AMY ERICKSON | KATIE LUNDMARK | KIM SCHNITZER | SANDY GUNDERSON | KATHY LARSON | BARB SCHLAUDERAFF
--WOMAN OF THE YEAR--
A VISIONARY VOICE FOR BECKER COUNTY WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 1
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THE MAGNIFICENT 7
6 Woman of the Year AMY ERICKSON Woman in Nonprofits
Woman in Health Care
KIM SCHNITZER Woman in Business
Woman in Government
KATHY LARSON Woman in Education
Woman in Agriculture
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Supplement to The Tribune October 27, 2019
PAGE 4 | WOMEN 3600
eady to be inspired? The seven women profiled in these pages will move you with their exceptional life stories and contributions to the Detroit Lakes community. From the influential and visionary Woman of the Year, Becky Mitchell, to the compassionate lay minister and gospel singer, Kim Schnitzer, every woman featured in this magazine has unique qualities and characteristics that put her in a league of her own. Once again this year, our readers — you — were tremendously generous in providing us with nominees for Woman of the Year. We put out our annual call for nominations in mid-September, and before the month was out, we had received more than 50 names of worthy and wonderful women. Add those to the lengthy list we already had going in-house, and that left us with some difficult choices to make. Truly, every woman nominated deserves to be Woman of the Year. Every woman has a story to tell, and we’d love to give each of those stories the chance to shine in the public spotlight via recognition in Women 360. There simply aren’t enough pages in one magazine to fulfill that wish, so instead, we tried our darndest to do what we think is the next best thing: We curated a list of finalists who not only have compelling individual tales, but whose lives and experiences, when bound together, also give a collective account of who we are, what we do and what we stand for in the Detroit Lakes area. This year, instead of profiling women by age, as we’ve done in the past — 20s, 30s, 40s and all the way up to the 100s — we’ve instead selected nominees who are stand-outs in different sectors of the community. In addition to our Woman of the Year, we have a Woman in Agriculture, Woman in Education, Woman in Business, Woman in Health Care, Woman in Government, and Woman in Nonprofits. Nominees who didn’t make it into this year’s magazine will remain on the list for next year, or may be featured in another way, such as in a future edition of the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations. — Marie Johnson Women 360 Editor
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A visionary voice for Becker County â€” past, present and future By Marie Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
Marie Johnson | Women 360
Becky Mitchell, executive director of the Becker County Museum, received several nominations for Woman of the Year for her many influential community efforts and involvements. PAGE 6 | WOMEN 3600
er colleagues and community partners all use the same word to describe her: “visionary.” Admired for her creative spirit, positive attitude, strong work ethic and open-mindedness, Becky Mitchell has a reputation as an energetic and passionate leader — one with a knack for initiating beneficial collaborations that help make good things happen in Becker County. To the close friends and family who know her best, she’s all that plus a committed wife and loving mother of four children, unassuming role model, supportive shoulder to lean on, and the perfect person to bounce wild ideas off of. Becky spends her days preserving the past, promoting the present and preparing for the future as the executive director of the Becker County Museum. She’s an influential “mover and shaker” in the Detroit Lakes area, and is involved in a lot of community organizations. In the evenings, she heads home to help tend to her two young daughters (her two sons are grown and no longer live at home), as well as to the family’s menagerie of animals — horses, goats, dogs and a donkey. “She’s very busy,” says Tif Walz, a friend of Becky’s. “Kids are one thing, but when you also have to go home and make sure your donkey has water …? She’s very committed to her family.” “It sounds hyperbolic to say she’s amazing, but she truly is,” Tif adds. “She operates in the world of hyperbole, because she’s that good at what she does.”
‘THE MITCHELL HOUSE OF CHAOS’
Becky grew up in the Fargo-Moorhead area and considered Detroit Lakes her “second home” for most of her childhood. Her grandparents lived here, and she would often visit in the summers to swim, fish and play at the lake. After moving away to attend college in North Dakota, and then living and working in Ohio for about a decade, she settled back in the Detroit Lakes area in 2006. Her husband, Kevin, was working for General Motors in Toledo, “and that area was already starting to feel the economic pain” of the Great Recession, Becky explains. So they made the uncharacteristically impulsive decision to move, and were back in Minnesota within weeks. “For the first time in my life, I was very irresponsible,” Becky laughs. “I didn’t have a job. I didn’t know what I was going to do.” She and Kevin already had their two sons at the time, Greg and Ryan, who are now 25 and 22 years old. Becky found out she was pregnant with their daughter, Emma, now 12, shortly after the move, and they later adopted a fourth child, daughter Eden, now 9. The Mitchells welcomed Eden, who has a chromosomal condition similar to Down syndrome, into their home when she was in kindergarten, and after she became eligible for adoption, made her an official permanent member of the family. “Becky’s a wonderful mom,” Tif says. “She takes time to make sure her kids are nurtured, and she takes time to do things that they are interested in. She’s always asking them, ‘What do you need? What can we do to help you get what you need?’” The Mitchells live on a hobby farm just south of Lake Park. Becky calls it “The Mitchell House of Chaos”
Becky and her husband, Kevin, with their two girls, Eden and Emma.
Becky just seems to be able to reach out to the right people and make connections to make things happen. -Emily Buermann, program director at the museum
Becky, lobbying at the state capitol with Natalie Bly and Scott Walz for bonding money for the new Becker County Museum. WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 7
because there’s always so much activity going on. They have “a couple of horses, and a donkey, some goats, dogs,” she says. “It’s always somewhat controlled chaos.” She adds that she and Kevin are “kind of always worker bees,” and like to do a lot of DIY projects and remodeling around the house, so there’s also chaos in that sense.
A FUTURE IN THE PAST
Becky studied early childhood in college — “I’ve always loved kids,” she says — but her career never actually turned down that path. Instead, she got a job managing a small medical clinic in Ohio, and then worked as a secretary at a high school there for awhile before moving back to Detroit Lakes. Wanting to find work here as soon as possible, she started actively meeting and talking to people, to get her name out there and network. She struck gold when she met Amy Stearns, the executive director of the Historic Holmes Theatre. Amy happened to be looking for a box office manager at the time. She was impressed with Becky, she says, and encouraged her to apply. Over the next nine years, Becky’s role at the Holmes evolved out of the box office and into outreach, event planning and marketing. She was a key person behind the installation of the penny floor at the theater, and also led the memorable “Mosaic Mania” project for many years, visiting kids’ classrooms to teach and work with them. Becky has been a stained glass and mosaic artist for about 25 years. “She was great to have here at the Holmes,” Amy says. “We worked great together. She is friendly, outgoing, creative, energetic, has some really great ideas,
and is a hard worker.” Becky became ingrained in the community during her years at the Holmes, connecting with other community leaders and serving on various volunteer boards and committees. One of those was the Becker County Historical Society Board. There, she became familiar with the organization and its mission, as well as the challenges it faced — namely, its aging museum. The position of executive director of the museum opened up shortly after Becky’s term on the board expired, and she was approached about the job. Accepting it wasn’t a decision she made lightly. She loved her work at the Holmes. She also knew, however, that her experience there could be an asset to both the museum and theatre if she took the museum job, and that helped entice her. She thought of the new position as “an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the museum and the Holmes … and to try something different.”
