Med City Freeze win their opener on a blustery night

The Med City Freeze football opener was both a challenge and success as well. First off, the goal of any sport is to win the game and the Freeze did just that, 20-0 over the North Iowa Hawks.  The victory made the return of the Southern Plains Football League to Rochester official.

The weather was indeed the biggest challenge.  Cold, blustery, rain, sprinkles, and a wet bum as fans sat on bleachers made for a rough night for the folks in attendance.  I have no doubt that the attendance would have been much better with nicer weather, but Mother Nature evidently missed the memo that there was a game tonight.

Med City Freeze opener

Three Rochester John Marshall graduates spearheaded the effort to bring amateur football back to Rochester. From left: Jeff Sipple, Tim Nela, and Storm Soto. (photo by Chad Smith)

Hats off the a whole lot of people who put in a lot of work to get the program going in Rochester, but a big tip of the cap to Storm Soto, Tim Nela, and Jeff Sipple for bringing nine-man football action back to town. These three are all from Rochester and spearheaded the work that brought spring football back to the area.

As I sat and watched the action for about an hour (hey, it was cold, all right?) I saw some good things.  I saw balance on offense and a Med City Freeze defense that forced one turnover and nearly had another.  I saw some great hits from both defenses. I saw some mistakes, but honestly, some of that had to do with the wet weather and a slick football.  The weather looked a lot more tolerable because the game was taking place at the Rochester Community and Technical College football field.  I’ve never seen a more well-put together field at the Junior College level, and they take very good care of it.

I put together a few plays so you could get a taste of the action on Saturday night.  Again, the Med City Freeze won 20-0, and are back on their home field next week against the Southeast Minnesota Warhawks, who curiously play their home games in Carlisle, Iowa.  Love the name, though.




Med City Freeze debut on Saturday night

The Med City Freeze is set to make its Southern Plains Football League debut on Saturday night against the North Iowa Bucks. Kickoff is at 7:00 at the Rochester Community and Technical College Regional Stadium.

The last several weeks have involved practicing and getting the offensive and defensive systems in place, as well as getting a new team used to playing together. It’s been a lot of hard work for the Freeze to get to this point.

Practice a grind

“From the football aspect of things, it’s been a grind,” said Storm Soto, Med City Freeze co-founder, Team President, and tight end. “We extended some of our recent practices from two hours to three to get some good work in.

Med City Freeze make their debut.

The Med City Freeze, pictured at a recent practice, is getting set for their debut game on Saturday in Rochester against the North Iowa Bucks. Kickoff is at 7 at the RCTC football field.

“From the organizational side of things, we’re still working on things like getting sponsorships,” Soto said. “We’ve also been making commercials and things like that, and this final week before the game will involve getting things all set up.”

Dalton Haas is the offensive coordinator who runs the play calling. He’s a two-year league veteran as a player and was a Rochester John Marshall standout. He said practices really took off once the players really got the playbook down pat.

“Everyone is getting comfortable,” said Haas, “they don’t have to think about the plays called, they’re just going out and making plays. The transition from the first practice to the seventh was amazing with the number of big plays in practice.”

Players in good condition

There wasn’t a lot of extra conditioning work necessary as most players came into practice in good shape. That allowed the Freeze to really get to work on learning the plays.

“A majority came in good shape,” Soto said.   “You could tell a lot of guys put in extra work in on their own from the first week of practice up until now. I think we’re going to be one of the best conditioned teams in the league.”

Balance on offense

As the team has picked up the offensive playbook, it looks like the key word to describe their playing style is balance. Freeze fans should see a good mix of running and passing the football.

“You’ll see a good dose of the running game,” Soto said, “and our passing game will feature plays out of all of our formations and sets. Our passing style will be aggressive, and we’ve got the right players to do so.”

Fans will see all kinds of well-known football sets they see in other football leagues.

Med city Freeze make their debut.

