Wednesday, August 28, 2013
8-29-13 fdl county extension agent milestone
Ann Kaiser started her career with UW-Extension in 1978. A quick 35 years later, she is the indispensable Administrative Secretary for the Fond du Lac County UW-Extension staff. When she began, her equipment included a typewriter, White-Out, and a mimeograph machine. The first computer in the office arrived in the 1980s and was shared by all the staff. Later, one of Kaiser’s duties was to print everyone’s e-mail messages on a dot matrix printer and distribute them. Originally hired to assist the 4-H program, Kaiser became the office manager and support staff for Family Living education. She is supporting 4-H again and enjoys interacting with leaders, members and parents. A more public face on the UW-Extension staff is that of Mike Rankin. As a crops and soils agent, Rankin works with farmers and agribusinesses to improve crop production and profitability. This August, he has been on the job for 25 years in Fond du Lac County. Need a spreadsheet on the value of straw and corn stalk fertilizer? Wondering about inoculant and fungicide use in no-till soybeans? Rankin answers questions about forages, corn, soybeans, winter wheat, and other crops. He personifies the Cooperative Extension mission: To apply university research to real-life practice. For instance, Rankin has been collecting data on statewide alfalfa yield and persistence over several years. He has evaluated the economic viability of fungicide use. He has helped County residents deal with droughts, floods, and diseased crops. In fact, he has spoken in numerous states, and both Canada and Mexico, at agricultural conferences. Local gardeners recognize Rankin because he oversees the Master Gardener training. Out of the public eye, he mentors newer agriculture agents and guides them through the University’s tenure process. Rankin grew up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where he “learned a lot from baling hay, cleaning box stalls and milking cows.” He earned a degree in Dairy Science, followed by a M.S. degree in Agronomy, from Iowa State University. When he’s not in a farmer’s field, Rankin is either on a baseball field or watching one. He is a devoted Brewers fan and a long-time Little League coach. He and his wife Nancy live in Malone.