Trimont Farm Girl Excited to Join State's Ag Interpretative Center

Trimont Farm Girl Excited to Join State's Ag Interpretative Center

A Trimont farm girl is the newest addition to the staff of the state’s agricultural interpretive center.
Ellyn Swanson was named program and communications assistant for rural Waseca-based Farmamerica last month. In her new role, she is charged with developing and implementing agricultural education programs, assisting with social media accounts and writing promotional and professional materials, including grant proposals and press releases.
Swanson grew up on her family’s corn and soybean farm near Trimont, where she said she developed a strong passion for agriculture and farming. That led to her involvement in FFA throughout high school and eventually on her path to the University of Minnesota. She graduated from Martin County West High School in 2015 and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communication and marketing from the U of M Twin Cities in May.
Swanson is the daughter of Mike and Laura Kern of Trimont and Phil and Renetta Swanson of Sherburn.
Swanson joins Farmamerica with three years of professional experience working in the agriculture industry, and many years of active experience in production agriculture. Most recently, she worked as the communications assistant for the U of M Agricultural Education, Communication and Marketing Department. Swanson also worked for Jackson-based New Fashion Pork as a communications project intern, and she gained experience working in 4-H and Extension as the 2016 summer program assistant and the 2017 interim program coordinator for Martin County.
Swanson also helps tell the story of today’s farm families as the communications manager for Highview Farms near Hamburg. When she’s not taking photos around the farm or sharing the farm’s story on social media, Swanson said she can be found feeding calves and helping milk the 200-Jersey cow herd. While happy to be working in communications and sharing the story of agriculture, Swanson said she also hopes to someday farm alongside her family.
Jessica Rollins, executive director of Farmamerica, said she is excited to welcome Swanson onboard.
“Ellyn is a fantastic addition to our team at Farmamerica,” Rollins said. “Her passion for sharing the story of agriculture, firsthand experience in the industry and working with youth provide a dynamic level of energy and creativity to the programs we’re developing.”
Farmamerica is a nonprofit organization established by the state Legislature in 1978 as Minnesota’s agricultural interpretive center, telling the story of agriculture through historical tours, educational programs and family events. The 360-acre Farmamerica site is just off Highway 14 on County Road 2, west of Waseca.
 

