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February 3, 2020
Philip and Laura Finger of Oconto were selected as the Wisconsin 2020 Outstanding Young Farmers during the 66th annual OYF awards weekend, held Jan. 24-26 in Chippewa Falls, Wis.
Philip is the fifth generation to farm on his family’s farm. The Fingers farm 1,900 acres and milk 540 cows. Philip’s passion is genetics, while Laura takes care of the calves. The Fingers will host their county Breakfast on the Farm in 2022, which is the 150th anniversary of their family farm.
The Fingers are sponsored by Genex, Valley Vet and Vita Plus.
The first runner-up is Katy Schultz of Fox Lake. Schultz is a partner in Tri-Fecta Farms Inc. She is also the Speak Up for Agriculture Award winner. Schultz is sponsored by Ballweg Equipment, Compeer Financial, Vita Plus and Waupun Equipment.
Jeremy and Heather Natzke of Green Leaf are the second runners-up. Jeremy is the fifth generation on his family farm, Wayside Dairy. They are sponsored by CP Feeds, GPS Dairy Consulting, GreenStone Farm Credit Services, Luxemburg-Casco Jaycees, and Riesterer and Schnell.
Other finalists include:
Kelly Fruit of Viola, sponsored by Advanced Dairy Solutions, Compeer Financial, McNess and Nelson Agriculture Center
John and Chase Pagel of Kewaunee, sponsored by Boeringer-Ingelheim, GPS Dairy Consulting, GreenStone FCS, Lallemand, Luxemburg-Casco Jaycees, Micro Technologies, and Riesterer and Schnell
Laura and Tyler Raatz of Oconto Falls, sponsored by CP Feeds, GreenStone FCS, Oconto Falls Insurance Center, and Riesterer and Schnell
Judges for the event were Steve Bodart of Elk Mound, a senior dairy consultant with Compeer Financial; Lyssa Seefeldt, Eau Claire County Extension agriculture agent; and Sam Zimmerman of Ringle, a past Wisconsin OYF state winner and national OYF winner who operates On-Q Holsteins LLC near Wausau. The awards banquet master of ceremonies was Scott Schultz, farm broadcaster with WAXX radio.
An ag forum training session for the candidates was led by Trisha Wagner and area ag agents/educators with Daphne Holterman, past Wisconsin OYF state winner and national OYF winner, on Jan. 24. Candidates also toured area businesses, including Seibel’s Organic Dairy in Bloomer and Leinenkugel’s Brewery in Chippewa Falls.
Diamond Sponsors of the OYF event are Compeer Financial, GreenStone FCS, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Micro Technologies, USAgNet, Vita Plus, Wayside Dairy/Dan and Barb Natzke, and Professional Dairy Producers, which awarded the finalists a membership and registration to the annual PDPW Business Conference.
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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