Tag Archives: Agriculture

Thankful I “Was Born In a Small Town” with BIG Opportunities

I am a Central DeWitt Alumni double majoring in Marketing and Event Management at Iowa State University. I proudly tout my I <3 DeWitt koozie with me around Ames and I love having my friends visit my hometown. Although DeWitt is a small town, we have so much to offer! After working at various places in DeWitt, and as Marketing and Events Intern at First Central State Bank this summer, I have had the opportunity to experience many different roles within the community.

When I look back, growing up in DeWitt was perfect. I wouldn’t change ANYTHING. I attended St. Joes K-8th and learned so much about community, being a friend, and being a productive student. As a kid, there were so many ways to be active in DeWitt. Although sports weren’t always my thing, in a small community they were a way to learn how to be a team mate and see community members support each other. 4-H taught me how to work hard, apply myself, and give back to my community.

In high school, I found my passion for business. Mr. Petsche encouraged me to join Future Business Leaders of America and enroll in various business courses. He was an amazing mentor and opened my eyes to all the opportunities DeWitt has for young professionals. Once I reached my senior year of high school, I became the Dewitt Chamber and Development Company’s very first intern. The DCDC now hosts an intern each year and continues to give them the tools necessary to be successful.

Although I have been a Cyclone my entire life, it became real the fall of 2015 when I packed up my belongings and made the trip to Ames to embark on my college journey at Iowa State University. I realized how fortunate I was that my hometown school, Central DeWitt Community School District, provided so many amazing duel credit opportunities.   Because of this I began my college career with a plethora of credits and could jump right into my core business classes and continue on pursuing my dreams. Freshmen are typically told it is hard to get an internship, not impossible but uncommon. I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I had seen various Facebook posts about the Ohnward Leadership Program and was eager to apply.  What’s better than being able to come back to your hometown AND have an adult job?

Guess What?  I got the job! The Ohnward Leadership Program helped me find my strengths and nurture my passion for social media marketing, design, and event planning. Learning about community banks only strengthened my dedication to my hometown and my views of pursuing a career within a small community. I was able to attend many different community based committee meetings for the Central DeWitt Performing Arts Center, DeWitt Chamber & Development Company, LincolnWay Foundation of Greater Dubuque and the DeWitt Crossroads Triathlon. Sitting in on these committee meetings gave me a new perspective on community involvement and a great appreciation for everyone who continues to volunteer their time to make our community thrive.

Fast-forward to THIS year! You may have seen me out and about representing First Central State Bank!  Throughout the summer months I served as a Marketing and Events intern. Aside from managing First Central’s various social media platforms, I assist in the planning and implementation of various events that we sponsor throughout the year.  Having the opportunity to donate my time and efforts into making events like the Clinton County Fair successful and exciting, is extremely rewarding. For example, this year I designed and implemented fun Snapchat filters to use at the fair! This was something outside of the box for First Central.  Piloting this idea at First Central and seeing the results was very exciting and rewarding.  First Central State Bank has been receptive to new ideas, continues to offer opportunities to put ones passion, and interests to work.  This in turn continues to benefit our local communities in various ways.

I have determined through the years that, without exceptional teachers, parents, mentors, and employers I would not be the young professional that I am today. My education and these various local opportunities have shaped my knowledge and experience, but my mentors have encouraged my passions and interests. Ultimately, Central DeWitt Community School District, First Central State Bank, Ohnward Bancshares, Inc., Iowa State University, my friends and family and the DeWitt Community provided me with opportunities for growth.  I will be forever thankful that I was born in a SMALL town with BIG opportunities.

Thank you, DeWitt!

Madeleine Blandin –  Central DeWitt Alumni, Class of 2015                                                                 Junior Double Majoring in Marketing and Event Management at Iowa State University

Fresh Food & Friendly Conversations

At the core of community is the sharing of food.  A farmer’s market is a shared space wherein folks meet face to face and talk about food.  Perhaps this explains why the number of farmer’s markets nationwide have increased from 1755 in 1996 to 8,144 in 2013.  A farmer’s market connects people together.  A farmer’s market provides space for friendly conversations with folks who actually have grown, harvested and prepared food.  Folks at a farmer’s market share not only the food itself, but also information about how the food is grown and prepared.  Shoppers  at a farmer’s market can ask questions and express their preferences in face to face conversations with vendors.

