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2024 Honorary Master Agriculturist from Oconto, Wis., enjoys farming and sharing what he learns about agriculture with others.

Harlen Persinger

March 11, 2024

5 Min Read
David and Loudes Schneider
AWARD WINNER: David Schneider of Oconto, Wis., is the first Honorary Wisconsin Master Agriculturist. He is pictured with his wife, Lourdes.COURTESY OF SCHNEIDER FAMILY

David Schneider of Oconto, Wis., is a self-described “lifelong learner” who enjoys farming and sharing his knowledge about agriculture with others. He also is an active volunteer in a variety of community organizations and programs.

The 57-year-old has grown his farm through a step-by-step process by following his passions of family, God, agriculture, learning and teaching others. His efforts have led to him being selected as the first Honorary Wisconsin Master Agriculturist.

Schneider grew up gardening and working at Titus Farms, a vegetable operation near his hometown of Grayslake in northeastern Illinois. He also spent time on his uncle’s farm in nearby Huntley, Ill., where beef cattle, chickens, hay and corn were raised, as well as at his grandfather’s farm, where he helped care for more than 500 honeybee hives.

With his heart and mind set on a farming career, Schneider started saving with hopes of someday purchasing his own farm. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he had accumulated enough cash for a down payment and bought 35 acres near Oconto. His livestock inventory consisted of three Red Angus heifers and a bull.


Through a love of farming and self-motivation, Schneider gained more equity by adding machinery and expanding his farm to 102 owned acres. He also rents 60 acres nearby to produce hay and corn and manage livestock on pasture.

Related:2024 Wisconsin Master Agriculturists announced

“We are a small family diversified farm, and it takes all of us working together as a team on a daily basis to achieve success,” Schneider says. “I helped raise 14 children, of which eight are grandkids, and they all have the enjoyment of many aspects involving agriculture. My wife, Lourdes, is the bedrock base for the entire family and is simply the heartbeat to all that happens.”

The couple has four children: David, Charles, Donna and Corina.

Hands-on farming experience teamed with a formal education played a pivotal role in helping Schneider produce food and help people to feed themselves.

He has an associate of science degree from the College of Lake County in Illinois, an advanced dairy science management certificate from the University of Illinois, a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business management, and a master’s degree in agricultural science-integrated resource management from Colorado State University.

He is currently working on a doctoral of management, organizational leadership agricultural influence degree from the University of Phoenix. He also completed a certificate from the Ranching for Profit School by Ranch Management Consultants.

On the farm

Besides the 92-head cow-calf operation comprised of Red Angus and Herefords, Schneider’s livestock enterprise includes 45 pigs, 150 chickens and 50 beehives.

His breeding program incorporates AI, embryo transfer and natural breeding. The forage management plan uses cell grazing, with managed rotational grazing and hayfield production of round bales for winter feeding. Calf sales at the local auction barn in the fall provide a major source of income.

He purchases feeder pigs and raises them to market weight. Two groups are finished out at six-month intervals and marketed locally. The chicken operation involves a free-range environment, with eggs sold locally to bring in a weekly income stream that lasts from April to November.

Cash crops of wheat, oats, corn and hay are either sold or used on the farm. 

Schneider likes to share what he has learned with others. He has held educational seminars with more than 112,000 people in three different industries in 12 countries and throughout the U.S.

For example, he facilitated a weeklong dairy tour across Wisconsin for industry professionals from Spain and Portugal. He also created the curriculum, organized and facilitated an ag training seminar for the Dominican Republic. He has taught ag topics in several cities in China and Nicaragua. He also taught a two-day international seminar at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point during World Dairy Expo.

Partnering with community organizations plays a predominant role in Schneider’s life. He volunteers at Kingdom Come, a local food pantry, and is the coordinator for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Agriculture in the Classroom program for schools in Oconto County.

As a graduate of the Leadership Wisconsin program, he helps other leaders broaden their understanding of local, state and national issues, and expand their network to engage people in creating positive change.

In the community

Since March 2020, Schneider has been active in AmeriCorps and the Farm to School program as a farm-to-school educational specialist for the Howard-Suamico School District. He believes this program matches his personal mission in life.

“My mission from God is: Feed my people and teach them how to feed themselves,” Schneider says. “As a farmer-rancher, I produce food for people from all five food groups. Doubling up as an educator, I highly enjoy learning and teaching and doing anything related to agriculture.”

His involvement with this program ensures people have access to wholesome and safe food. 

“Farmers and ranchers work extremely hard to produce agricultural products for people. Producing and utilizing local foods benefits communities and farmers,” he says.

“Through AmeriCorps, the public sector can learn how to raise and grow agricultural products themselves,” Schneider adds. “People need someone to teach and show them how to do it all. Some food types that don’t fall into one of the five food groups can be valuable too, like honey and syrup.

“With this program I’m able to share with others the value of a healthy lifestyle that stems from different types of agriculture and from eating a wide variety of foods, in combination with physical activity, personal wellness and happiness in life. Daily activity is very important for a healthy life.”

Valuable contributions

In 2016, UW-Extension and Leadership Wisconsin presented Schneider with the Alva Rankin Award for leadership. In 2022, he was named Ameri-Corps Member of the Year.

“I have a deep, burning passion for all agriculture endeavors, and truly look forward to challenges that may come my way in the future,” Schneider says. “Planning, organizing and developing the farm to set up for future generations with an outlook of sustainability has been my biggest challenge.” 

Persinger writes from Milwaukee.

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