It’s offense versus defense pictured here at a recent Med City Freeze practice. Physical and gritty is how they describe their style of play as they open the season Saturday in Rochester. Kickoff at RCTC field is 7:00.

“You’ll see a little bit of everything,” Haas said. “You’ll see Pro-I, shotgun, passing, running, with nothing to complicated, just being solid on the basics.”

Learning curve for new team

Getting a brand new team to learn to play together was a challenge. However, there might have been some benefits to being a brand new club.

“In a way, I think it was a good thing,” Haas said, “because everyone started at square one. Everyone was learning together, so the learning curve was equal for the whole team. It was a good bonding experience, because we had players who were catching on helping those who were a little behind.”

The Freeze is a brand new team this year, but they do have some Southern Plains Football League veterans to build around, including a couple players who helped to found the team.

“Storm Soto has played five years,” Haas said, “our quarterback, Jeff Sipple, has played four years, so we have some experience. We have a lot of people who’ve played at all levels, from high school all the way up to D1-AA, so we’ve got a lot of football experience overall.”

Physical style up front

The best way to describe this year’s team is physical and gritty, and its starts with the big boys up front.

“We’ve got guys up front that don’t mind getting after it and putting people on their butts,” Soto said. “Our defense will be physical, and in the secondary we have great length and speed. Linebackers are physical and they get to the football quickly.”

As mentioned, Dalton Haas is the OC. He and Brandon Luhmann handle the offense. Jordan Pogalz is the defensive coordinator and Jason Born is a defensive assistant.

First game keys

The goal against the North Iowa Bucks is obviously to win the game, but to get there, it’s going to be very important for a brand new club to make as few mistakes as possible.

Med City Freeze make their debut.

The RCTC football field in Rochester is the home field of the Yellowjackets, and will be the home field Saturday for the Med City Freeze in their Southern Plains Football League debut on Saturday at 7pm.

“Just the basics of not fumbling the football,” Haas said, “and each player just doing his assignments on not getting carried away. It’s all about fundamentals, and when that happens, everything else will fall into place. I think the biggest thing is we’re just anxious to get out and play someone else.”

With roster turnover from year to year, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect from North Iowa on Saturday.

“They have a lot of good talent over there,” Soto said, “but year in and year out it’s hard to tell because teams are always recruiting someone different, so it’s hard to get a scouting report. That first week is where you get your scouting reports, and then you trade notes with other organizations.

“The biggest key will be to put four good quarters together,” Soto said, “and fly around the field from start to finish.”

Admission is only $6 per person, and 13 and under gets in for free.









Spring planting will require patience, as usual

I thought we’d talk spring planting on the weekly podcast.  I wanted to introduce you to Ryan Martin, the owner of, and it’s not just because I work for him.  I was in radio a long time and read thousands of weather forecasts, and his is the most accurate I’ve seen in a long time.  No weather forecast will be 100 percent accurate, but a reliable forecast can be really hard to find nowadays.

Spring Planting

Ryan Martin of Warsaw, Indiana, is the Chief Meteorologist at Hoosier Ag Today, pictured here at a recent weather seminar. He’s also the owner of

I can remember during my last radio gig at KLGR radio in Redwood Falls there were more than a few times I’d read the weather forecast and have no idea where they were getting their information.  Just for the record, I wasn’t the only one that paused more than once due to confusion over what we had just read in the forecast.

Certain parts of the country have had spring planting challenges, and the challenge vary based upon where you are at.  The deep south has been wet, other areas have been extremely windy, and still others have been well below normal in terms of temperatures.  Let’s talk weather with Ryan, who happens to be the Chief Meteorologist for Hoosier Ag Today…tape

RCTC baseball road trip successful

The Rochester Community and Technical College baseball team is already 11 games into the season after a spring trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Yellowjackets won four of the games down south and played well in others.

As they get set to start the northern portion of their schedule, Jackets head coach Steve Hucke said they played some good baseball in South Carolina. The trip featured games against upper division junior college teams.