‘Walkable space’ is a term used by city planners and developers to refer to a shared space within community that is accessible on foot.  There’s really nothing new about this concept—in plain English, we call this space a “park”.  Such shared spaces seem to connect people together and enhance the quality of life in a community. Here in DeWitt our farmer’s market is centrally located on the east side of Lincoln Park Thursday afternoons (between 3:30-6:30PM) from May thru October.  Although we struggle from time to time with unpleasant weather, on good days many folks seem to enjoy a walk to the market from their homes.  There is grass, shade, benches, and picnic tables, and a playground nearby.  The DeWitt Farmer’s Market is a relaxing way to get some exercise on a summer afternoon and to visit with neighbors.  It doesn’t cost as much money as some other outdoor entertainment.   It’s truly a nice walk in the park.

John Ivens, Farmers Market Manager

Salute to Volunteers

Each year, thousands of volunteers in Iowa donate their time and energy to make their communities a better place to live. Thirty-three percent (33%) of Iowans volunteer, ranking Iowa tenth among the 50 states (Source Corporation for National Community Service). These volunteers will be among the millions across the country who will be spotlighted during National Volunteer Week, April 23-29, 2017.

Clinton County and DeWitt volunteers pay it forward by dedicating their time and talents to the next generation – an investment that cycles back into our community while building relationships that nourish future generations.  Look around and you’ll see the impact our volunteers make – through the smiles and successes of our youth.  They are rewarded by sharing their experiences, learning new things, and building partnerships, not to mention the fun and fulfillment that volunteering brings to their life.

One group that relies heavily on volunteer support is the 4-H Youth Development Program. Last year in Clinton County, 112 volunteers serve in many roles including 4-H and Clover Kids club leaders, project leaders, and committee members for the 4-H Youth Development Program. 4-H volunteers serve as caring adults who help young people develop communication, citizenship, and leadership skills through 4-H projects and community service opportunities. Volunteers create safe environments for youth to learn, thrive, and grow.

I am truly impressed by the work of the 4-H Club Leaders, many who have been volunteering for over ten years, some over 40 years!  They meet individually with youth to help them with projects, in addition to providing guidance at monthly club meetings.  It is a requirement that 4-H volunteers who work directly with youth attend annual trainings, to network and learn new skills in positive youth development and risk management.

The 4-H program has helped many youth in Clinton County to achieve goals outside of the classroom, while working with a caring adult.  Volunteers in the 4-H program help youth to become engaged in their community, make new friends, and accomplish their goals, which ultimately can deter at-risk youth from making a bad decision.

With an ever-changing world, the 4-H Youth Development program is adapting and offering more opportunities for youth and volunteers in areas such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; Communications and the Arts; Citizenship and Leadership; and Healthy Living. The expanding programming reflects new opportunities for youth and volunteers alike.

The Clinton County Club Show at the fair is a showcase of what projects youth have completed throughout the year  and you will see many animals being showcased during the fair.  Animals are just one of over 150 project areas that youth may participate in.  In every 4-H project you see exhibited at the fair, there is most often an adult volunteer that has mentored the youth along the way with the project — paying it forward to the next generation!

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with us and I encourage you to explore more about Clinton County 4-H Program and volunteer opportunities!

Brianne Johnson – Clinton County 4-H Program Manager with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach –Clinton County

Found My Way Back to the Farm

In 2002, I graduated from Central DeWitt.  I earned an engineering degree from Iowa State and utilized that degree working at a manufacturer in Central Iowa for 6 years.  After 10 years of being away, I moved back to my hometown of DeWitt with my fiancé, Erin. Our decision to move back was rooted in the value of family and opportunity.

Family…there is no better support than family and friends!  When asked where we wanted to raise a family, the answer was fairly simple, “DeWitt“!  It took some time to get here, but it was easy to say that if we were blessed with being parents,  that DeWitt was where we wanted to raise our children.  For us, DeWitt is within a matter of minutes of parents, grandparents, siblings, and cousins.  Having two children, the proximity to this loving network of family and friends, not to mention last-minute babysitters, is great!

