Katie Wantoch has been promoted to state Extension farm administration outreach specialist in Wisconsin. Beforehand, she labored because the Dunn County Extension agriculture agent for the previous 12 years.
Since 2012, Wisconsin Agriculturist readers have gotten to know Wantoch because the Extension agent who solutions readers’ farm administration questions within the month-to-month Agrivision column with Sheboygan County, Wis., dairy and grain farmer Tom Kestell and Sam Miller, head of ag lending for BMO Harris Banks.
“It’s good to have the ability to increase past Dunn County and deal with monetary administration training,” Wantoch says. “That’s my background. I’m trying ahead to working with farmers from throughout Wisconsin.”
Wantoch grew up on a 55-cow registered Holstein dairy farm in Wooden County, Wis., that’s nonetheless farmed by her father, Paul Sternweis, and her brother Brad Sternweis.
Whereas rising up, Wantoch helped with chores on the farm and was energetic in 4-H and FFA. She loved exhibiting dairy cattle at county and state gala’s and district reveals.
After graduating from highschool, Wantoch attended the College of Wisconsin-Madison, the place she majored in agricultural enterprise administration. A Renk Agribusiness Scholar, Wantoch had a number of internships in school, together with one with M&I Financial institution. She was employed by M&I after she obtained her bachelor’s diploma in 2003. She labored as an ag lender for seven years within the Eau Claire, Wis., space.
“It was an important coaching program evaluating collateral, auditing and dealing with mortgage documentation,” she says. Whereas working at M&I, Wantoch accomplished a Grasp’s in Enterprise Administration diploma in finance at Lakeland College.
Immediately, Wantoch and her husband, Jonathon, personal J/Ok Ranch close to Colfax, Wis., the place they farm 175 acres and personal a Charolais cow-calf operation with 45 cows. They develop corn, soybeans and grass hay. Jonathon additionally works full time as an agronomy supervisor with Synergy Cooperative in Ridgeland, Wis. The Wantochs have three youngsters, Gabriella, 9, and twins Broderik and Dalila, 5.
“Gabriella began exhibiting beef cattle this yr, so it’s a complete new studying curve for us,” Wantoch says.
Wantoch is one in every of two new state Extension farm administration outreach specialists employed this summer season. Her focus can be on monetary and danger administration whereas Stephanie Plaster is specializing in enterprise strategic administration. Wantoch and Plaster be a part of three different state Extension farm administration specialists: Leonard Polzin, who’s specializing in dairy markets and coverage; Jim Versweyveld, who focuses on human sources, worker security and well being; and Pleasure Kirkpatrick, who focuses on farm succession and farm stress.
“We’ll present instructional applications round these subjects,” Wantoch explains. “Throughout COVID, I began exploring on-line educating. I’m finishing a monetary administration and evaluation course that may assist farmers create their very own monetary statements. Doing it on-line permits farmers to be taught at their very own tempo and when it’s handy for them. We’ve got found that right now’s farmers typically don’t have time to attend a three- to four-hour assembly.”
Wantoch says the format is interactive and consists of quizzes so farmers know they actually do perceive what they’re studying.
“We actually need the [Farm Service Agency offices], the banks and the credit score unions to encourage their farmers to take these programs,” Wantoch says. “Subsequent yr, I can be engaged on one other on-line course for danger administration and grain advertising and marketing. The grain advertising and marketing session may be a mixture of in-person conferences and on-line studying.”
Conferences could also be held the place there are sufficient farmers who wish to be taught or have an curiosity.
”Possibly it’s a gaggle of Wisconsin Corn or Soybean Growers or a financial institution’s shoppers who wish to find out about grain advertising and marketing,” Wantoch says.
She says she is making an attempt to design the web programs so the learner clicks by this system and completes it, and is ready to apply what they realized to their farming operation.
“On-line studying is tougher than in-person studying, however it’s handy for them so long as they’ve the expertise to do it,” Wantoch explains. “There may be much more upfront planning than whenever you current a course in individual. With in-person studying, you may see when there are questions, so that you decelerate and may reply them in actual time. You may’t do this with on-line studying. So you must anticipate the place they might want extra rationalization.”
Wantoch says Extension can also be exploring working with specialty crop producers like cranberry growers to see what their wants are and the way Extension can present training to assist them.
“In future years, I wish to be certain that we’ve got studying alternatives for ladies in agriculture and different specialty farmers, like Hmong growers,” she says. “As I progress in my job, we’ll see what that may appear like. My purpose is to ensure farmers are worthwhile and viable for the longer term.”
Farmers can e mail Wantoch at [email protected] or name her at 608-354-3992 if they’ve a query.