LEADING THE MUSEUM, IN THE PRESENT
“Self-admittedly, I am not a history expert,” Becky says with a laugh. But no matter. The historical society has plenty of history experts, she says, and her “great staff and support system” is encouraged to play on their strengths: “I leave it to the experts, if you will.” She sees her role at the museum as one of general leadership. “I’ve always approached my job as its purpose being the overall visioning, and growing things and keeping things relevant and current in today’s times,” she says. “What I’ve done is take what the museum was doing
Self-admittedly, I am not a history expert… I’ve always approached my job as its purpose being the overall visioning. -Becky Mitchell
Marie Johnson | Women 360
Becky, in her office at the Becker County Museum. PAGE 8 | WOMEN 3600
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before, and grown that.” Shortly after donning the executive director hat in August 2015, Becky took the board on what she calls “a visioning process” for the museum. After talking with people in the community, she discovered that folks 55 and older had “a great relationship” with the museum, but people in the younger generations had no such relationship at all. She called in some outside expertise from the Minnesota State Historical Society to help the local board brainstorm ways to engage a younger audience. As a result, they decided to start hosting more family-focused activities at the museum, such as make-and-take arts and crafts projects. The activities didn’t even need to have a history focus, Becky says; the intent was simply to get parents and their kids in the door.
The process she has taken her museum board through since 2015… has been very open-minded, very visionary, and very vision-based. -Tif Walz, museum fundraising committee member
From there, Becky came up with the idea to add more STEAM programming for kids (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) — an idea that kick-started a whole new approach to how history is taught and learned at the Becker County Museum. Adding a science component to the history museum made sense to Becky, she says, because many of the local historical industries are science-based: forestry and agriculture, for example. Also, science-focused educational opportunities are in high demand now, so she knew STEAM programs would draw families in. When she first ran the idea past the Minnesota State Historical Society, her contact there thought she was onto something, Becky says, but they weren’t sure how the public would perceive it. To “test the waters,” so to speak, the museum set up a science-based, hands-on learning center for kids and adults in collaboration with a temporary historical exhibit on waterPAGE 10 | WOMEN 3600
Becky and her daughter, Eden, stand underneath a sign displaying the Becker County Museum’s new vision for an accessible museum that offers programming for people of all abilities.
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she really is willing to look at new ideas and different ways. During the exhibit’s six-week course, Becky says, approaches, and try something new to see if it could “We had more people in the museum than we had had work for the community. And she’s embracing of the in entire years before that.” whole community, from the small townships to the The success of that exhibit snowballed into other bigger cities in our county. She does a really good job STEAM programming, and since then, the museum has of being cognizant that she’s representing the whole hosted robotics camps, arts camps, coding camps, and county.” other similar events and activities. “We’re focused on history, but also kids and educaBRINGING THE MUSEUM INTO THE FUTURE tion and hands-on and science activities,” says Emily Buermann, the museum’s program director. “We have When Becky became executive director, the museum our challenges — coming up with whole new ideas, and board had plans to build a new, standalone facility — trying to find funding for our new ideas — but Becky and had already raised most of the $3.3 million needed just seems to be able to to do so. reach out to the right peoThe current museum ple and make connections building, located on Sumto make things happen.” mit Avenue next to the Emily met Becky about Detroit Lakes Commufour years ago, shortnity and Cultural Center ly before her program complex, which includes director position at the the Historic Holmes Themuseum opened up. They atre, is aging and beyond met at a fundraiser for the repair. museum, and Becky made “It’s in dire straights,” an impression on her right Becky says. “It’s kind of away. crumbling around us.” “I thought, ‘Wow, she’s Under her leadership, -Amy Stearns, executive director really passionate about city, county and other of the Historic Holmes Theatre community leaders and moving forward with the stakeholders came back to new museum, and she’s the table and talked about got some great ideas what was really needed in about how to get families Detroit Lakes, and on that engaged, and get children Summit Avenue block, engaged,’” Emily says. in particular. They determined that a new standalone “When the position opened, I came in and interviewed. facility wouldn’t meet all their long-term needs, and a She had some really wild ideas, and she said she wantnew plan was formulated. ed someone who could match her wild ideas, and I “The process she has taken her museum board thought, ‘We’re going to make a great team.’” through since 2015 … has been very open-minded, very “I really admire her hard work and her focus to make visionary, and very vision-based,” says Tif, a memthis the best place that it possibly can be,” she adds. ber of the fundraising committee for the new muse“And really reaching out to everyone in the commuum. “She looks at, ‘Where have we been? What have nity. She works hard to make sure that we’re not the we done? What are we doing? What do people want to Detroit Lakes museum, that we’re truly the Becker know, and what do people want to be a part of in the County Museum.” future?’” Amy expresses similar thoughts, saying, “I think
She is friendly, outgoing, creative, energetic, has some really great ideas, and is a hard worker.
