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Farmfest Women of the Year Panel 2021

Farmfest is an annual celebration of all things agriculture (including Farm Women), which takes place in Morgan, MN. On the final day of Farmfest, many families and individuals are honored as being top farmers in the state of Minnesota. This includes the highly esteemed award, Farmfest Farm Woman of the Year. 

Farmfest producers have created the Farmfest Woman Farmer of the Year award to honor hard-working female farmers across Minnesota who selflessly give their time to growing crops and raising livestock on the farm.

2020 Winner, Sarah Kuschel

Sarah Kuschel received the 2020 Farmfest Farm Woman of the Year. From Sabeka, MN, Sarah stays busy with growing crops, raising cattle, equine, and 3 children. Along with spending 40 hours a week on the farm. During her ranch time on Rocking K Ranch, she contributes to animal care, herd health and records, breeding stock selection, payroll and office administration, parts runner, and organizing the work crew.

Sarah is also a Regional Curriculum Specialist for Minnesota Ag in the Classroom (MAITC). This role works with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture MAITC Education Specialists to train and support educators across Minnesota in the use of MAITC standards-based lessons, hands-on activities and provide professional development across Minnesota. 

Moderating the Panel in 2021

As the 2020 winner, Sarah Kuschel moderated the panel this year (2021). As Sarah guided the panelists through the discussion, she noticed a theme coming to light. “Really the panelists encouraged everyone to find mentors in Agriculture and not being afraid to just do it and dive into those things that interest you.”

Some of the prompts of this panel included: “What do you think that women bring to the farm operation that is imperative to its success?” and “How would you consider young women who are just getting started in the Ag industry?”

In the Running

Erica Sawatzke and Wanda Patsche are the two finalists for this year’s Farm Woman of the Year. Both finalists have roots in Minnesota Ag in the Classroom as well as many accomplishments with their own farms.

Erica Sawatzke is a turkey, corn and soybean farmer from Farwell, Minnesota. In addition to spending 60+ hours a week on the farm, Erica and her husband, Eric, raise their one-year old daughter Emma. Erica works tirelessly on her family’s 5th generation farm, Oakdale Farms. Erica also is a Board Member for MAITC and a former chair of Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation. 

Wanda Patsche is a corn, soybean and hog farmer on her Welcome, Minnesota farm. She and her husband have three daughters and seven grandchildren. Although Wanda didn’t grow up farming, it certainly became her passion. Wanda is an Agvocate and was a former Regional Curriculum Specialist of Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation.

Hats Off

Minnesota agriculture has a long history and would not be where it is today without the strong and dedicated women of this state. The Farmfest Woman Farmer of the Year Award honors those female farmers all across Minnesota who selflessly contribute to growing crops and the raising of livestock needed to feed the world. Women often wear multiple hats, tirelessly contributing to the farm, participating in the community, raising children, or working outside of the home. These commitments make it apparent how important women are to not only Minnesota agriculture, but to agriculture everywhere. 

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