Klussendorf receives Distinguished Service to Farm Bureau Award
Taylor County Farm Bureau member Robert Klussendorf received the highest award Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation bestows on its members.
Klussendorf was presented the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Distinguished Service to Farm Bureau award during the organization’s 104th Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells on December 3.
“Rob is an excellent example of the service one can give to Wisconsin agriculture,” said nominator and WFBF Vice President Joe Bragger. “Rob is the farmer and friend to all, willing to stand against any goliath to make changes that continue to benefit all farmers in the state of Wisconsin each year.”
Klussendorf’s involvement with Farm Bureau began in 1968 when he attended a Waukesha Farm Bureau meeting where former WFBF Director of Special Programs Don Armitage said, “If you do not like what is going on and don’t do anything about it, don’t complain.”
“That statement set the stage for the rest of his life, if there is something that needs to be done or changed to better Wisconsin farmers, Rob gets involved,” said Taylor County Farm Bureau Vice President Gary Kohn.
Rob’s dedicated service to Farm Bureau started with the Waukesha County Young Farmer Committee where he served as chairman from 1975-1978. Rob was then nominated and chosen to serve his district on the WFBF State Young Farmer Committee in 1977-1980 and was elected as chair from 1979-1980.
Rob continued his Farm Bureau service as a Waukesha County Farm Bureau board member from 1978-2012 where he served on several WFBF committees including a special committee on Young Farmer Finance, Policy Development Committee, Legislative Committee, VFA Committee, Ag in the Classroom Committee, Communication Committee, and was the chair of the Tax and Education Committee.
Rob also helped create the Farmer in the Classroom program which went on to be adopted by WFBF to become the statewide Ag in the Classroom program.
“Rob is the member that makes things happen instead of waiting for them to happen,” Kohn said. “Rob’s grandfather, Fred, was the first person to sign the Waukesha Farm Bureau charter, making the Klussendorf family the first members in the state. To Rob, Farm Bureau isn’t just a group of farmers, it’s family.”
Rob and his wife, Chris, now live in Medford and enjoy spending time with their daughter, son and grandkids.
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau also recognized Kaitlyn Kesler as the winner of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Agriculturalists Outstanding Agriculture Professional Award.
Kesler is the director of communications and outreach for the Wisconsin Beef Council. Her passion for agriculture started on her family’s registered Jersey farm near Gays Mills. She served as the 48th Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs and the 71st Alice in Dairyland. In 2022, Kesler received the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation 35 under 35 Award for Sustainable Storytelling because of her work with the Wisconsin Beef Council and currently is participating in the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Leadership Institute.
“This contest recognizes our young members who have gone above and beyond for agriculture within their communities,” said WFBF President Kevin Krentz. “Kaitlyn exemplifies the impact Wisconsin Farm Bureau members have in rural communities across the state.”
Other finalists included Julie Sweney of Dodge County, Brooke Trustem of Rock County and Tammy Wiedenbeck of Grant County.
Sydney Flick was selected as the winner of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Agriculturalists Farming for the Future Award at the organization’s 104th Annual Meeting and YFA Conference on December 3.
Flick is the farm manager at her family’s farm Jazzy Jerseys in Lodi, Wis. Flick manages the cows, team members and accounting for the 800-cow dairy. Recently the farm added a farm store and began retail selling beef, both of which she currently manages.
“This contest recognizes young farmers who excel in their farm involvement, future goals, leadership abilities and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations,” said WFBF President Kevin Krentz. “Sydney is a strong voice for Wisconsin farmers and an incredible agriculture advocate.”
Other finalists included Jacob and Eliza Bobolz of Rock County, Brad Laack of Sheboygan County and Victoria Wachholz of Marquette County.
Ethan Jackowski, a student at UWMadison, was selected the winner of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Collegiate Discussion Meet contest at the organization’s 104th Annual Meeting and YFA Conference in Wisconsin Dells on December 3.
Jackowski is a sophomore at UW-Madison pursuing a degree in biochemistry and a public policy certificate.
Jackowski found his passion for agriculture when he joined FFA his freshman year of high school. He currently serves as the vice president of Collegiate Farm Bureau at UW-Madison and looks forward to continuing to advocate for agriculture in his future career.
The Collegiate Discussion Meet is a panel discussion in which collegiate members are judged on their ability to lead a committee discussion on current issues affecting agriculture and to develop consensus on an action plan to effectively address issues.
Jackowski will receive a $1,500 scholarship courtesy of GROWMARK, Inc. and will represent Wisconsin in the national Collegiate Discussion Meet held in conjunction with the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers conference in Omaha, Nebraska.
Other finalists included Amanda Bender from UW-Madison, Brooke Casey and Katie Zimmer from UW-River Falls and Isaac Ward and Katelyn Meinholz from UW-Platteville.
Nate Zimdars of Dane County was selected the winner of the 2023 Wisconsin Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Agriculturalist Discussion Meet during the organization’s 104th Annual Meeting and YFA Conference on December 3.
The Discussion Meet is a panel discussion in which Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35 are judged on their ability to express their ideas and opinions and reach a solution on current issues affecting agriculture.
Zimdars was most recently a farm broadcaster with the Mid-West Farm Report. As of Dec. 4, he will be a machine operator with Emmi Roth Cheese in Stoughton.
He grew up on a small hobby farm outside of Ripon raising sheep and poultry. He attended UW-Fond du Lac and UW-Madison majoring in political science and history. He is a former state FFA Officer and Wisconsin FFA Alumni President. Zimdars is a graduate of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Leadership Institute Class XII and is a former county Farm Bureau board member.
Other finalists included Issac Christenson of Polk-Burnett Farm Bureau, Paul Lippert of Wood County Farm Bureau and Brooke Trustem of Rock County Farm Bureau.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization and is made up of 61 county Farm Bureaus. WFBF represents farms of every size, commodity, and management style.