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Building Structure for Farmer-to-Farmer Education Requires Time, Determination

2023 Conservation Ag Fellow finds bringing people together isn’t as easy as it seems

Around 5:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night in September, no-tiller Loran Steinlage arrives at The Drake Piano Bar in Prairie du Chien, Wis., about an hour away from his West Union, Iowa, operation. A meet and greet event at the bar is the first stop in a whirlwind week of events for the 2023 Conservation Ag Operator Fellow, who spent the summer organizing a group to carry on the late David Brandt’s vision for a farmer-to-farmer learning center in southwestern Wisconsin

“I've been asked to lead this whole thing,” Steinlage says. “I don't feel I'm capable of leading it, but I'm doing the best I can here. When you are asked to lead a man's vision posthumously, that's a pretty tall order.”

Accompanied by his wife, Brenda, and son, Rolan, the Steinlage family is spending the week focused on carrying on Brandt’s wishes and the heart of FLOLO Farms’ mission: bringing people together.

“The biggest thing I would stress is we have to do it in a positive fashion because I’ve never seen anybody shame somebody into change,” Steinlage says. 

Community Partnerships

Back at The Drake, Steinlage orders a Cold Brew Bourbon from Karyl Fritsche, a NRCS resource conservationist he’s worked with for years.

“She’s one of the good ones,” he jokes as he takes a drink of the cocktail, which is made with spirits and sweet cream from local farmers. 

The bar is one of three businesses that Fritsche runs in addition to her day job with the NRCS…

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Michaela paukner

Michaela Paukner

Michaela Paukner is the managing editor of No-Till Farmer, Strip-Till Farmer and Cover Crop Strategies. Her previous journalism experience includes working as a reporter for a legal magazine and as a producer for two Wisconsin TV news stations. She has also worked with clients across the globe as a freelance writer and marketing consultant, and as a brand manager for a Wisconsin-based boutique marketing agency. She's a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

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