Farm Family of the Year
The Schultz family is honored by University of Minnesota
When learning about a farming operation, the discussion often turns to the number of acres being farmed or the size of the livestock operation.
But Ron and Chris Schultz, who along with their children were recognized as Faribault County’s Farm Family of the Year for 2021, would rather talk about what else they raised on their farm: their family.
“Growing up on a farm gave each of our children good problem solving skills,” Ron says of the four boys and three girls he and Chris raised. “It is a real benefit as you go through life.”
The University of Minnesota Farm Family Recognition Program honors farm families from throughout Minnesota for their significant contributions to the agriculture industry and their local communities.
The Farm Family Recognition Program has honored Minnesota farmers since 1979. It is coordinated by University of Minnesota Extension, the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine.
The families were chosen, one per county, by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture.
The Schultz family, along with 80 families from throughout Minnesota, was honored during a ceremony held at Farmfest this past August.
“I began helping out on the farm when I was about six years old,” Ron comments. “I mostly worked with the livestock and as I grew older I began doing more field work.”
The Schultz farm, which is located in Walnut Lake Township, southeast of Easton, has always been a diversified farm.
“We raise corn, soybeans and have some ground in hay,” Ron shares. “I milked cows for 25 years and we just sold our last group of hogs on Sept. 7. We still have some cattle.”
Chris says their boys got involved in the operation when they were very young.
“They went with their dad every day,” she mentions. “They were barely out of their diapers when they started.”
Learning to work and have responsibilities were traits Ron and Chris felt were important for their children to have.
“If we did not have work for them on the farm they found work elsewhere,” Ron says. “Some of the places they worked were Sahrside Dairy outside of Bricelyn, the Easton Nursery and the Double Play restaurant in Blue Earth.”
The Schultz family children were also active in school activities, especially sports.
“Operating a farm can take away from family time and it can be hard to get away to see your kids’ ballgames,” Ron notes. “People who have never farmed may not understand how tough it is.”
But Ron and Chris made it a point to be at their children’s activities.
“Being involved with your family is the greatest thing,” Ron says.
While Ron may have been six when he started helping his father, Vern, he shares it was after graduation from high school when he really started to become part of the operation.
“I graduated from Wells-Easton in 1969 in a class of 113 students,” he comments. “I never really wanted to do anything else but farm and I never had any jobs other than the farm.
“I really got started in 1970. It was on-the-job training.”
Three of Ron and Chris’s sons, Dominic, Bernie and Christopher, farm with their father while also renting and owning their own land. Their fourth son, Vincent, returns to help with field work in the fall.
“I never asked any of them if they wanted to farm,” Ron says. “It was their decision.”
He says they all bring different skills to the operation.
“Dominic handles the planting, Christopher does the spraying and Bernie is the combine operator,” Ron explains. “Dominic also has tiling knowledge, mechanical skills and hauls grain for other farmers. Bernie has carpentry and construction skills and operates a tree cutting service.”
Four of the Schultz children have also served their country through military service.
“Vincent and all three of our girls served in the Armed Forces,” Chris shares. “Vincent was in the Air Force, Chelsea and Andre were in the Army and Marielle served in the Marines.”
Ron and Chris, who celebrated their 41st anniversary on Sept. 13, have also been very involved in their church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Easton, through the years.
Ron served on the Our Lady of Mount Carmel School Board for many years. Bernie currently serves on the church board and is also a volunteer fireman and a township supervisor. The Schultes are members of the county, state, and national Corn Growers Associations.
“The University of Minnesota takes pride in honoring these families. The farm families receiving this year’s honors exemplify what makes Minnesota agriculture strong,” Extension Dean Bev Durgan says. “They bring innovation, science and hard work to farming. They care greatly about the land and animals and delivering quality products to consumers worldwide.”
Ron and Chris believe growing up on a farm was a great way for their children to learn about life.
“Whatever you are doing now prepares you for what you are going to do later in life,” Ron says.
And even though Ron and Chris remain active on the farm where they raised their family, they can also take time to smile and enjoy the next generation as they continue to make their way through life.