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Wisconsin State Farmer wins 5 awards from state newspaper contest

Wisconsin State Farmer
Evan Schrauth milks Sabrina, the productive progeny of his very first cow given to him when he was in 8th grade.

The Wisconsin State Farmer won five statewide journalism awards in the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's annual journalism contest.

The WNA Foundation announced the results of its 2019 Better Newspaper Contest on Friday.

Editor Colleen Kottke and Associate Editor Carol Spaeth-Bauer won first place honors in the highly competitive enterprise/interpretive category for their three-part series "Farming into the Future" that explores the opportunities for farmers to be successful in the agricultural industry despite the economic challenges. 

The series spotlighted an aspiring young farmer, who against all odds, was able to secure financing for a farm and has found success when many were betting against him.

The writers also delved into a family dairy operation that made a decision nearly 20 years ago that changed the trajectory of their business. When the Crave brothers of Waterloo wondered how they would take their dairy operation into the future in order to bring more family members on board, instead of just milking cows and farming more land, they decided to take the business in a totally different direction by building their own cheese factory.

The third story in the series focused young college graduate Jacki Moegenburg who wanted to find her niche on the family’s West Bend farm. That desire developed into the successful agritourism business Roden Barnyard Adventures

Colleen Kottke
Carol Spaeth Bauer

Kottke also captured second place in the local column division. Judges connected with her trio of columns that explored family traditions around her family's kitchen table and establishing a connection across the generations during the holidays as well as her kite flying adventures with her border collie Jack.

The Wisconsin State Farmer editor also placed third in the features division with her story about Alto teen Liz Wetzel's desire to return the kindness paid to her family following a 2018 tornado that destroyed the family's dairy farm. Wetzel's plan to donate the proceeds from the sale of her grand champion lamb back to the Alto area community left her speechless and in tears when buyers at the small Alto Fair ran up bids totaling over $4,200 for her 124-lb. lamb.

Liz Wetzel is all smiles as she leads her lamb in front of the judge in the show ring.

Kottke also earned honorable mention in the features division for her story about how a group of Fond du Lac County livestock project members made lasting friendships with three special needs youth during the fair's first-ever A Special Final Drive.

The inaugural event was modeled after the "All for One" show at the Wisconsin State Fair, where FFA and 4-H youth are partnered with youth with cognitive and/or physical disabilities, giving them the opportunity to show a pig at the fair while being taught the showmanship skills by the young leaders.

Kottke also received honorable mention in the business writing category. Kottke's stories featured determined, young farmer Evan Schrauth's foray into the dairy industry and how the Crave Brothers addition of a cheese plant on their dairy farm has not only helped diversify their operation, but has helped it to remain profitable. The third story in the series features Oakfield natives the Held brothers whose family business shearing sheep is now reaching into the third generation.