Becky leads a fundraising campaign committee meeting at the museum. She takes a team approach to leadership, she says, encouraging people to play to their strengths and allowing them to grow. PAGE 12 | WOMEN 3600
“She’s energetic, and she’s positive,” Tif adds. “She in 2020, whether or not those bonding funds come wants to get things done… She’s a real leader for this through. community.” ‘I’M A DOER’ The new plan for the museum, well into the fundraising stage today, calls for the construction of a The fundraising campaign for the new museum plan 30,000-square-foot history, science and children’s kicked off in 2018, and has been bolstered by Becky’s museum that would be built as an addition onto the relationships within the community. community center complex. It would share a lobby, She was heavily involved in the Ice Harvest and Ice box office and gift shop with the Holmes, and the old Palace events that winter, and got to know a few of museum building would be demolished to create space her fellow committee members there quite well. They for some much-needed parking in that area. worked great together, she says, so she asked for their Becky says the new facility would allow the museum help with the museum project, and they stepped up, to have a more accessible research library, with a firebig-time. proof preservation room and digital files versus papers They laid out a timeline, and by spring, “things realsitting in file cabinets. There would be an audio library, ly picked up,” Becky says. She traveled with a group and a recording studio where staff can sit down with down to the state capitol in March to lobby for funding, people and record their stories, in their own words. and started seeking local pledges soon after that. The large structures in the museum that are static “Local legislators have been very supportive and now would be movable, vocal about the project,” so displays and exhibBecky says. “I’m optiits could be rearranged mistic about the camand artifacts could paign. There’s always the spend some of their time fear it might not happen “resting” in storage, as … But I do think it will they’re supposed to. happen. We’ve had a very There would also be an positive response from entire floor dedicated to our region. We’ve had all a hands-on children’s ‘yeses’ when we’re out learning and science centalking to people … We’re ter. just so blessed that peoThe opportunities that ple have stepped up.” the new facility could For now, while she’s bring for kids, Becky focused on the campaign, says, “are limitless, Becky has stepped away especially when you’re from most of her other talking about partnering community involvewith the Holmes, because ments, but her reputation we can be a little more as an active volunteer thoughtful about how to isn’t going anywhere. work hand-in-hand with She’s been on the Lake the shows they’re havRegion Arts Council, ing.” the Lake Park Economic “I’m super excited for, Development Association, eventually, the building the Polar Fest and Ice of the new museum,” Harvest committees, the says Amy, “which will Sesquicentennial Combe connected here to the mittee and the Propel DL Holmes, and what that Submitted Photo will mean for how we can When she worked at the Historic Holmes Theatre, Becky was a inaugural board, among others. collaborate … It will be leader behind the installation of the penny floor there. Currently, she’s a even richer and stronmember of the Kiwanis ger.” service organization, a mentor through the LEADER“A really great skill that Becky has is creating coaship Detroit Lakes program, and is also serving her litions and partnerships,” says Tif. “With her work first year on the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. at the Holmes and the museum, working together to In October, she was recognized by the Detroit Lakes accomplish similar goals… She also knows that Pat Chamber of Commerce as a “rising star” in the comPetermann at the Boys and Girls Club (has been incormunity for her leadership and willingness to serve, porating more STEAM programming there), so she’s winning the Launch Award at the Chamber’s first-ever reached out to him to see how they can work together Splash Award ceremony. to help expose kids to these things. Her ability to netWhile she doesn’t like to toot her own horn, Becky work … is amazing.” will say that, “I’m a doer. I generally don’t like to wait As of early fall, the museum had raised just shy of for somebody else to do something. If I have an idea, $3 million in pledges toward the total $6.4 million I’ll jump in and do it. I’ll find the resources to do it. I needed to complete the building project. They’re seekcan be stubborn. I think the No. 1 way to get me to do ing another $3 million in state bonding funds, and are optimistic that ground will be broken sometime something, is to tell me that I can’t do something.” § WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 13
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The founder of the Lakes Area Imagination Library has turned her passion for reading into a way of life By Vicki Gerdes firstname.lastname@example.org
Vicki Gerdes / Women 360
This is Amy’s favorite spot for reading in her Detroit Lakes home. She has a goal of reading 200 books in a single year. PAGE 16 | WOMEN 3600
rom the Little Free Library she set up on her own lawn, to the book club she started with a group of her Facebook friends, most of the volunteer and leisure activities that Amy Erickson has engaged in since moving to Detroit Lakes illustrate her love for literature and education. “It’s my passion,” she says. “Reading is what I love the most, and if I can provide kids with opportunities to develop a love for books and reading, I’ll be pretty satisfied with my life.” A native of Lamotte, Iowa, Amy holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Iowa. She taught at schools in Colorado and Texas before, at age 28, she took a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, “and fell in love with it.” That vacation changed her life in unexpected ways, and she ended up staying in Cabo for much longer than she originally intended. She met her future husband, Jed, there, and then got involved in his family’s resort business. “I didn’t plan on spending 11 years there,” she says. The couple moved their family from Cabo to Detroit Lakes — Jed’s childhood hometown — in 2010. Just a year later, Amy was already working to make a difference in her new community, bringing together a group of her fellow moms to start up the Lakes Area Imagination Library. The local program is part of the national Imagination Library nonprofit organization, which was started by entertainer Dolly Parton in 1995 to put free books into the hands of kids between the ages of 0-5. “Any parent with a child under the age of 6 can go to our website (imaginationlibrarydl.org) and register their kid,” says Amy. “They will have one free book delivered to their home each month, which adds up to 12 books a year, at no cost to them.” In 2014, the local program was expanded to encompass all of Becker County; today, there are about 1,350 kids enrolled in the program, Amy says. It costs about $2 per book, or $25 per child,
to provide those books each year, which adds up to Voters. “I have known Amy for a long time and have worked approximately $33,750 in annual expenses — a cost with her on several community projects,” says her that is covered entirely by grants and donations. The friend, Scott Walz. “She is committed to making our Imagination Library itself is 100% staffed by voluncommunity the best it can be. She does so with the teers. absolutely perfect combination of sincerity, passion, “We used to hold a big annual fundraiser, but we’ve determination and even a little intimidation to get moved more toward writing grants and making direct results. We are blessed to have her in our community.” appeals,” Amy says. “It’s such an affordable program, These days, the bulk of Amy’s non-family time is and it does amazing things for kids to have ownership devoted to her work on of their own books, even the Detroit Lakes Board of before they start school.” Education, to which she Amy’s love for reading was elected in 2016. She is isn’t all about instilling a currently the board chair. love for literature in kids: She was motivated to about seven years ago, she run for the school board, started a book club with she says, because she has a group of her Facebook three children enrolled friends that is still going in Detroit Lakes public strong. schools — her oldest son “I have a goal to read -Amy Erickson Alex is in 9th grade at 200 books in a year,” she Detroit Lakes High School; says, adding that while she daughter Anika is in 7th has ‘only’ read 47 since the grade at Detroit Lakes beginning of 2019, “One of Middle School; and son these years I’ll reach that Jake is in 4th grade at Rossman Elementary. goal.” “I have one kid at each level right now,” she says. Her life doesn’t leave as much room for reading as Her longtime friend, Gretchen Thilmony, calls her, “a she’d like. Besides the Imagination Library and keepsteadfast proponent of quality public school education ing her own Little Free Library stocked with books, (who) dedicates her time to meaningful programs that Amy also volunteers at her church, Holy Rosary Cathenhance our community and benefit everyone.” olic Church, serves on the board of Minnesota Flyers “Detroit Lakes – and Becker County – should be Gymnastics, and in the past has been involved in the proud to have her as an advocate for our youth in more Kiwanis, Polar Fest activities and the League of Women
I just keep my eyes open and look for opportunities to be helpful.
