A Summer with MAWRC

Note: This blog post recounts the experience of Minnesota Farm Bureau intern Maddie Schafer, who helped out at several MAWRC summer events. Our thanks to Minnesota Farm Bureau for providing this support, and to Maddie for providing feedback and assistance.


When was the last time you did something for the first time? This is a question we often ask ourselves on my family’s farm. Change, innovation, and advancement can be big and often times frightening words to think about, but they are crucial elements towards having a sustainable farm that can withstand the pressures of farm life.

More than five years ago, Schafer Farms was asked a question from the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center (MAWRC) about the possibility of making our farm a Discovery Farm through the Discovery Farms project. Seeing the potential to know exactly what kind of sediment and nutrient losses occur on both our fields and our cattle pastures made it easy to respond to them with a “yes!” Since that day, we have been able to know what we were doing well and what needed to improve upon. Because of that, we have made several changes for continuous improvement to be more environmentally responsible, and we are a stronger farm because of it.

Being the 7th generation for Schafer Farms, agriculture has been instilled in me since the day I was born. I currently am a sophomore at South Dakota State University studying Agricultural Communications and Leadership with hopes to make a career in sharing my farming story with consumers who don’t know what truly goes on around a farm. This past summer, I was fortunate enough to do an internship with Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, and with that, I was also able to work with MAWRC to expand my knowledge even further. MAWRC held several water tours throughout the summer, including in the Red River Valley and down by the Root River in the southeastern part of the state.

With each of these tours, I realized just how fortunate I truly am to have grown up in agriculture. I was treated like family wherever I went. Not only did they include me in what was going on, but they really made sure to go out of their way to make me feel like a true guest of honor. Those are the things we each need to remember when thinking about agriculture. Yes, agriculture is about feeding you and your family through safe and sustainable practices, but it is so much more than that. Agriculture is about family ties, passion, dedication and doing what is right not because you will gain anything from it, but because it is just the right thing to do.

Agriculture is an amazing community that does a lot of amazing things for the world around us, but there is always room for improvement. That is why we at Schafer Farms are so thankful for MAWRC and all of the things they do to support, represent and assist farmers. So let me ask this again. When was the last time you did something for the first time? If you can’t name one off the top of your head, then perhaps it’s time you stopped with the status quo and take the time to do something you’ve never done before.

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