livestock.
“They’ve got to have feed for the livestock,” he said. “They’ve got to have some of their own feed. I think these guys will still plant some corn because they need some silage and roughage to feed them. Guys with hogs, I don’t know what they’re going to do because they need corn to feed their animals. I’m really worried about how they’re going to do.”
 

From farm to fitness

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Troy Untiedt was born on a farm in the Sioux Valley area of Jackson County and, growing up, always thought he would become a farmer someday. Like so many future farmers, Untiedt labored with his family on their farm in a farrow-to-finish hog operation from the time he was a little kid.
In 1982, his family moved to his grandfather’s farm in Jackson County’s Rost Township.
Though farming was in his blood, Untiedt also got into physical training as a 12-year-old kid, enjoying weight lifting in particular.
After high school, with dreams of farming still in his head, he headed off to South Dakota State University majoring in ag business. It was while at college he met his future wife, Janele.
She was a health, physical education, recreation major, so the two had something in common from the get-go.
“I got my four-year degree in ag business,” Troy Untiedt said. “But I never used what I had learned in agriculture.”
Instead, the Untiedts decided to start a fitness center, Body Balance Fitness, in Lakefield, close to where Troy had grown up.
“My dad, Robert, and my mom, Connie, still farm, but with my brothers, Shane and Travis,” Troy Untiedt said. “So there wasn’t really room for me on the farm and Dad didn’t want to expand his farming operation back then, so Body Balance was a good fit for Janele and I and we started our business in 2003 here.”
As a farming community, Lakefield brought a ready-made clientele to Body Balance for the Untiedts.
“Area farmers and their families are a good part of our clientele at our business,” Troy Untiedt said. “And I know from my own experience working on a farm how valuable having a fitness center close by can be.”
In addition to massage therapy, the Untiedts offer fitness programs for their new clients and have a large variety of fitness equipment available, including free weights, nautilus and a complete-pace circuit-training room as well.
“We offer our clients a line of healthy supplements for everything from wellness to weight loss,” Janele Untiedt said. “We also have essential oils that help farm families and our other clientele find relief from sore muscles right along with massage, and that helps them sleep better, as well as increase their energy levels.”
Body Balance also offers ionic cleansing to detoxify the body from the chemicals it can be exposed to for overall health and FIR infrared sauna, which the Untiedts say helps relieve the aches and pains from riding in a truck or driving a tractor for up to 16 hours at a time.
“Both Janele and I have a goal with our business — to help people feel good, either through fitness or massage or both,” Troy Untiedt said.
The Untiedts have found success in the small farming community of Lakefield by not only providing a full-fledged fitness center at Body Balance and keeping up to date on the latest in fitness equipment and programs, but also by being there for their clients, onsite throughout the day even though they offer 24- hour access to Body Balance via a key card system.
“People like to see a face to our business,” Troy Untiedt said. “And we are that face. We are here the majority of the time. This is what we do — we live it. We are very blessed that the people of this area support us.”