DeWitt is a community that has all of the core pillars we believe in: excellent schools, active churches, great local businesses, these are areas we believe to be important.  Some may have changed face in the last decade, but the solid foundation of people and places still remain.  This is home and this community always feel like family.

Opportunity… I grew up on a family farm a few miles east of DeWitt.  Learning the value of hard Mae and Callie SkySharework was easy to grasp when following in the footsteps of my grandfather, father, and older brother.  I learned a much greater appreciation for this lifestyle after moving away and experiencing another shake of life.  The opportunity for me to be able to come back and be a part of the farm operation is something I do not take for granted.  I am blessed to be able to jump on this fast moving train of row-crop agriculture.  Who am I to pass up on such an opportunity?  It has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life.  Three years of conversation and planning took place before coming back to the family farm.  My wife and I farm our own corn and soybean crops within the Niemann family farming operation.  We also own and manage SkyShare, LLC which is an aerial application business that provides custom application of crop care products via aircraft. My family and I have enjoyed the challenge of it all and I am glad to once again call DeWitt home.

Matthew Niemann, DeWitt Family Farmer & owner of SkyShare, LLC

 

FFA – Growing Leaders, Building Communities!

Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man.” A famous quote by George Washington. Often times the importance of agriculture is overlooked or misinterpreted by many who are under informed. To help bridge this gap is the next generation of agriculturists who happen to be sitting in the chairs of high school agriculture education classrooms, like those at Central DeWitt High School.

Only 33% of Iowa’s FFA members live on farms. That means the other 67% live in towns or cities. What an astonishing fact compared to the mere 50 years ago when that statistic in 1967 looked much different! With over 14,700 FFA members in the state representing 232 local chapters, the future of agriculture is in GREAT hands! Stereotypically, some people think FFA is about cows, sows and plows. As those things are extremely important and vital, it is now turning more towards beakers, speakers and job seekers. Statistics show that we are educating kids for careers in laboratories, CEO’s, alternative fuels and even careers that aren’t developed yet! Our FFA chapter currently has 89 active members from grades 8-12 including our out of school members. FFA members are eager to learn and have stepped up to the plate to help promote and advocate for agriculture and FFA; all things they are very passionate about.

The DeWitt Central FFA chapter is celebrating National FFA Week February 18th-25th. The week long tradition started in 1947 when the National Board of Directors designated the week of George Washington’s birthday as National FFA week in recognition of his legacy as an agriculturist and farmer. It also serves as an opportunity for members, alumni and sponsors to promote agriculture education and FFA.   In honor of FFA week, there will be a banner hanging across 11th street, FFA flags flying on 6th Ave. and a billboard on Highway 30 west of Clinton. There will also be many activities going on throughout the week at school for students to participate in.

FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Find more information about DeWitt Central FFA and FFA week on our website at www.dewittcentralffa.com!

Amy Grantz – FFA Advisor & Skylar Bloom – FFA President

Family Farming in Clinton County

I was born 38 years ago into a farming family.  I have fond memories of my childhood on the farm.  I remember helping with sorting pigs back when my dad had a small farrow to finish hog operation.  This means we had sow’s that gave birth to baby pigs and we raised them until maturity and sold them to market.  I also have memories of riding in tractors and the combine that seemed so big and massive at that young age.  Then I moved to town with my mom and spent the majority of my formidable years as a city kid that only had marginal association to the farm.  I give this brief but powerful insight into my childhood because now that I have a family of my own I understand as a father what those experiences and memories mean to me as a father as well as what they mean to my own children.

My family has come a long way from when I was a child when we farrowed those 80-100 sows and raised pigs all while planting 1000 acres of corn and soybeans.  Over the years we have IMG_0126since stopped raising hogs and are now only crop farmers.  Today on an annual basis we plant approximately 6500 acres of corn and soybeans.   I say ‘we’ because our operation consists of 5 families, my dad Gary Willimack and his wife Tamra, Brent and Jessica Willimack and their daughter Addison, Jayson and Megan Willimack and their daughter Greyson, Scott and Kassidy Willimack, and myself Matt Willimack and my wife Amanda and our children Mairead and Owen.