The Erickson family includes Amy, her husband Jed, their daughter Anika and sons Jake (in front) and Alex. WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 17
ways than one,” she adds. All three of the Erickson’s children were born in Cabo San Lucas, and Jed is still involved in the family’s resort business there. The couple moved their family to Detroit Lakes in part because they wanted to raise their kids in Minnesota, but also because their youngest son was born with severe heart defects that necessitated treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “Jake was born with a coarctation (i.e., narrowing) of his aorta, and mitral valve dysplasia,” Amy says. He needed two heart surgeries before he was even two weeks old, and another when he was a little older. “It was really tough,” Amy recalls of that time in their lives. “That was an experience we’ll never forget. But we were very fortunate. He had great care, both in Mexico and at Mayo.” Jake is able to live his life pretty normally now, she says, though he’s unable to participate in contact sports like football, baseball or soccer. He can, however, join in such sports as skiing and golfing with his friends. “He’s a great kid with a great
attitude,” says Amy. “He’ll need more surgery when he gets older, but we’ll worry about that when the time comes.” Though being a mom to three school-aged kids is a full-time job in and of itself, Amy says she got her commitment to volunteering from her mother, Eulaine Hutch-
Amy credits her mother, Eulaine Hutchcroft, with inspiring her dedication to volunteering. Eulaine raised 10 children while working full-time, and still managed to volunteer in her community quite regularly.
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croft. “I grew up with a mom who raised nine kids, had a full-time job and still volunteered,” she says. “My mom would do anything for anyone, and I guess I’m just trying to live up to her example. I just keep my eyes open and look for opportunities to be helpful.” §
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Desiree Bauer / Women 360
Katie Lundmark has spent her entire adult career in the health care field, working in a variety of leadership positions. She is currently the Regional Director of Operations for Ecumen.
atie Lundmark has worked in the local health care industry for more than 15 years. The Detroit Lakes native went to college to specialize in health care administration and “hasn’t looked back since,” she says. It was at Ecumen in Detroit Lakes where she snagged her first full-time job in health care, and after a bit of bouncing around to explore new opportunities and grow her career, she’s now back at Ecumen as the organization’s Regional Director of Operations. Katie says she’s not exactly sure what initially piqued her interest in health care. Her father was a chiropractor, so that may have been a source of inspiration, but it PAGE 20 | WOMEN 3600
also had to do with the likelihood of finding a good job, and job security. As a teenager, Katie learned about the rising needs of the aging baby boomer generation, and she also heard that a rising number of college students were unable to find quality work after graduation. She didn’t want the latter to happen to her, so, she turned to health care. “I found out about the business side of it and thought, ‘That sounds like something that actually makes sense for me,’” she says. “I’m strong at math and numbers, so I thought I would give it a shot.” Though it was this talent for numbers that drew her into the field, it’s been the people who have kept her
Every time you walk away, you are so humbled by the love and the care that the staff provides... It’s hard, but the people who do it are angels. -Katie Lundmark, on her Ecumen employees
happy there. That, and all the opportunities she has to learn new things. “You learn something new — something, or somebody — every single day,” she says. “There’s no way you can’t, with working with people.”
and patient were going to be moved, etc. “It was a project; a really big project,” she recalls with a laugh. There was an empty building to be filled, and again, Katie found that her job was to “fill it up.” After that was done, her next task was yet again to “fill it up” — ‘GROWING AND LEARNING’ this time, the space left empty at the old hospital. She found tenants almost immediately. Katie got her career rolling as Ecumen’s first-ever With the move complete, Katie transitioned into her Housing Manager of The Madison. The independent role as the Vice President of Long-Term Development, living facility “had just opened,” she says, and she was directing the Perham Living nursing home, senior essentially there to “fill it up.” housing and independent living facilities. She says that was a busy time for her, and also a very She held that position for more than four years, and exciting one. She was leading a new opportunity in the then was faced with another big career choice: she community — and it wouldn’t be her last time doing so. learned that Ecumen was looking for a new Executive She did well in the role, and that earned her some Director, a position that was open due to her former flexibility at Ecumen. She was able to move around to boss being promoted. It was an opportunity she felt she different positions within the company, working at couldn’t pass up. Sunnyside Care Center at their Lake Park campus for a “So I started back here in 2016,” she says. “It was a few years, and then at the Pelican Rapids campus. very difficult decision to No matter where she was move from Perham.” stationed at Ecumen, or Katie stayed in that what position she was in, Executive Director role she says, “I loved working for about 2-1/2 years, and there.” then in January assumed After about six years the position of Regional with the organization, Director of Operations. The Katie made the difficult move “was an unexpectdecision to leave her leaded change,” she says. “It ership position as Execuwasn’t on my radar.” tive Director at Ecumen for It may not have been a new position in Perham. planned, but when she She became the Hospital learned that the job would Moving Consultant for be opening up, “Shortly Perham Health & Living, after … I was interested.” and soon after that the As the Regional Director Vice President of Longof Operations, Katie overTerm Development there. sees seven Ecumen sites. “That was just a great Instead of being the go-to community,” she says of person for information Perham. “When I started, about those sites, like she they were in the midst of used to be, she is now the building a new hospital.” person who receives that Katie coordinated every information. It’s been an last detail behind Perham adjustment for her, but she Health’s move into its new Submitted Photo knows and trusts the peofacility — what was going Katie spends most of her free time with her husband, Eric, ple she’s relying on. where, how it was going to and their two kids: Keifer, a 7th grader at Detroit Lakes “I know their strengths get there, what time and Middle School, and Clara, a 9th grader at Detroit Lakes and how great of a job they how each staff member do as leaders,” she says. High School. WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 21
The position has its challenges, but Katie says she enjoys how much she’s able to learn and grow from it. “I like that part of this work, growing and learning. That’s always constant,” she says. “I really find that I can learn something new every single day in this role. And I should be, because I will never be an expert. Every person’s situation is different and that just creates different challenges, and different positive things, too.” Katie’s appreciation for Ecumen extends beyond the professional and into the personal, as she’s had a parent and two parentsin-law pass away in the community. “Every time you walk away, you are so humbled by the love and the care that the staff provides every single day,” she says. “They’re just heroes where they work. It’s hard, but the people who do it are angels.” All of Katie’s diverse experiences at nursing homes and hospitals, and all the diverse people and situations she’s worked with, are the things that her sister, Nicole Schmitz, thinks make Katie so good at her job. “She just has a huge knowledge of so many different aspects, and it gives her such a broad spectrum of understanding people,” Nicole says. “I think she’s just such a huge asset to anywhere she goes.”