Pipestone County 4-H Family of 2017

Pipestone County 4-H Family of 2017

The Lyle and Julie Blom family were recently recognized as the 2017 Pipestone County 4-H Family of the Year. They received the honor at the annual Pipestone County 4-H recognition night on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
“I knew our name had been mentioned, but there were other families who I really felt were maybe more deserving,” Julie said.
Their daughters, Charissa, Shannon, Leah and Emily were all in attendance for Lyle and Julie to receive the award.
“Leah knew ahead of time and contacted our other daughters,” Julie said.
Charissa, of Luverne and Shannon, of Hurley, S.D., came to the awards ceremony, surprising the rest of the family when the award was announced. Leah and Emily, both students at Augustana University, came from Sioux Falls for the event.
“The group chose Lyle and Julie because they have been super involved in 4-H,” said Brandi Schaap, Pipestone County 4-H Coordinator. “Julie has served as club leader for about nine years and has been super involved at the county level serving on multiple committees, including the awards committee, interstate exchange, and helped get a variety of project meetings and such going. Lyle has always been a huge supporter, helping with projects and different events.”
The Blom family has been involved in 4-H since Leah came to them when she was in first or second grade and requested to join because her friend, Taylor Kruisselbrink, was in 4-H.
“It’s been about 12 years,” Lyle said.
Charissa and Shannon helped Leah and Emily with their various 4-H projects over the years, such as photography and fashion review, which requires a scrapbook-style information booklet.
While both Lyle and Julie grew up in agriculture families, neither participated in 4-H as kids.
“I look back and say, ‘I wish I could have known that stuff when I was their age,’ but we didn’t have that opportunity,” Julie said.
“It teaches them a lot of leadership,” Lyle said.
In the beginning, Julie would help the girls with general projects like cooking, crafting and woodworking and Lyle would help them with the animals.
While the Bloms acknowledged that 4-H is a lot of work, they’ve really enjoyed the time Leah and Emily spent in 4-H and their time as a family volunteering for the program.
“I just think of all the memories that we have – the good, bad and ugly,” she said.
Julie recounted being up at 2 a.m. trying to make flower arrangements that were to be judged the next day. The situation was stressful at the time, but is now something she laughs at.
“It was a lot of good times, a lot of good memories,” Julie said. “I wish every family would do it. It’s just such a great learning experience.”
Over the years Julie became more involved with the 4-H program. Then about five years ago the club leader of the Prairie Grangers was going to retire.
“Nobody was stepping up and our club was going to have to fold,” Julie said.
Julie didn’t let that happen, asking Kaylene Moeller to be her co-leader.
This was Julie’s last year as a leader. Moeller will remain for another year, with Lori Goelz now a leader for the Prairie Grangers.
Julie gives credit to Lyle for helping her as a leader, making sure there were supplies for the meals at the monthly meetings, loading the car for 4-H events, and helping the girls get their projects ready to be taken to the fairgrounds.
“It takes a whole family,” she said.
Julie’s boss, David Hoss at GROWMARK, allowed Julie to take time off for 4-H activities like running the bloodmobile in Ruthton, creating the club banner, and building a float for Holland’s sesquicentennial parade. The float was a cow that had a tail that moved up and down. A kid inside the float then threw tootsie rolls out the tail. Hoss helped build the float.
“I can’t take all the credit,” Julie said. “We have a wonderful club with wonderful parental support in our club, which I’m sure helped us shine.”
“There were a lot of good families when our girls were younger that were good examples and there are families coming up now,” Lyle said.
Julie was thankful for the leadership of other families when the Bloms first started participating in 4-H and made it a goal to pay it forward to new club members over the years.
“I hope to still stay involved with a few things,” she said. “I really enjoy the community pride projects – the part of our creed that says we want to give our hands to larger service.”
 

Schreiber Farms, Cares for the Land for More Than Six Decades

Joe Schreiber was raised on a farm, lived on a farm the majority of his life and farmed himself for 63 years.
Schreiber is no novice when it comes to hard work, having started out farming as a kid on his family’s farm on the shores of Loon Lake in Jackson County using only hand tools. Schreiber had four brothers and five sisters who all helped their dad and mom farm.
Schreiber started farming on his own with help from his wife, Alberta, in 1952. He farmed first up by Wilder, 300 acres he rented from Fred Malchow. When Malchow sold out, Schreiber farmed 220 acres owned by Ernst and Art Buckman between Jackson and Petersburg.
He continued farming there until his brother, Leonard, told him about a job opportunity building bridges up where his brother lived near Owatonna. He and Leonard were close.
“I thought building bridges couldn’t be any worse than farming,” Schreiber said, smiling. “I went up there and got a job on one of the crews building those bridges and worked about six years until we got them built.”
It was hard work, and Schreiber’s job was making sure the concrete got down around the bridge supports completely. If it didn’t, the rebar in the concrete supports could rust, causing the bridge to eventually collapse. It was back-breaking, stressful work, he said.
After the bridges were finished, Schreiber worked at a variety of other jobs and then returned to Jackson County where he farmed up until just this last year.
Starting out farming, the Schreibers raised corn, soybeans and oats. They worked the 300-acre farm near Wilder with a Model A John Deere tractor and, when Malchow wanted to sell, Schreiber tried to buy 80 acres from him.
“All I wanted was 80 acres to farm,” Schreiber said. “I tried to buy 80 from Fred, but he wouldn’t break his farm up.”
The Schreibers purchased a small farm just outside of Lakefield and went into the truck-farming business full time in 1969, raising pumpkins, squash, decorative gourds and melons mostly. They retired in 2016.
The Schreibers still live on their farm and most recently sold off a portion of their land to the city of Lakefield for use as part of the city’s new trail system. The remainder of the farm sits idle now.
“We decided to leave it lay for now,” Schreiber said. “We had alfalfa last year, but want the pheasants and the few deer that are out there to have it.”
Beyond farming, Schreiber taught his kids early on to appreciate nature and care for it, showing them the value of hard work that has served him so well all of his 90 years. Now he is instilling some of those same values in his grandkids, great-grandkids and great-great-grandkids.
“Leonard and I had the opportunity to fly into Canada on float planes and fish several times and we hunted pheasants a lot up by Aberdeen, S.D.,” he said. “We ate a lot of walleye fishing up there for shore lunch and had them for dinner. Hunting pheasants in South Dakota, I never saw so many birds like they have up there — huge flocks of them. It was a great time for Leonard and me.”
Schreiber may have retired from farming, but he is still an avid outdoorsman and is looking forward to putting his fish house out on Loon Lake this winter.

