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The Wisconsin State Farmer has some new editors at the helm.

Colleen Kottke, who has been associate editor for most of the past two years is now the editor of the Wisconsin State Farmer, succeeding Carla Gunst, who is stepping down to focus on her family and farm after 27 years as editor.

In addition, Carol Spaeth-Bauer, who has been reporting for 20 years, will take Kottke’s position as associate editor of the Wisconsin State Farmer, effective this week.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to Carla for devoting the best years of her life toward ensuring the Wisconsin State Farmer was the best agricultural newspaper in the state. She is one of the hardest working editors I have ever seen in my career,” said Scott Peterson, editor-in-chief of Journal Community Publishing Group.

“There is no question Carla’s knowledge and work ethic will be missed, but I have confidence Colleen will continue to lead the Farmer in a positive direction. I am already getting the sense that Colleen has some interesting new ideas for the future of the Farmer and I am excited to see those develop in the months and years ahead.”

Gunst looked back fondly on her career, mentioning the 25 years she spent working with Jan Shepel (whom Kottke succeeded and who continues to be a contributing writer to the Farmer), and all the people she met at World Dairy Expo and Farm Technology Days.

“I can’t believe how many youths I have interviewed that are either running their own business, working in the agriculture industry or running their own farms,” Gunst said.

But in the end, the pressing needs of her own family farm and her children necessitated cutting back from essentially three full time jobs to one.

“I will be working full time on our family farm, Wilstar Holsteins in Pine River, where my husband. Willis, and I oversee an operation consisting of 60 cows and 100 head of youngstock. I am looking forward to also spending more time with our 10-year-old twins,” said Gunst, wishing Kottke the best of luck.

Kottke and her husband and his brothers and their wives run a family farm in the Fond du Lac area. Her journalism career began freelancing for 12 years while raising her four sons. In 2001, she became full-time for The Reporter in Fond du Lac. At The Reporter, she was Waupun bureau chief and subsequently reported on other issues, including investigative stories, along with managing the paper’s farm page.

“I really enjoyed working with Carla for these past two years and having the opportunity to serve the agricultural community by providing news that is timely and relevant to them,” Kottke said. “I had big shoes to fill when Jan left and now Carla. Both of these ladies were great mentors and have forged many lasting relationships with readers, industry leaders and youth. What a great legacy to build on.”

Spaeth-Bauer makes her home in Mukwonago, where she worked at the Chief for the past 20 years writing stories and taking photos for the weekly newspaper. Spaeth-Bauer grew up on a dairy farm in Washington County. The oldest of four girls, she worked on the farm into her mid 20’s. Before moving away to go to school, get married and raise a family.

“I’m excited to be part of such a large publication that serves an important industry in the state and to bring my photographic skills to help the paper expand its offering of photos and video,” she said.

Peterson said he is confident the Wisconsin State Farmer is in good hands. “Both of these fine journalists really understand the importance of farming, hard work and the valuable role the Wisconsin State Farmer plays in knitting together the agricultural community of America’s Dariyland. They are also both forward thinking, which will open a lot of opportunities as the Wisconsin State Farmer continues to broaden its reach beyond the printed product to greater online and social-media presence,” he said.

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