Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Dec. 18, 2000

Farming is all Ed Boehlke ever wanted to do

By Lynda Jensen

The self reliance, solitude, and quiet dignity of farming appeal to Ed Boehlke III, 20, of Waverly, who helps farm 300 acres with his father, Edward Jr., and brother, Ron.

His father owns 55 Jersey milk cows and about 25 head of beef cattle, Boehlke said.

Boehlke received the prestigious American FFA degree in October at the national FFA convention in Louisville, Ky.

"It's all I ever want to do," Boehlke said.

Boehlke has always been focused and clear about his goal since he was young, commented HLWW agricultural education instructor Jim Weninger.

Boehlke's achievement was recognized last month by the HLWW school district, where he graduated in 1998.

Times have changed

The changes in agronomy since Boehlke's grandpa farmed have been unbelievable, he said. "It's really changed," Boehlke's father, Ed Jr. agreed.

Nowadays, technology has taken a lot of back-breaking work out of farming tasks, such as using skid loaders to move hay bales and silage instead of moving things by hand, Weninger said.

"Hard labor has gone by the wayside," commented Weninger.

This is the secret to physical longevity, he said. "I'm sure when (Boehlke's) dad grew up, they did everything by hand," he said.

Today, there are some comforts, Ed Jr. said. "I like the heaters and air conditioners (in the tractors now)," he said. Tractors come with fully contained cabs where they used to be open to the elements. Ed Jr. remembers going out in the field dressed heavily for the weather, wearing a dog skin coat for warmth. Now, he goes out in short sleeves and enjoys it, he said.

Technology is not a bad partner when it comes to farms, Boehlke said.

Farming - still necessary in today's world

Although small family farms have declined, this does not mean that farming technology is going by the wayside - in fact, agronomy technology is growing, Boehlke said.

The Boehlke farm is a good example of smart marketing, Weninger said. Their family is not blindly farming, hoping to break even, but actually being selective about what it is doing, he said.

For example, the Boehlkes raise Jersey cows, which bring in a much higher check from the creamery because their butterfat content is much higher than that of Holsteins, Weninger said.

Weninger remembers Boehlke getting a hard time at school because his family raised Jerseys, but Boehlke kept following his dream, even against some resistance.

"Believe in what you're doing," Weninger said. This will deliver success more often than not, he said.

Most students in this generation did not know exactly what kind of job they would have, since technology would create jobs that didn't exist until the time students were employable.

"There are a lot of different occupations (in agriculture that are viable)," Weninger said.

This ties in with the future partnership between the University of Minnesota and the HLWW school district.

This partnership will have three components, a classroom laboratory, FFA experience, and supervised agricultural experience, which is where students will apply what they learn in practical skills, Weninger said.

This would allow students with the desire and love of farming to follow their dreams much like Boehlke did.

When Boehlke started in FFA, he was a ninth grader. By the time he became a senior, he received his FFA state degree.

Activities that he participated in are collecting corn as a fundraiser for Camp Courage, and landscaping jobs for the school and private parties. He competed in dairy judging for three years as well.

During the course of Boehlke's career with FFA, he's completed several projects, including going to the state level for creed speaking, dairy cattle, and livestock proficiency.

To get his American FFA degree, he completed a 20-page report and fulfilled a number of requirements, he said.

Whatever the future may hold, Boehlke will continue with farming and hopes his future children will, too.


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