RCTC baseball

Rochester Community and Technical College baseball coach Steve Hucke (photo from

“We beat some good teams,” Hucke said. “We played primarily against junior college Division Two and Division One scholarship teams while we were down there. We beat a very good Cumberland team that usually battles for a shot to get to the national tournament every year.”

The Jackets would have liked to pick up a few more wins on the trip, but Hucke said the benefits of playing against top teams down south would carry through the rest of the season.

“The way we look at it is we want to play a tough schedule to get us prepared for the season up here,” Hucke said. “You learn a lot about your kids and the team, and the players even learn something about themselves too. It’s a win-win no matter what your record is down south.”

Some of the things he picked up down south include the potential for success at the plate. It also includes a team mentality that he’s happy to see.

“We have some good hitters,” said Hucke, “and we also have some depth. We do have to work on some relief pitching, but that’s going to come.

“The thing I learned the most is that this group is very competitive,” Hucke added. “They’re going to battle, and they don’t give up. There were games that we were behind in, but we rallied to pick up wins. I saw some good leadership from our group of sophomores.”

As Hucke filled out his batting order, he saw good production from top to bottom. The lineup is led by a returning All-American.

“We saw good production up and down the lineup,” Hucke said. “Dustin Nelson (C/OF from Mondovi, Wisconsin), a returning All-American from last year, had a good week down south. Damon Nuss (IF/P from Sumner, Iowa) hit the ball well, and so did Austin Baab (IF/P from Wabasha, MN.). Up and down the lineup, we were pretty consistent. If someone wasn’t hitting, someone else stepped up.”

As a two-year junior college program, sophomore leadership is important. He said nowhere is that leadership more apparent than on the pitcher’s mound.

“We’re strong in starting pitching,” Hucke said. “Depth isn’t the problem in our relief staff as we’ve got numbers. The challenge on the trip was having the confidence to go in there and shut somebody down to maintain what we have going.”

RCTC baseball

The RCTC baseball team opens the northern part of it’s spring schedule this week at Iowa Lakes Community College (Photo from

Defensively, the Yellowjackets made some errors early in the trip down south that may have cost them a game or two. By the end of the week, he said things had cleared up to the point that he’s not worried about their defense.

There are several players from southeast Minnesota who will get playing time this spring. They include:


Zachary Bakko of Northfield is a sophomore outfielder.


Arron Hohensee of Lewiston is a freshman outfielder.


Michael Sigrist of Byron is a freshman outfielder and pitcher. (Hucke said he’s not sure how much playing time Sigrist will receive as he’s battling a shoulder injury.)



RCTC softball heats up after slow start

RCTC softball heats up

The Yellowjackets softball team will host the CTC tournament this Friday and Saturday at the RCTC dome in Rochester, MN. (photo from

The Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets softball team is 7-10 on the season. Head Coach Niki Peterson said they’re playing good softball after a slow start to the spring.

The season schedule began with good competition against teams from Iowa, as well as a trip to South Carolina. The Jackets were 0-8 after returning from down south, but have won seven of their past nine games.

“Things have gotten better,” Peterson said. “It’s one of the things I’ve learned coaching junior college softball. It’s a two-year rotation with new people in every year instead of juniors and seniors to lead the way. It takes a little longer for them to acclimate to each other.”

RCTC softball coach Niki Peterson and her Yellowjackets are playing well right now.

RCTC softball coach Niki Peterson’s Yellowjackets have won seven of their last nine games as they get set to host the CTC Classic this Friday and Saturday at the RCTC Dome. (photo from

Peterson believes in playing a tougher schedule, which she says makes her team better in the long run. The Yellowjackets didn’t even play an NJCAA Division three team until they returned from South Carolina.

“We played four division two teams in our first tournament,” Peterson said. “We then played Division two, Division one, and one NAIA team when we went on our spring break trip to Myrtle Beach (South Carolina). Our record suffered a little because of it.”

She added, “However, our kids came into the games against the northern schools last week, and we outscored those teams 44-3 in three games.”