I started farming with my family not long after my work off of the farm allowed us the ability to move back to DeWitt which I call home.  I now work for Grain Processing Corporation in Muscatine, IA in addition to farming with my family.   I started farming with my family because my father Gary has worked hard for many years to build a farming operation that could provide opportunities for his son’s to be a part of production agriculture.  We now all work together for common goals.  Some of those goals are things like:

  • Creating a livelihood for those families involved in the operation
  • Being good stewards of the land, i.e. using technology to be as efficient with things like seed, fertilizer, and chemicals to produce quality grain that helps feed a growing world.
  • Keep land conservation in the forefront.  Strive to leave our mark on the environment as better quality land, water, and air for the next generation.
  • Perpetuating the legacy my Dad and even my grandfather started by giving their children the opportunity to farm.
  • Raising our children to understand and appreciate agriculture and how the food they eat gets to the table.

We take pride in the fact that we continue to be a farming family.  Our business is farming, but we are a family first, and we hope that our farming business stays that way for generations to come.

Matt Willimack, Agriculture Enthusiast

Agriculture Awareness

Driving around the vastness of farm acreage outside DeWitt, one might not realize the esteemed value of the land. Or how our local countryside effects the world.

Fruitful Location. Farming is a global business, and it begins right here on the 1,244 farms in Clinton County. Area farmers have the notable benefit of Iowa’s rich and deep soil, ample water supply and long growing seasons which produce more profitable crops. Corn and soybeans are the two thriving crops, but for over 150 years, corn has been Iowa’s dominant crop, the largest producer of corn in the nation for almost two decades. In Clinton County, 198,000 acres of corn were harvested with an average yield of 186.8 bushels per acre and 109,000 acres of soybeans were harvested with an average yield of 50.8 bushels per acre.

The soil isn’t the only local benefit. Here around DeWitt, local farmers have access to major Midwestern and global markets. DeWitt’s crossroads allow farmers the ease to export their harvest and livestock by truck, rail or river to local and global processing plants, which are used across the world for food, fuel, fiber and feed.

Local support comes from the Clinton County Farm Bureau, located in DeWitt, which is dedicated to helping farm families prosper and improve their quality of life. Financial support such as Farm Credit Services of America, First Central State Bank and DeWitt Bank & Trust Company, all located in DeWitt, offer farmers operating lines of credit, livestock loans, equipment financing, and real estate loans to name a few.

Technology. Agriculture businesses such as Park Farms Computer Systems, Ag Spectrum Company, River Valley Co-Op and Kunau Implement Company in DeWitt provide farmers with valuable cutting-edge technologies and education based on proven scientific research. Tractors with GPS systems. Drones capturing pictures and video of crop health. Nutritional systems that address the basic science of plant and soil health. Farmers depend on local business services to offer high-tech equipment and new technology to help increase crop yields and efficiency. An essential outcome when agriculture is responsible to feed today’s world population of 7.3 billion people.

Because of this technology and better understanding of crop management, today’s farmer is more efficient and better stewards of the land. For example, in 1990, one acre of corn fed two head of cattle. Today, 1 acre of corn feeds 1.9 head of cattle, creates 580 gallons of ethanol, 27 gallons of corn oil, and 1.7 tons of CO2 for industrial use.

Economic Impact. Clinton County is an economic powerhouse when it comes to agriculture. There are 417,189 acres of farm land, with the average size farm at 335 acres.

In Clinton County, there are over 70,000 cattle and calves and more than 56,000 hogs and pigs in inventory. 1.7% of all jobs in the county came from livestock production and the market value of livestock sold was $112.7 million. The market value of crops grown was $286.6 million with 17.7% of all jobs in Clinton County coming from crop production.

Overall, agriculture-related industries produce 8,887 jobs, contributing $524 million in wages and over $4.8 million in total sales in Clinton County.

The next time you drive around the rolling hills of farm land outside DeWitt, appreciate the vastness of the rich, deep soil. The livestock managers, agronomists, and scientists we call farmers. And the impact it reaches on a local, regional and global level.

Explore more about how DeWitt Delivers Agriculture!