“The professionalism of how that meeting is handled really opened my eyes and made me yearn to be involved,” he recalled.
Now 41, Kevin’s involvement culminated at last December’s WFBF Annual Meeting with his peers electing him to a three-year term on the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Board of Directors. He represents Farm Bureau’s District 5 (Adams, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Juneau, Marquette, Waushara and Winnebago counties). He succeeded Bill Bruins of Waupun who had represented the area since 1988.
“I’ve always been interested in agriculture and have always wanted to be involved in our industry,” said Kevin, who served five years as the Waushara County Farm Bureau President.
“I’ve always had a love for Farm Bureau since it showed me the professional side of the agriculture industry at a very young age,” he said.
His interest in helping with the regulatory side of farming has motivated him to annually attend Ag Day at the Capitol in Madison and travel to Washington, D.C. several times to meet with lawmakers.
Kevin bought his parents’ herd of 60 (mostly) registered Holsteins in 1994. Five years later he built a new milking parlor and free-stall barn for an expanded herd of 350 cows at a site northeast of Berlin and a half mile down State Highway 21 from where he grew up. Another 200 cows were added to the milking string in 2007. The herd is milked three times daily. Kevin estimates the farm produces about 75 percent of the herd’s feed needs.
A few more registered cattle are being added to the herd now that his children are showing cattle as 4-H members.
Kevin and his wife, Holly, first met at their county fair as nine year old 4-H members. She grew up on a dairy farm near Poy Sippi, where her father and brother still farm. The Krentzes have three sons: Marcus, 13; Trevor, 12; and Isaac, 5.
With 14 employees, their farm’s size requires that both of them take on managerial roles. In addition to management, Holly also focuses on calf care. The Krentzes have hosted county dairy breakfasts and been active with their church and 4-H. They won the Young Farmer and Agriculturist Achievement Award in 2005.
“Farm Bureau offers so many opportunities for its younger members to better themselves in their careers, no matter what field they are in,” Holly said.
Kevin is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Farm and Industry Short Course and Farm Bureau’s Institute leadership training course. Locally, he has served on the Town of Aurora’s Board of Supervisors for seven years, currently as chairman. On the state level, he served on the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s raw milk task force. He credits the three years he spent on the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) Board of Directors as a major building block in his leadership development.
Kevin conducts Ag in the Classroom activities in area schools and welcomes area schools for farm tours, including all Berlin second graders. He says school farm tours are also a chance to make an impression on the teachers, parents and chaperones.
Despite its rural feel, Kevin said many people living in Waushara County’s small towns “don’t realize what goes on around them (on farms) or the economic impact.”
With just one high school with an agricultural program in Waushara County, it is one of Kevin’s goals to develop a presentation about agriculture that he can give at high schools.
Hosting foreign interns and 4-H members is another way the Krentzes educate others about agriculture. Kevin says while working at the PDPW’s World Dairy Expo booth he met a man from the Philippines who came there to find work on a Wisconsin dairy farm. Today that former employee has a dairy science degree and teaches at a university in the Philippines. The Krentzes have since hosted two Costa Rican interns and Mexican and Japanese 4-H members through a youth exchange.
Kevin recalls that the Japanese boy did not speak English, but he and his son, Marcus, “communicated through charades.” They remain in contact today via email and Marcus has a open invitation to visit Japan.
“It’s really good for the kids to experience different cultures, lifestyles and food from around the world,” Kevin said.
Story by Casey Langan. Original version appeared in the June/July 2013 issue of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Route.