 

Flanagans are Friends of 4-H

John and Kari Flanagan, of rural Garretson, S.D., say 4-H has had a huge impact on their family.
Apparently, 4-H thinks the same about them.
The Flanagans were named the 2017 Rock County Friends of 4-H in November at the annual Rock County 4-H Round-up awards banquet at Luverne High School. Chelsey Asche, Rock County 4-H program coordinator, said each 4-H club in the county nominated candidates for the award and the Rock County 4-H Federation Executive Committee selected the most deserving nominee.
“It was wonderful getting the acknowledgment, but 4-H has given us 100-fold more than we gave it,” Kari said.
The Flanagans involvement in 4-H began around 20 years ago when their oldest daughter, Kelsey, received an invitation in the mail to attend a 4-H meeting in Rock County. They checked it out, and the family quickly became hooked on the program.
The Flanagans said 4-H taught their daughters about leadership, community service and public speaking, and instilled in them a sense of self-confidence.
“It has made my older daughter a much different person,” Kari said. “She went through some interviews and things like that that she would have never done because she was very, very shy when she was young and it kind of brought her out of her box. The youngest one, the leadership opportunities that she’s gotten through 4-H have been phenomenal.”
Their youngest daughter, Moriah, is in her second year as a Minnesota state 4-H ambassador.
“She travels all over the state doing leadership seminars for other 4-H’ers and meeting with dignitaries and welcoming people to the Minnesota State Fair,” Kari said. “She’s met a lot of people, made a lot of contacts and a lot of life-long friends through the program, and earned some great college scholarships as well.”
Kari said Moriah operates the Minnesota 4-H Snapchat and Twitter accounts in her capacity as an ambassador. She’s been a 4-H camp counselor for several years.
“She liked 4-H camp so much, she just kept going,” John said.
Their daughters have also shown goats, horses and other projects over the years. Kelsey is now 28 and lives in Harrisburg, S.D. with her husband Travis. Moriah is an 18-year-old freshman at South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings.
Neither John nor Kari were involved in 4-H as children, but they became quite involved in the program after their children joined. Kari is on the county Federation and Executive boards and John just finished his sixth year as a horse superintendent and has been a goat superintendent for a few years, working with club members who show those animals at the fair. They both have acted as club leaders for the Springdell 4-H Club.
The couple said their involvement in 4-H has been rewarding in that they have been able to help the club members grow and learn new things. It’s also provided them with a wealth of family time and positive experiences over the years, and sparked some of their closest friendships.
The Flanagans live on an acreage southeast of Garretson, S.D. They have horses and goats and grow enough hay to feed their animals.
John is originally from the Garretson area and Kari grew up in Sioux Falls. John works in online sales and customer service for Nordstrom’s Automotive in Garretson and Kari works for Alliance Communications, which provides cable, phone and internet services in portions of South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. Kari also serves on the Garretson school board.