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February 5, 2024
Jacob and Jennifer Hoewisch of Fremont were selected as the 2024 Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmers during the 70th annual OYF awards weekend Jan. 26-27.
As long as Jacob can remember, he has wanted to be a farmer. When he was in fourth grade, his father and uncle decided to combine their dairy herds and build a freestall barn and milking parlor, creating Hoewisch Homestead Dairy LLC.
The same year, Jacob’s parents chose to homeschool him, which allowed him more time to learn and observe what was happening on the farm while also concentrating on his studies. That opened the door for Jacob to begin working toward his goal of joining the family business. Since taking over the management of the farm, he has added cover crops and transitioned to no-till. As a result, everything on the farm is now green all year.
On the dairy side of things, Jacob experimented with breeding the cows with A1 genetics to beef. In 2018 he started genomically testing the herd using tissue samples and using that information to decide which animals to breed to beef. This led to the milking herd becoming A2/A2 status and opened an opportunity to direct-market beef.
The couple are active in the Waupaca County Farm Bureau. They are also Wisconsin Farm Bureau state committee members, and Jacob served as county Young Farmer and Agriculturist program chair from 2011 to 2021. Both are youth group leaders at their church. Jacob is a member of the Township of Caledonia farmer-led watershed group and serves on the Fox Valley Technical College Advisory Committee.
The Hoewisches were sponsored by United Veterinary Services, GreenStone Farm Credit Services, Swiderski Equipment, Service Motor Co., Beck’s and Farm First Co-op.
Matt and Heather Reu were named the Speak Up for Ag winners as well as Wisconsin OYF runners-up. The Reus farm near Fort Atkinson, growing crops on more than 5,000 acres and raising beef cattle. The Reus were sponsored by Insight FS, Sauk Valley Bank and Alcivia.
Other finalists were:
Abby Driscoll, Newton, sponsored by St. Anna Veterinary Clinic, Sartori, CP Feeds and GreenStone FCS
Mitch and McKenzie Kappelman, Manitowoc, sponsored by CP Feeds, GreenStone FCS, VanderLinden Custom Services LLC and Country Visions Cooperative
Scott and Katy Kohn, Medford, sponsored by Taylor Electric Cooperative and Grassland Dairy
Ryan and Lacey Wendt, Pound, sponsored by Riesterer and Schnell, Cornette Farm Supply/Vita Plus, Seed Concepts and Valley Veterinary Clinic
Judges for the event were Maria Bendixen, Cowculations Consulting LLC; John Brunnquell, Egg Innovations founder, 1997 Wisconsin OYF winner and 1998 National OYF winner; and Jennifer Peal, vice president, relationship manager, agricultural banking, BMO. The master of ceremonies for the awards banquet was Bob Meyer, retired farm director for Goetz Farm Radio Network and 2023 inductee to the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
In addition to networking events and the awards portion of the program, OYF finalists participated in ag forums and hands-on training on farm safety and farm mapping, which was led by Pittsville Fire Department Chief Jerry Minor. They also toured Food+Farm Exploration Center in Plover, Wis. After touring the facility, they met with premium sponsor Riesterer and Schnell. The tour concluded in the Cooking Lab at Food+Farm Exploration Center.
The 2024 event was held at Hotel Mead, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. The hosts for this year’s event were Travis and Melissa Marti from Vesper, Wis. Next year, the Hoewisches will host the Wisconsin OYF awards weekend in January at a central Wisconsin location.
Wisconsin has finalists for the 2024 National OYF Awards, to be held Feb. 15-18 in Ferndale, Wash. 2023 Wisconsin OYF Runners-up Brody and Carolyn Stapel of Cedar Grove, Wis., are finalists for the 2024 National OYF Award.
The Outstanding Young Farmer Program began in 1954 as a national program for the U.S. Jaycees. Wisconsin’s first winner was named in 1952, and 70 state programs have been held since. Wisconsin has had 22 national winners during the program’s history. Visit wi-oyf.org to learn more or submit a nomination or an application form.
Wisconsin Agriculturist Editor
Even though Fran was born and raised on a farm in Illinois, she has spent most of her life in Wisconsin. She moved to the state when she was 18 years old and later graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a bachelor's degree in journalism.
Fran has 25 years of experience writing, editing and taking pictures. Before becoming editor of the Wisconsin Agriculturist in 2003, she worked at Johnson Hill Press in Fort Atkinson as a writer and editor of farm business publications and at the Janesville Gazette in Janesville as farm editor and feature writer. Later, she signed on as a public relations associate at Bader Rutter in Brookfield, and served as managing editor and farm editor at The Reporter, a daily newspaper in Fond du Lac.
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