Katie with her family and friends after receiving her Master’s Degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2018.
Tribune File Photo
Katie assumed the position of Regional Director of Operations for Ecumen in January.
LIVING HER BEST LIFE
When she isn’t at work, Katie is likely to be found cheering on her two kids at their school activities, or spending time with her husband and friends. She loves to play golf, and spends as much time as she can either on or by the lake. She relishes the chance to sit on her deck, drink wine, be with her PAGE 22 | WOMEN 3600
Tribune File Photo
Katie, far right, holds a quilted coverlet created by the Detroit Lakes Area Quilters Guild for Ecumen Detroit Lakes to use in its 2018 Walk of Honor ceremony, which honors its residents at the end of their lives. Also pictured are (from left), Ecumen Chaplain Peter Gallatin and Quilters Guild members Corinna Honer and Pat Link.
family, and just watch the water. She’s also active with various state and local organizations. She’s been in the Rotary Club for about a decade, and is also on the Minnesota Board of Aging and LeadingAge Minnesota — both of which assist older adults by making sure they have a voice in the public sphere and have access to the health care they need. She personally ensures that older people in the rural Lakes Area are heard. “I just feel very strongly that we have a voice at the table,” she says. “I concluded several years ago that I don’t go, ‘Who’s going to go?’ We need a voice at the table.” Her work with these organizations has helped her grow and learn more, too, she says. Her sister seconds this, saying, “She always comes back from (board events) with a whole other set of ideas, or...viewpoints.” Between 2015 and 2018, Katie managed all these career, family and volunteer responsibilities while also working on her Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration at Minnesota State University Moorhead. This past summer was her first summer off from school in three years. “I missed three summers of adult opportunities,” she laughs. “I think I got like three more rounds of golf in this summer.” Nicole says her sister has a talent for balancing all her involvements, and keeps her eye focused on what’s most important in life. “She always knows how to reset herself,” she says. “I think that’s why she’s been so successful.” “I just really try and live my life the best I can every day,” Katie says. “It’s really just about the people I have around me.” §
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-Woman in Business-
Comfort through compassion, service through song By Desiree Bauer firstname.lastname@example.org
life of singAs she dug around in ing isn’t what a piano bench, looking Kim Schnitzer for a song that she pictured for herrecognized — Kim self when she was could not, and still young. As a student cannot, read music in Detroit Lakes, she — she found “My wasn’t involved in any Tribute,” by Andraé music-related clubs Crouch. or organizations. She “That was the sang to herself, and defining moment that was it. in my life. As I was That changed just as standing there singshe was about to grading, there was a ray of light that came in uate from high school. through the window, She had to sing in the and that ray of light class’s baccalaureate hit me,” Kim recalls, service, and the music still in fond awe of the teacher gave Kim her moment from 40 years first solo. It was a total ago. “And it was like shock to her. — I can’t explain it — “I sat and listened to it was like the power (the choir) sing their of God just went right first song through… through — woosh! Then I sang... then — through me, and (the director) stops I heard a voice say, the choir and looks at ‘This is what you’re me and says, ‘Where meant to do.’ And I have you been?’” Kim felt really called.” recalls. She admits that, A LIFE OF SONG “my ear is really From the start of her quick, I never forget singing career, Kim a melody,” and she Desiree Bauer | Women 360 has striven to use her always thought she Kim Schnitzer has been the Office Manager at David-Donehowvoice for “The Lord’s had a decent voice, er Funeral Home for the past 10 years. She is also a gospel singgood,” she says. but until that perforer and lay minister, providing spiritual comfort to those who Vicki Marthaler, her mance, she believed she are hurting and grieving. close friend, believes she lacked the confidence to has followed through sing in front of an audiwith that intention. ence. “She really believes that she was called to share her Soon after that debut, at the age of 17, she married voice. Even without training or lessons…she has used her high school sweetheart, Timothy, and they started a her voice faithfully to encourage people and bless peofamily. They’re still together today, celebrating 45 years ple,” Vicki says. this year. Kim credits her husband for giving her so For 13 years, Kim shared her voice faithfully with much love and support throughout her singing career. a gospel quartet called Shekinah (a theological term He was by her side during the defining moment of it, defined as “the glory of the divine presence”). The for example, when she was 21 years old and pregnant group recorded two albums and traveled across the U.S. with their second child. A man from their church said, to perform, sometimes with all their families in tow. as a prank, that Kim would sing for an upcoming ser“It was a wonderful time, a wonderful experience,” vice. He didn’t know she had a talent for singing. And Kim says. she chose to follow through on his supposed prank. PAGE 24 | WOMEN 3600
That was the defining moment in my life. As I was standing there singing, there was a ray of light that came in through the window, and that ray of light hit me, and...I heard a voice say, ‘This is what you’re meant to do.’ And I felt really called. -Kim Schnitzer
When Shekinah eventually disbanded, Kim was ready to accept that her singing career might be over. “But then another door opened up,” she says with a smile. That’s when she and Vicki first met. Kim was invited to sing at a church and needed a pianist to accompany her piece. Vicki was the church’s go-to. After singing and playing together that first time, the two came together to organize their own ministry: Sing and Tell the Story. “She would speak and I would sing,” Kim says. “Our programs were always ones of encouragement and kindness,” Vicki says, explaining that most were faith-based, but others were not. “We forged a beautiful, lasting friendship — and our husbands, as well.” “I’ve learned so much (from her),” she adds. “She works very hard at educating herself on things... And her faith, her faith has been a real example and inspiration to me.” After about 20 years, Vicki made the difficult decision to end their ministry and move to North Carolina. The two still maintain a close relationship through the miles they’re apart, visiting and talking as often as possible. Kim released an album of her own earlier on in her career, as well. She had an opportunity to sign with the record label that released it, but chose not to accept it. “I just decided that wasn’t the path that God had for me, because that would remove myself from being focused on helping people,” Kim explains. “I had to think about what would be the thing that honored God
the most.” Today, Kim sings at various churches, fundraisers, clubs and funerals, and to the dying at nursing homes — including her own grandfather. “That’s one of the biggest honors — that they want you to be there with them when they’re dying,” she says.
