By Kerry Drager
This year’s Todd County Farm Family award has been presented to Kim Harff and Mike Motl of Browerville due to their years of dedication to agriculturally centered programs in their community. The couple has spent nearly 50 years promoting an understanding and respect for agriculture in their area’s youth.
Although the couple has been involved in many programs, their time with 4-H has been a center point in their lives.
Their participation in 4-H began in the early 1970s. Motl spent many years as a dairy coach in several counties. They have leased dairy calves and goats to kids, and have assisted them in their growth and understanding in caring for the animals. Harff spent 15 years helping young ladies learn to sew through 4-H.
“I was in 4-H from the time I graduated high school ‘til about two years ago. There has never been a time that I wasn’t involved in 4-H in the past 48 years,” said Motl.
While they raised their two daughters, Emma and Ann, the couple was also active in the Dairy Princess program. Harff was a princess coordinator and responsible for setting up events for the girls. Some of these events included parades and working the malt wagon. They also visited every third-grade classroom and nursing home in the county.
“The girls would visit the residents living in the nursing home and would serve them ice cream. Lots of those folks are retired farmers, and it’s a highlight for them to be visited by the princesses. It’s always nice to be served ice cream by a dairy princess wearing a crown,” said Harff.
Emma and Ann’s time as princesses taught them valuable skills that will continue to be an asset to them as they complete college and find careers. These young ladies graduated high school with honors. Emma is pursuing a degree in the medical field, and Ann is attending law school.
“The Dairy Princess program helps them grow and mature. It teaches them how to speak before the public on dairy farming issues. It’s nice to see them communicate on how dairy agriculture works with the public,” said Harff.
When the girls graduated from school and left for college, the couple moved on from 4-H and the Dairy Princess program and began focusing on other community service projects.
“We feel that the younger people should step up that have kids in the program. They should be more involved,” said Harff.
Motl is currently an officer of the Staples FFA. He has been assisting the school district so that they may continue to teach agricultural programs.
Harff has participated as a veterinarian for the county fairs and has made caring for animals her career. She has been employed at a Staples veterinary clinic for 31 years. She is also the only woman that is serving on the feed scoreboard at their local co-op. They are one of the smallest co-ops in the Upper Midwest.
“Even though our county is rural, there is still a lot of people that aren’t involved in agriculture,” said Motl.
Shortly after being awarded Farm Family of the Year, Motl was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, which affects the body’s ability to flow blood through the veins. He spent over a week in the hospital and is now recovering.
Due to Motl’s illness and their farm hand retiring last December, they have decided to sell their 85 head of milking cows. They now raise dairy youngstock and continue to crop farm.
“I had one of the best guys working for me. Dave Erbe was really good, and after you get someone good, it’s hard to replace. I wouldn’t mind milking for another six years, but I’m not about to worry about who’s coming and who’s not showing up,” said Motl.
With their daughters well on their way to becoming successful adults and their farm becoming a bit easier to maintain, the couple can sit back and reflect on all the hard work they have put into their community. It is this time and effort that has earned them the Todd County Farm Family of the Year.