Matt Schonrock feels lucky coming back home to farm
Growing up, Matt Schonrock, of Winnebago, was pretty sure of what he wanted to do in life.
But, his father, Steve, had one demand.
“My dad said I had to go to college and get my degree first,” the younger Schonrock says. “You know, in case the ‘farming thing’ doesn’t work out, I’ll have something to fall back on.”
So far, though, the ‘farming thing’ has been working out quite well.
“This is just what I want to do,” Matt says. “I really love it.”
Schonrock was a standout athlete at Blue Earth Area High School, lettering in three sports and was named all-conference in football and basketball.
After graduating in 1998, Matt followed his father’s wishes and went to college at Bethel in Arden Hills, St/ Paul, where he played basketball.
“I graduated in 2002 with a degree in business, marketing and finance,” Schonrock says. “While there, I worked an internship for American Financial Marketing Company.”
It was an office job, working with finance, and was for one year.
“I quickly learned a desk job was not for me,” says Schonrock. “I came back home to Winnebago and my family’s farm.”
He started working with his father after returning home and five years ago he was able to purchase 600 acres of his own.
“We farm 2,200 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa,” Matt says. “Plus, about 40 acres of peas for Seneca in Blue Earth.”
But, that isn’t the only farm operation the Schonrock father/son team handle.
“Dad has a seed dealership for DeKalb called Country Farm Services,” Matt Schonrock says. “That keeps him – and us – pretty busy in the spring, especially.”
Right now the Schonrock’s large shop building is filled to the rafters with bags of corn seed ready for the snow to melt and planting to start.
“It is all previously ordered and just waiting to be picked up by our customers,” Steve Schonrock says. “Yes, it keeps us busy.”
The two have one full-time hired man to help out with the work – Aaron Wendt, another former BEA athlete.
“Aaron was about three grades behind me in school,” says Matt. “He started working full time for us about five years ago.”
Wendt says he was working at a golf course in Fairmont, but did part time work for the Schonrocks for several years as well, before going full time at the farm.
Steve and Matt also get help from a couple of others during the busy spring and fall seasons.
“We also have my grandpa,” Matt says. His grandfather is Elmer Schonrock, of Winnebago. “He comes out here to check on us just about every day.”
Matt Schonrock is actually a fourth generation farmer on the same land, located just north of the City of Winnebago.
“I came here in 1932 when I was six years old,” Elmer Schonrock says. “My father started farming here after coming from west of Amboy, and Beauford before that.”
Elmer took over the farm from his father, then Steve took over when Elmer retired.
Will Matt follow that tradition?
“Yeah, I plan on moving out to this farm someday,” he says. Right now he lives in a farm house just a mile and a half down the road.
“I just loved working on the farm when I was growing up,” Matt says. “I liked the tractors and all the kinds of work.”
For a while, that included working with pigs when the Schonrock farm had a hog operation.
“I had to slow down my farm chores during high school, because I got pretty involved in sports,” he recalls. “But, I still helped out a lot, whenever I could.”
Matt Schonrock has three married sisters; Sara in St. Peter, Sheila in Plymouth and Shannon in Arcadia, Wisc.
His mother, Janet, worked in the elementary school, but now stays home to tend to the family, including grandchildren.
“Sheila’s two boys just love coming to the farm, and farming with us, riding the tractor,” Matt says. “They hate to leave.”
Matt is currently single but that is going to change soon.
“I just got engaged,” he says. “I’m going to get married on August 20.”
His fiancee is Kristi Jensen of Lake City. Her father is Jerry Jensen, superintendent at USC Schools in Wells.
“Kristi is doing substitute teaching in several area schools,” Matt says. Although she wasn’t raised on a farm, he says she is excited to live on one now.
“We both think the rural area is a great place to live,” Matt says. “Winnebago and Blue Earth are great, with real friendly people.”
Matt Schonrock feels he is one lucky guy.
“Since I?was a little kid, all I wanted to do was farm,” he says. “But, it is really hard for a young person to get into it – unless their family has a farm operation.”
He says there are a lot of middle-age farmers eager to get bigger, which makes it hard for young people to get started.
“The demand for land has really driven the price up,” he says. “Plus, the cost of equipment is just outrageous. It is close to impossible to start an operation without family help.
“I know I am very fortunate, I am very, very lucky,” Matt says.
But, Steve Schonrock says the arrangement is advantageous both ways.
“There is so much new technology involved in farming these days, it takes a young person to help work with it,” he says.
So, the father/son Schonrock team works well together.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Matt says.