GROWING WITH GRIEF AND GOD
Throughout her years of her traveling and singing, Kim also held a variety of day jobs around Detroit Lakes, ranging from working in insurance to a lumber yard, and even making and painting her own porcelain dolls for a time. For the past 10 years, she has been the Office Manager at David-Donehower Funeral Home. “She’s been just a wonderful mentor,” says Valerie Knudsvig, Kim’s coworker for the past five years. “Everything you can think of, as far as being at your very best in providing quality care.” Valerie says she and Kim have built a great friendship that includes a lot of laughter and fond memories. But, as she says, “As you’re sharing life together, you share the struggles, too.” Shortly before Valerie started at the funeral home, Kim battled thyroid cancer. She lost an octave in her vocal range, bringing it to a three-octave range. “I prayed and prayed about that, because I didn’t want my voice to be damaged,” Kim says. “It changed my voice, but it didn’t take away my voice. I always feel
(Left) Kim with her family. (Right) Kim and her husband Timothy celebrated 45 years together this year. They were married shortly after graduating from Detroit Lakes High School. WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 25
like God answered my Kim treats them how she prayer because I can still wanted to be, and was, sing.” treated when she was in Around that same time, their shoes. She says, “It’s Kim’s mom was diaga great opportunity to show nosed with pancreatic compassion,” offering up cancer. It was aggressive, hugs and prayers, comfortquickly forming across ing them in “whatever way her whole body, taking it comes to them.” her life just three weeks Her time and experiences after the diagnosis. at the funeral home also Even though, “it was led her to become a Stevens an ugly, ugly thing,” Minister, joining the lay Kim says, she’s grateful ministry and providing a for the support and care deeper spiritual assistance she received from her coworkers. to those who are hurting “It’s an amazing gift and grieving. Desiree Bauer | Women 360 that the staff...give peo“This job has been a Kim, with the members of her quartet, Shekinah. They reple in honoring their wonderful job. I think I’ve leased two albums in their 13 years together. loved ones,” Kims says. grown a lot within myself,” “I think that’s been an she says of working at the experience in my life that has helped me connect more funeral home. “I think the whole concept of loving peowith the people that come in here.” ple as yourself...took form as I worked here.” After that experience with her mom, Kim found a new At the end of December, Kim will retire from her commandment that she applies to her daily life and position to spend more time with family, friends, her work: “Love your Lord and God with your heart, soul faith and her music. She wants to do “more things civand mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” ic-centered,” she says, and “go see family whenever I This commandment is what she hopes people see and want to.” feel when they look at and talk to her. Vicki does, saying “It’s been a very hard decision for me, but the other that, “When you’re with Kim, she is with you. She gives aspects of my life are just getting to be so full,” she you 100% of her.” When grieving people come into the funeral home, says. §
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WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 27
-Woman in Government-
SANDY GUNDERSON Enthusiastic about recycling, she believes she has ‘the best job in the county’ By Nathan Bowe email@example.com
andy Gunderson never has to phone it in — she flat-out loves her
job. Even at the worst of times, she always seems to maintain her composure: Upbeat, cheerful, businesslike and professional. She is Recycling Coordinator, Hazardous Waste Regional Coordinator and Waste Educator at Becker County Environmental Services. “She is very passionate about her job,” says Steve Skoog, director (of environmental services). “She is very passionate about recycling and understanding how to better understand waste and how it’s all connected, and bringing that message to the public.” Sandy has lived in Detroit Lakes since she was 3 years old, and learned a lot about responsibility and caring for the community from her dad, LeRoy “Gundy” Gunderson Sr., a longtime Detroit Lakes police officer, as well as from her mom, Shirley Gunderson, a nurse at Essentia. Sandy started in environmental services as Landfill Attendant in 1990. At that time, she says, the transfer station and demolition landfill were county owned and privately operated. There have been a lot of changes over the last 30 years in the way garbage is handled, and it’s for PAGE 28 | WOMEN 3600
Nathan Bowe / Women 360
Sandy Gunderson has been with Becker County Environmental Services for about 30 years.
farmers who are recycling ag plastics, and Dynamic the better, she says: “It’s all great — we’ve come so Homes is recycling house wrap. Pet Care Systems is far. Back in the day, everything went into the garbage, recycling plastics, too. We encourage businesses to call. including hazardous waste.” If they have a waste they create, we may or may not be The county’s household hazardous waste recycling able to find a market, but we’d like to look for them.” program started in 1997, and it continues to grow in When it comes to glass recyclables, her goal is to popularity. work with the hospitality industry to get them out of “It’s amazing to me — it’s pretty exciting,” says the wastestream. She says recycling glass saves the Sandy. county from hauling it to the incinerator in Perham The reuse program allows people to give away and with the burnable garbage, only to have to pull it out pick up paint, stain, varnish and other products. of the wastestream there and haul it back to Fargo for “We average 50-60 people a day,” she says. “In the landfill disposal. summertime, it’s 75 to 80 people a day” participating The county is moving toward mattress recycling, in the reuse program. which is a specialty process, and toward separating The program is a win-win when it comes to disrecyclable construction material before it goes into the posing of paint, adhesives, strippers and solvents, she demo landfill. Eventually, says. compost will be recycled “It’s being used for its here, as well, according to intended purpose, which Sandy. is a good thing, and the In general, she says, county doesn’t have to pay “Recycling is going like to ship it away,” she says. gangbusters here — our “If it’s good and useable, goal is to work toward a we put it out. We have a 60% recycling rate.” lot of crafters coming out Sandy has three older for it.” brothers: LeRoy Jr. and his In general, more of the wife, Vicki, live in Tencounty’s wastestream is -Sandy Gunderson nessee; Steve and his wife, being recycled, and it’s Jan, live in Hawley; and being recycled in more Gary and his wife, Sheri, ways, and now with much live in Brainerd. Sandy better sorting equipment. loves spending time with “Recycling has changed them and her nieces and nephews. a lot,” says Sandy. “When we started with the recyShe’s a board member of the Recycling Association cling bins (in the late 1980s) just four products went in of Minnesota, Minnesota Household Hazardous Waste there.” Regional Coordinators Association and the Household Now, in addition to the basic metal, plastic, glass Hazardous Waste RPM Education Committee. She’s and cardboard, everything from electronics to fluoresalso a past board member of the Minnesota Association cent bulbs to tetrahedron (Tetra Pak) juice and bullion for Environmental Education. cartons is recycled locally. Locally, Sandy was a founding member of the “I think I have the best job in the county. We get to non-profit environmental educational organization, help people keep the waste out of the wastestream,” Natural Innovations, and a board member of the she says. “You can reduce waste by buying it in a difDetroit Lakes Boys and Girls Club and Boys and Girls ferent way, or reuse it or recycle it. Becker County resClub Thrift Store. idents and businesses have done a great job recycling.” “One of the best things about working in county If businesses have a product they would like to recygovernment is serving the people,” she says. “Our cle, Sandy is willing to take a look at it and explore the employees do a really good job of helping people if potential market. they can.” § “Ag plastics is pretty new,’ she says. “We have 30
