Kevin Schoessow has been an Agriculture Development Educator in Spooner, working under the auspicious of the University of Wisconsin's Cooperative Extension Service since 1999.
You might know him as the facilitator and coordinator of the UW-Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program or head of the Teaching & Display Garden located at the Spooner Agriculture Research Station, which was his idea, or the guy you see with his table displays at community events, tribal and local government meetings and events.
He's also the guy on the phone that answers all the regular and all the odd-ball questions someone might have like, is there any merit to growing the alternative crops that are being introduced like hazelnuts or industrial hemp?
He answers questions about self-subsistence lifestyles; is it possible? The questions might also be about bees, weeds, trees or berries. He never knows who will ask what question and he keeps a notebook on his desk to keep track of his calls and who he needs to get back to with further information.
He holds educational workshops, field-days, seminars, and conferences. He's also involved with school and community gardens and a wide variety of various other jobs. Like youth teaching tractor and machinery safety
He's the guy that farmers, local vegetable and fruit growers and greenhouse owners or someone thinking of starting a small agriculture business might call to find information on what grows best in this area, which gives him great pleasure and a sense of pride when he sees their businesses flourishing.
An Ag. guy from way back with a Master's Degree in soils, he loves being able to interact with all kinds of people to help them find the answers to their dilemmas by connecting them with the experts if he doesn't have the immediate responses. Everyone who knows him sees how busy he is, but here are Twenty One Things about him that you might not know.
- My first paid job was at an apple orchard. In the spring I picked up tree branch prunings from under the tree and put them in the middle of the tree rows. Many years later I’m teaching apple pruning as part of my job and still find myself picking up apple tree branch prunings.
- My K12 education took me to 5 different schools.
- My love for agriculture/horticulture started at a young age gardening with my mother and visiting my ‘retired' grandparent's farm. I have many fond memories of visiting my farmer grandparents in their fieldstone farmhouse built in the 1860's and exploring the vacant farm building of their 80 acre farm, complete with the machine shed, garage and tool shed, smokehouse, pig barn, chicken coop, and of course the old bank barn that housed the granary, and hay loft above the 25 stanchion diary stalls and horse stalls and calf pens. The milk house contained the well and milk can cooler trough.
- We later moved to a ‘hobby farm' property of our own with many of the same old farm buildings, a big old farmhouse with two staircases and not one, but two connected bank barns. I was in heaven exploring those buildings and reminiscing about all the past farming activities that took place there. One of my favorite past-times was circling the interior of the barn by climbing on the hand-hewn oak beams.
- My first agriculture enterprise was raising pigs. I purchased two crossbred feeder pigs from an older bachelor pig farmer. With the help of my dad and two burlap ‘gunnysacks' and an empty cargo van we got the pigs home, (not after one escaped and left a manure mess in the clean van interior). They were fed on kitchen and garden scraps, and pig feed ground at the local feed mill with hand-harvest cob corn I gleaned from neighbor farm fields.
- An ice storm introduced me to the living off the grid for seven days and the nostalgia of keeping warm in front of a recently installed pot-bellied wood stove.
- That same potbellied stove helped created a life-long interest in spending time in the woods, cutting firewood and enjoying the serenity of being outside, especially in the fall and winter.
- 4-H and FFA projects kept my agriculture and interests in hands-on projects going, but I must say I never made the connection to the bigger picture of just how vital and influential those two organizations are in shaping young peoples lives.
- A few noteworthy people in my life who have influenced me and provided direction in my life: parents and immediate family (of course), H.S. VoAg teacher, H.S. Biology teacher, H.S. Chemistry teacher, undergraduate chemistry professors, soils science professor and advisors, my best friend, my college boarding ‘house mother’, my graduate school advisor and soils professor, and a handful of work colleagues along the way.
- My first time flying in jet-airplane was to attend to the National Association of Interscholastic Athletics (NAIA) outdoor track and field championships where I competed in the 10K race walk event. One of my fellow competitors went on to compete in the men’s 50 K race walk at the summer Olympics.
- For whatever strange reason I have not chewed gum for over 20 years (at least that I recall).
- I once appeared in a political television ad campaign. I was filmed shaking hands with the elected official at a Dairy Breakfast.
- One of my many personality flaws is I am seldom short on words… Ask me what time it is, and I will tell you how to build a watch.
- One of the most rewarding events in my life was marrying my wife and raising our daughter.
- One of the most challenging events in my life is marriage and raising our daughter.
- I once worked as a Microscopist in a Research & Development Lab using an instrument called an interferometer.
- Until I married my wife, I never really appreciated the concept of a family business much less a family dairy farm business. There are few occupations that have the intensive demands of milking cows twice a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. I have deep respect for those that choose that lifestyle.
- Some of my past hobbies included collecting things (stamps, coins, old vehicle license plants, beer cans, model cars, matchbox cars, marbles, football and baseball cards and comic books). My mother taught me how to macramé, sew, cook, clean a toilet and a whole bunch of other useful things (many which I'm no longer very good at), and she instilled in me my love of the outdoors and adventure.
- One of the best perks of working my job is the personal and professional development opportunities and the never-ending search to understand the world around us. One of my mottoes is "You are Never too Old to Learn Something New."
- I still like to curl up in front of a warm fire or sit in a comfy chair and read a book.
- Even though they may not appreciate it, my best friends are my wife and daughter.
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