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Oconto fifth generation farmers chosen as Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmers

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Philip and Laura Finger, of Oconot, were chosen as the 2020 Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year during an awards event on Jan. 24-26 in Chippewa Falls.

Phil and Laura Finger were honored be nominated for Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF), let alone be named a finalist. They were shocked and grateful to be announced as the winner, “especially because of the quality of the other contestants.”

“These people are all passionate about taking care of their animals and being excellent stewards of the land,” said Phil.

Katy Schultz, of Fox Lake, was first runner up and Jeremy and Heather Natzke, of Green Lake, were second runner up at an annual awards event in Chippewa Falls, Jan. 24-26.

Katy Schultz, of Fox Lake, was the Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer 1st runner up and the Speak Up for Agriculture award winner during an awards event held in Chippewa Falls, Jan. 24-26, 2020.

Fingers were among producers from six state farms considered for the Outstanding Young Farmer award, presented annually to a farmer or farmers ages 21-40.

Phil and Laura, the fifth generation on the Finger Family Farm, both have bachelor’s degrees in dairy science. The last couple of years they hit a goal of shipping 7 pounds of components a day and are aiming for their next goal of 7.5 pounds of components.

The family farm, which has been in existence since 1872, currently includes a total of 1900 crop acres and 540 cows. The Fingers work together as a team, as Philip’s passion is genetics, while Laura’s passion is calves, complimenting each other along the way.

The Fingers will be hosting their county Breakfast on the Farm in 2022 which is the 150th Anniversary of their family farm.

While Phil and Laura were humbled by the honor of being chosen as the winner, “It could have been any one of us there,” Phil said. “We think it speaks volumes about the quality of producers in Wisconsin that many deserving farmers can represent the state and the industry. Each and every one of us there take prides in our vision of what it means to be modern dairy producers while holding on to ethical practices and values.

Related:Six young farmers vie for Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer award

Schultz  is a partner in the Tri-Fecta Farms, Inc. Schultz also was chosen as the "Speak Up for Agriculture" winner. She has had the opportunity to travel abroad immersing herself in the culture of many countries while educating them on America’s diverse agriculture.

Jeremy and Heather Natzke, of Green Leaf, were the 2nd runner up for the Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer award. The winners were presented awards curing the annual awards weekend in Chippeq Falls held Jan. 24-26, 2020.

Jeremy and Heather are fifth generation farmers on Jeremy's family farm, Wayside Dairy. 

The weekend event included an Ag Forum training session for the candidates led by Trisha Wagner and area Ag Agents/Educators with Daphne Holterman, past Wisconsin OYF State Winner and National OYF Winner on Friday afternoon. Candidates also toured area businesses including:  Seibel’s Organic Dairy in Bloomer and Leinenkugel’s Brewery in Chippewa Falls.

The Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer finalists gathered for the 66th annual awards weekend in Chippewa Fall, Jan. 24-26. Pictured, from front left, are Katy Schultz, Laura Finger, Laura Raatz, Heather Natzke, Chase Pagel; back from left, Kelly Fruit, Philip Finger, Tyler Raatz, Jeremy Natzke and John "JJ" Pagel.

The winners, Fingers, will be nominated to attend the national OYF in Appleton on Feb. 408, 2021. 

Next month the national OYF Congress will be held in Westbrook, CT. Adam and Chrissy Seibel, of Bloomer, will be representing Wisconsin as one of the Top 10 Finalists for the National OYF Award. 

Carol Spaeth-Bauer at 262-875-9490 or carol.spaeth-bauer@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at cspaethbauer or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carol.spaethbauer.