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WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 29
-Woman in Education-
Longtime vocal music teacher, director and producer has instilled her love of song into generations of Lakers By Vicki Gerdes email@example.com
Kathy Larson has been a vocal music instructor for Detroit Lakes Public Schools since 1982. She has also directed the annual fall musical for 26 years, as well as the biennial Madrigal Dinners. PAGE 30 | WOMEN 3600
ince the early 1980s, Glenwood native Kathy Larson has been an integral part of the local music scene in Detroit Lakes. She first taught voice at Detroit Lakes Middle School, then served as vocal music director at Detroit Lakes High School. She’s also directed the annual fall musical for years, as well as the biennial Madrigal Dinners and her church choir, the First Lutheran Jubilate Adult Choir. “This fall is my 26th year of directing, producing and vocal directing fall musicals,” says Kathy. “I also vocal directed two DLHS fall musicals before eventually taking on the role of director/producer/vocal director, so in reality, ‘Mamma Mia’ (the 2019 fall musical) is the 28th production I am working on for Detroit Lakes Public Schools.” “I have also directed numerous community and church productions,” she adds. In fact, her work and volunteer activities all pretty much revolve around music and musical theater, Kathy says — and it’s a passion that began at a very early age. Though her nine siblings are all musically inclined to some degree, she recalls that she was the one who would spend nearly every Friday night of her childhood years singing and playing her trumpet alongside her parents. “I come from a very musical family,” she says. “My mom would play the violin, and my dad would play the banjo and the piano... he had a lovely singing voice, and could yodel beautifully. He played a lot in different bands when he was growing up. They both had incredible ears for music.” While each of her seven brothers and two sisters inherited some of that talent, Kathy was the one who
would end up forging a career out of her lifelong love of music. “Playing and singing along with my parents every Friday night, that’s how I grew up,” she says. “I was much more into it than my brothers and sisters. It was just something I always loved doing.”
DISCOVERING MUSICAL THEATER
The first time her parents brought her to see a local performance of the operetta “Hansel & Gretel,” she quickly realized that musical theater was her true passion. “I went home and decided to direct a production of it (the operetta she had just seen) in my neighbors’ garage, with my friends from the neighborhood,” she recalls. As soon as she was old enough to participate in theater herself, she auditioned for a part in “Cinderella” — and was cast in the title role. “I was in all of our high school musicals, and did quite a few summer shows through our local community theater in Glenwood,” she says. “I even remember writing and producing my own play when I was in sixth grade. My teacher was really supportive.” Though she doesn’t quite remember how the story went, “I’m sure it was a masterpiece,” Kathy says, laughing as she adds little air quotes with her fingers. “I actually kind of wish I could get my hands on a copy of it now. I have no idea what happened to it.” After finishing high school, Kathy went on to attend Concordia College in Moorhead, where she received a bachelor’s degree in music education. Her first teaching job was in Northome, Minn., a small town located east
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Kathy (second from right), with her husband David (far right) and her brother, sister and nieces, after singing 'God Bless America' at a Minnesota Twins game at Target Field. of Red Lake in Koochiching County. “I taught both vocal and instrumental music, K-12 ,” she says, adding that she became certified to teach both band and choir during her time at Concordia. After about a year at Northome, she moved south to Detroit Lakes, where she took a job teaching vocal music at the middle school. “I was there for quite a few years before I went to the high school,” she says. “I’ve really enjoyed teaching both middle and high school students.” In the summer when she’s not teaching, she does have at least one other -Kathy hobby: gardening. “In the summer I love to garden — both vegetables and flowers,” says Kathy. “I have a large flower garden and love to grow plants. My parents taught me a wonderful appreciation for the beauty of nature and just a love of growing beautiful flowers and a wonderful garden.” “I have also been known to can dill pickles — my mother’s secret recipe,” she adds. “They are incredibly delicious pickles! I also love to freeze corn and make homemade jam, rhubarb pie and rhubarb sauce — we have a very large rhubarb patch in our backyard. I also have a large raspberry patch that provides us with delicious raspberries.” PAGE 32 | WOMEN 3600
‘I’ve made some lifelong friends’
Though she didn’t really expect to spend most of her career teaching in the same school district, Kathy says she has no regrets. “I just fell in love with this place,” she says of Detroit Lakes. “The community, the school, and especially the kids. It might sound corny, or cliche, but it’s true … It’s just been an absolute joy to teach them. I’ve been privileged. And I’ve made some lifelong friends.” One of those friends is Madalyn Sukke, who has been volunteering to create Larson costumes for the annual fall musicals for almost as long as Kathy has been directing them. “We are so privileged to have Kathryn Larson as our high school vocal, musical and madrigal director,” Sukke says. “The energy and care she pours into her students is incredible, and the results are amazing. She has the ability to bring out the best in her student musicians and gives them the confidence to achieve wonderful things, in high school and beyond.” Mark Everson, who has known Kathy for more than 30 years as a friend and co-director of the fall musicals, says she’s leaving quite a legacy as a teacher.
Playing (music) and singing along with my parents every Friday night, that’s how I grew up... It was just something I always loved doing.
WE GET IT. Submitted Photo
Kathy and David with their daughter, Chelsea, during a visit to New York City several years ago. “You could marvel at the college-level quality of her high school choirs, the consistent superior ratings at choir contests, the performances at Orchestra Hall or Lincoln Center, or the high level positions she has held in top-notch choral organizations such as the American Choral Conductors Association or Minnesota Music Educators Association,” he says. “It is seen in her selection as a conductor for the Minnesota All-State Women’s Choir, or the excellence of her award-winning Detroit Lakes Public Schools Musicals.” “But all of that is not really who Kathy Larson is,” Everson adds. “Those things are just the result of who she is. Kathy’s legacy is really shown in her students. They are who she has committed her entire adult life to. Kathy revels in the success of her students. Not just in music but in whatever they chose to do with their lives. That is her identity, and it shows in the relationships and connections she has forged with hundreds of them over the past nearly 40 years.” Carol Nustad, another longtime friend who serves as production manager for the musicals, adds that Kathy, “touches so many lives, but I don’t think she sees the impact she has on others. She is an outstanding teacher. She truly cares about her students and serves as an example and resource for them long after they graduate. She is passionate about music and she conveys that passion daily.” Nustad says Kathy “is also a trusted and loyal friend. She is always ready to offer support, encouragement or congratulations. I am blessed to be her friend.”
