Teresa Hanson channels her energy for agriculture into building the membership of young Farm Bureau members. Her strong athletic drive and thirst for adrenaline has also propelled her into the boxing ring.
“I’ve been told I could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in a white dress,” she said with a laugh while describing her drive and career path.
As a dairy nutritionist for Spooner-based Crystal Creek, she sells animal health supplements to dealers across much of the nation and provides nutritional assistance to livestock owners. As an agricultural education major at UW-River Falls she considered teaching agriculture to high school students, but pursued her interest in human and animal nutrition instead.
“I get to educate those that really want to be taught,” she said of her farmer clients. “I feel like I’m helping the dairy industry, and have a more direct relationship than I would otherwise.”
“I’m thankful that Crystal Creek agreed to let me serve as the YFA chair after being chosen as the chair-elect by my fellow YFA Committee members in 2011,” Hanson said. “They see the potential for personal and professional growth.”
Her road to leading the state YFA Committee and serving one year on the WFBF Board of Directors was not a common one.
One of her college roommates was Wendy Kannel, who works today as WFBF’s District 9 Coordinator in northwest Wisconsin. It was just a few years ago when Kannel approached her about serving as YFA chair for District 9. District 9 lacked active members who met the YFA Committee’s 18-35-year-old age requirement. Yet Hanson willingly lept into the ring and quickly realized the opportunities and potential. She focused immediately on membership by reconnecting with old 4-H and FFA friends and hosting networking events.
“Farmers are out there, you just have to make them aware of what Farm Bureau has to offer,” she said. “This year 50 people from northwest Wisconsin attended the YFA Conference. Just three years ago there was hardly anyone from District 9 there.”
She now focuses on building stronger individual county YFA programs and hosting events all over the far-reaching district. As YFA chair she hopes to bridge the gap between YFA and more seasoned Farm Bureau members. She credits Dunn County Farm Bureau member Carl Casper with having a strong influence on her.
Having grown up on a Dunn County dairy farm with her parents, Loren and Diane, she has always been actively involved in something. FFA, 4-H, music and sports all competed for her time before graduating from Elk Mound High School in 2003. In college she was in the Associaton of Women in Agriculture, soccer, Excelling in Agriculture Ag Ed Society and was a founding member of the Sigma Alpha sorority.
After college she settled in the Washburn County community of Shell Lake.
“I had been on competitive teams since t-ball as a 5-year-old,” she said. “After college, I was missing that. I had never had to pay to work out before.”
“It wasn’t pushing me, so my trainer suggested a boxing class in 2011 as a way to train,” she said. “It turned out I was pretty good at it.”
Eventually she wanted to try a sanctioned, boxing match. Her first attempt was something of a disaster.
“She was much taller than me and there’s no way she weighed the same as me. It wasn’t brutal, as I protected myself, but it wasn’t fair,” she recalled. “She’s a professional now.”
“There’s only so many women in the 125-pound range who are looking to do this sort of thing in northern Wisconsin,” she added with a laugh.
She couldn’t retire with a 0-1 record, so she tried again and won.
“I had to prove it to myself,” she said. “I at least wanted a 1-1 record. I love the adrenilin, I just sort of wish it was in a safer manner.”
Busy with trade shows, meetings and her role with Farm Bureau, she’s hung up her boxing gloves.
Despite her diminutive appearance, Hanson says her family has seen the rough-and-tumble side to her for a long time. She has three siblings but shared a strong love-hate relationship with her younger brother. As kids the two would play tackle football.
“Mom says I’ve always been aggressive,” she added.
Story by Casey Langan. Original version appeared in the February/March 2013 issue of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Route.