Winter named Extension Educator of the Year

Nathan Winter, Extension educator in McLeod and Meeker counties, was named the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation’s Extension Educator of the Year.

Nathan Winter

HUTCHINSON — Surprise.

That's the word Nathan Winter, Extension educator in McLeod and Meeker counties, used to describe how he felt after being named the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation's Extension Educator of the Year.

"As with anything else, you're almost always surprised when something like this comes to fruition," said Winter, who lives in Hutchinson with his wife, Kelly, and their two children, daughter, Matilyn, and son, Jack.

Winter has been with Extension for the past decade, and described himself as a bit of a "jack of all trades."

"My primary area of expertise is crop production systems," Winter said, "including commodity crops and forages. I also coordinate and put together livestock programming. Beyond that, I also do horticulture and master gardening programs, too."


Winter's day-to-day interaction with farmers involves information they need to make important decisions.

"We talk about input selections, fertilizers, seed, soil and pest management. I even help out with pesticide recertification programs during the winter, too," he said. "I also do a lot of event coordination and bring in a lot of speakers, including a lot of state level speakers, and I do some teaching.

"It's our duty to make sure that whatever hot topics are out get addressed on a regular basis," Winter added.

Topics in McLeod and Meeker counties include resistant weeds. He fields calls from people with questions covering the gamut from crop production to farm business management to land rental rates. The variety in his job keeps it interesting.

"I really like different aspects of agriculture," Winter said. "In the winter, it's a lot of educational events, and making sure things happen locally near farmers and other ag professionals. In the spring, I'm working with corn grower variety plots, getting the seed in, making sure it's delivered, and putting data out to the clients or customers."

Because of the recent drop in commodity prices, he said it's more important than ever to provide producers with the right information as they put together plans during the winter.

"We have so much we don't control in the crop production cycle," Winter said. "We do have control over what we buy, like seed selection, our fertilizer and applications, what soil test we want and even which products will work in a given situation. The wrong product choice means you'll spend money that you won't end up getting back."

After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural education, Winter spent the first three years of his career with the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association. He grew up on a corn and soybean farm near Fulda.

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