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RETIREMENT? NOT JUST YET
As for when she might be willing to take her final curtain call, Kathy says, “I’m going to have to retire someday, maybe in the not-too-distant future. I really hate to admit it, but I’m starting to feel my age a little.” But at present, Kathy says, she has made no plans to call it quits: “I really do still love it. I love the sound of good, quality choral literature. I also really love church music. And I love the challenge, the process of casting shows, of finding just the right fit.” What she doesn’t like is having to tell someone they didn’t get the part they wanted. “When I have to tell them ‘No,’ when I have to let them down,” she says. “That’s the worst.” At the same time, it remains a dream of hers to spend a season or two as a casting director on Broadway. “I would love to try that,” she says. §
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WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 33
-Woman in Agriculture-
BARB SCHLAUDERAFF A dairy family matriarch beloved for bringing hot food and warm smiles out to the folks on the farm By Nathan Bowe firstname.lastname@example.org
Nathan Bowe / Women 360
Barb tends to flowers on the front porch of her home. Gardening is one of her favorite hobbies.
ou might say Barb Schlauderaff has milk in her veins. The rural Detroit Lakes woman has been involved in dairy farming since she was a little girl on her parents’ dairy farm, located “right over the hill” from the same farm where she now lives, just off 230th Avenue south of Forest Hills Golf and RV Resort. Her husband, Gary, also grew up on a dairy farm in the area, and both graduated from Detroit Lakes High School in the early 1970s. “We were on the same school bus,” Barb says. They make a good team, and were even named Becker County’s 2009 Valley Farmer and Homemaker by the Minnesota Red River Valley Development Association. It was only fitting that Barb was busy recently makPAGE 34 | WOMEN 3600
ing 10 dozen tres leches (“three milk” in Spanish) cupcakes for a friend’s wedding. The cake is soaked in three kinds of milk — evaporated, condensed, and heavy cream — and she was making ornate fondant cupcake toppers in the kitchen, one of her favorite rooms in the house. “I spend a lot of time in the kitchen,” she says with a smile. “She’s always busy; she always has something going on,” says her son, Casey. “I don’t know how she finds time for the extra things she does — keeping the yard and gardens nice, cooking projects, and if there’s a big party to throw, she always goes way above and beyond what people expect with the food.” She’s known for her custom-baked cookies and home-baked goods, and makes and delivers hot lunch-
well and are healthy. es to the farm workers during harvest time. They get to dine on meals like lasagna, or scalloped potatoes There’s no question that Barb contributed to the with ham and oatmeal creme pie, or beef stew with family’s work ethic, Casey says. She used to do the apple bars. milking seven days a week. She grew up on a dairy “It used to always be hot sandwiches and cookies farm with parents that came from the Depression era, or bars, but last year I started doing more,” she says. so she learned to work hard and just keep on working, “Every night when these people are chopping I make a in good times and bad. meal and tailgate it to them.” If you lived through the Great Depression, “Even “A couple of the guys last night said, ‘We need to get if you had success, you wouldn’t enjoy it,” he says. you a food truck,’” so the meals could be served three “That’s just not how you do things. You just work times a day, she adds with a laugh. and maybe take a couple hours off between chores at The Schlauderaff family has a big farming operation, home.” which fully employs three of their four sons: Chad, Casey says his parents worked hard their whole lives, Casey and Kory. The fourth and that’s why it’s good son, Kelly, is a Certified to see them now enjoying Public Accountant at High their winters in Florida. Point Networks in Detroit “I used to do all the Lakes, and helps out at morning milking,” seven times with the books. days a week, Barb says. “We’re a family farm, “Almost 17 years ago we but there’s five families purchased the other dairy involved,” Barb says. in Vergas. We went from With the help of about 150 cows to 650 cows — a dozen employees, the it’s a big dairy.” extended family operates a She can’t do the milking 650-cow dairy farm in the anymore. Too many years Vergas area, has another From the Video, Submitted of using the heavy milk350 young cows near ForThe Schlauderaff family was featured in a recent Cass- ing machines left her with est Hills, and maybe 250 Clay Creamery commercial. Pictured is a still from the vid- shoulder and rotator cuff dairy steers (feeders) at injuries. Fortunately, she eo, showing Barb feeding a calf. the Glawe farm. doesn’t have to. “We rent all their land “We (the family) work and all their facilities,” together very well,” she Barb says adding, “I don’t says. “There are disagreemess with the steers, I ments sometimes, but the stick to the cows.” boys have what each one is They grow corn and good at.” alfalfa for the animals and All four of their sons are soybeans to sell. And the married: Chad and Jennifer family does custom corn have two children; Casey chopping and hay chopand Paige have three chilping for other farmers, dren; Kelly and Jamaica making it into silage and have five kids; and Kory packing it in piles to preand Lindsey have three serve it. Those tarped piles Tribune File Photo held down by old tires that Barb and Gary Schlauderaff were named the 2009 Becker kids. These days, Barb and you see on farms are silage County Farmer and Homemaker of the Year by the MinneGary look forward to takpiles, she explains. sota Red River Valley Development Association. ing their camper to Flor“We’re diversified,” she ida before the snow flies. says. “We have to be, with But there’s always a lot of work to be done in autumn milk prices and equipment prices what they are. Doing before that can happen. the custom chopping has allowed us to be more effiAgriculture is always a gamble, but at this point cient.” “dairy is looking rosier than the rest of the sector Running a farm is no simple matter. now,” Casey said. Excess production has dried up and “We do a lot of commodities futures, milk futures, prices have been going up. “This year was better than we buy a tanker load of fuel,” says Barb. last year, and next year is supposed to be better yet, But the boys mostly run the farming operation now. but we’ll see what happens,” he said. She and Gary are in their 60s, and have stepped On the plus side, Barb got to be in a recent Cass-Clay back a bit from the daily grind, although that doesn’t Creamery commercial, one of two that focused on the mean they aren’t working: In addition to cooking and Schlauderaff dairy operation. catering chores, for example, Barb is a part-time feeder, and sometimes spends 3 to 4 hours a day bringing “‘Shares’ on Facebook were going like crazy when it milk to the young cows and making sure they’re eating first came out,” she says with a smile. § WOMEN 3600 | PAGE 35
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