Written by Jonathan Eisenthal
Julie and Jerry Demmer, Clarks Grove, Minn, were recently honored as a University of Minnesota (UMN) Gopher Hockey ‘Farm Family of the Game’. UMN and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) are honoring farm families this hockey season, spotlighting the importance of using best management practices that help preserve Minnesota’s rich natural resources.
In recognition for their conservation work, UMN hosted the Demmer family at a men’s hockey game this past month. Julie and Jerry took three of their grand kids along for the evening at Mariucci Arena: Danica (9), Bridget (8), and Cael (4), all thoroughly enjoyed their first big time hockey game.
“It was a great game, we were sitting right near the University band,” says Jerry. “When the Gophers would score a goal, everyone would stand up. The fans would sing the fight song. Bridget is the kind of kid who doesn’t hold back. By the second goal, she jumped right in and started singing the fight song, too.”
Bridget might’ve been in a celebrating mood; a day earlier she celebrated her birthday. But the biggest highlight of the game for Bridget was getting to ride the Zamboni with Goldy Gopher.
“When they strapped her into the seat on the Zamboni, I told her, ‘Make sure you wave Bridget’, say Jerry. “I don’t think she stopped waving!”
The Demmer family is the fourth farm family to have been honored this season by UMN. MCGA and UMN share a long history in the areas of research, conservation practices and economic impact.
“The next generation is really going to have a lot of opportunity to make use of all the conservation innovations that we’re seeing now,” Demmer noted. “The biggest barrier for many young farmers is poor crop prices and, in turn, that limits your ability to make investments in new technology.”
That’s where Demmer’s grassroots work with the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council comes in.
Demmer serves on the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council (MCR&PC), an organization that invests in research to help corn farmers reduce their impact on the environment and add value to their product by developing new markets for corn. Using corn in sustainable biopolymers, as feed for fresh shrimp, and to make human foods using distillers’ dried grains are just a few examples of how corn farmer-funded research is working to expand market opportunities.
“We’ve come a long way in corn farming since I started 45 years ago, both in how we grow the crop and what we use it for,” says Demmer. “We’re always looking for ways to improve our conservation practices and new market opportunities, so we can be both environmentally and financially sustainable.”