MCGA member receives national honor from Agriculture Future of America

Minnesota Corn Growers Association member Joel Mathiowetz was awarded the Agriculture Future of America “Young Leader in Agriculture” award. The Morgan, Minn., farmer received the award for his longtime contributions to agriculture and youth development.

Mathiowetz, who raises corn, soybean, peas and lambs, is a fifth generation farmer and a member of AFA for more than 20 years. When Mathiowetz first joined AFA it was an opportunity to speak with other farmer leaders during an economic downturn for farmers in 1998.

“The economy was struggling much like it is today,” Mathiowetz said. “It helped to get around others and get that different perspective and insight at a time when the industry was down.”

Through his passion for agriculture, Mathiowetz has went on to join a number of organizations in addition to MCGA and AFA, including 4-H, FFA, Farm Bureau and various county organizations.

Mathiowetz won the award for his focus on growing the next generation by being an active member in each organization while also serving as a mentor to younger, future farmers.

With the help of matching funds from AFA, Mathiowetz started a scholarship fund in his home Redwood County and nearby Renville Country. Since beginning the program, more than 40 kids have received scholarship funding.

Mathiowetz also travels speaking to future leaders of agriculture at colleges nationwide. He has spoken to nearly 600 students in all about a variety of topics in modern agriculture.

To raise interest locally, Mathiowetz is the director of the Minnesota Ag in the Classroom Foundation, which raises funds for the program dedicated to increasing agricultural literacy in the classroom. While the Minnesota Department of Agriculture funds two Minnesota Ag in the Classroom employees to carry out its curriculum, Mathiowetz and the foundation secure additional funds to help the program grow.

Mathiowetz joins past recipients who include Dr. Norman Borlaug, as well as a number of leading researchers, ag organization leaders, and of course farmers. Mathiowetz considers it an honor to be part of the distinguished group.

“It is very humbling. I don’t believe what I do is really all that extraordinary, but really just giving back to something that has given so much to me,” he said.

California produce grower and shipper Arthur Kawamura was honored with Mathiowetz as the recipient of the traditional AFA Leader in Agriculture Award. Mathiowetz’ honor was specific to those under 40 years old. Both will be recognized at the AFA Leaders Conference and Alliance Forum in Kansas City Nov. 2-6.

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