Wisconsin dairy farmer thanks two women for ag inspiration

Wisconsin dairy farmer thanks two women for ag inspiration
Mar 06, 2023

Katy Schultz’s mom and one of her teachers helped develop her ag passion

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

With International Women’s Day on the horizon, Farms.com is speaking with female farmers about various topics, including who their ag heroes are.

For Katy Schultz, who runs Tri-Fecta Farms, a 430-cow, 2,000-acre dairy and cash crop farm in Fox Lake, Wis., with her brother Nick and sister Kari, two women in her life come to mind she considers her ag role models.

The first person is her mom, Cheryl.

Cheryl didn’t grow up on a farm and learned multiple farm tasks in the moment.

“She literally picked up skills as she came along on the journey with my dad (Keven),” Katy told Farms.com. “Whether it was driving a tractor, milking cows of hauling silage wagons. Whatever needed to be done, she got it done.”

The other person Schultz views as an ag hero is an educator.

Tari Costello, Schultz’s ag teacher at Waupun High School, who also grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, is a staple of the local ag community.

“She breathes passion into the agriculture community,” Schultz said. “To see how many lives she’s touched in just unbelievable. She has single-handedly changed this community by bringing students into agriculture that would have never thought about it, and helping students who grew up in ag remain in the industry.”

Schultz was indeed one of those students.

During her time in high school, and even before that, she planned to attend the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to pursue an education in criminal justice.

“When I was 12-years-old, I wanted to be a police officer,” she said.

But conversations with her parents and Costello steered her towards ag, which she didn’t think was for her.

Costello “recognized the passion I had to pour back into this industry and community,” Schultz said. “The conversations were difficult because at 18-years-old, I had in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to be a farmer. I’ve seen how much work it is and how time consuming it is and thought I didn’t want to live that same lifestyle. But I’m so thankful she saw something in me because now I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

Schultz graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2007 with a dairy business degree.

But she didn’t come home to the farm full-time right away.

Instead, she did marketing and communications for a dairy nutrition company. In 2012 she left that job to work at the farm full-time.

Schultz needed time to figure out where she wanted to apply herself in agriculture. And she wants other young women in ag to know that it’s okay not to have all the answers at once.

“Take the time to figure out what you’re passionate about and don’t stop learning,” she said. “Things in ag continue to evolve at a rapid pace. You have to be learning at a rate that’s faster than the industry is changing.”

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