After committing multiple defensive errors during the trip south, Coach Peterson said the one area where the team has shown the most improvement is in their defense.

“We were missing McKayla Ahlrich (Sleepy Eye, MN), who’s our starting shortstop,” Peterson said. “She’s a basketball player. It took her a couple games to get comfortable as she hadn’t played since her senior year in high school, but she made a huge difference when she came on.

“We had a ton of errors early in the season,” she said. “We were beating ourselves. We did play some tough competition, but I think we could have hung with them better if our defense was cleaner.”

In addition to the defense, the hitting has picked up considerably as well.

“Christina Stanger (of Stewartville) was one of our leaders at the plate from last year,” Peterson said. “She struggled early on, but has come on hot the last few games. She was seven for ten at the plate with two home runs in the three games last week.”

Injuries are a part of every season and sports, and it’s been no different so far with the Yellowjackets.

“Haley Vanourney (Marion, IA) is one of our captains and one of the best players I’ve ever coached,” Coach Peterson said. “She sustained a concussion during the trip to Myrtle Beach and we lost her for a week. She’s back and swinging the bat well.

“Sammy Hogan (Palatine, IL) hits third in the order for us,” Peterson said, “and she’s been crushing the ball all year. Hogan’s hitting well over .600 for us.

One thing the coaching staff stresses at the plate is getting a quality at bat, no matter what the outcome is. She said the kids are buying into that system.

“It’s okay if you step in and that first pitch isn’t your favorite,” Peterson said. “It’s okay not to swing at it. We were swinging at pitches that might not be our favorites and we were hitting easy-out ground balls or popups. We’re focused on picking out a good pitch to hit and hitting it hard.”

The pitching mound will see some good depth this year. Up to four Yellowjackets may see some time out on the mound.

RCTC softball and pitcher Sammy Hogan are warming up

RCTC softball pitcher Sammy Hogan was named the National Junior College Athletic Association Division Three player of the week on March seventh and 14th. (photo from

“Our top one-two pitchers are Sammy Hogan (two time NJCAA Division Three Player of the Week) and Quincy Gross (Columbia Heights, MN),” Peterson said. “They’re doing well. In her last two starts, Sammy threw a no-hitter and a one-hitter. Quincy is battling a little, but when she’s on, she’s tough. She’s got good movement on her pitches.

She added, “Haley Vanourney will also pitch for us. She’s a nice counterbalance for us. She’s doesn’t throw quite as hard, but has nice movement on her pitches. McKayla Ahlrich will also throw a few pitches as well.”

The Jackets will host the CTC invitational at the RCTC dome this Friday and Saturday. The other teams will include Rainy River Community College, Vermillion Community College, Hibbing Community College, and Madison College.

Here’s the complete Yellowjackets roster:


No.   Name        Pos.  B/T  Cl.     Ht.    Hometown/High School

14     McKayla Ahlrich        P/INF                FR            Sleepy Eye, MN / Sleepy Eye


20     Kayla Branstad C/INF                FR            Northwood, IA / Northwood-Kensett


10     Ashleigh Dralle Utility                SO             Farmington, MN / Randolph


16     Brittany Ellis     Outfield             FR            Lansing, IA / Kee High


12     Paige Gadient    Utility                SO             Goodhue, MN / Goodhue


7       Quincy Gross    P/INF                FR            Columbia Heights, MN / Columbia Heights


15     Sammy Hogan  P/INF                SO             Palatine, IL / St. Viator


5       Makayla Kaeppel       OF            FR            Hawkeye, IA / North Fayette Valley


3       Shantel Loos     Infield               FR            Rochester, MN / Century


18     Emmy Miller     INF           SO             Cannon Falls, MN / Cannon Falls


13     Jordan O’Connor       OF            SO             Preston, MN / Fillmore-Central


4       Christina Stanger      OF            SO             Stewartville, MN / Stewartville


1       Haley Vanourney      C/P/INF           SO             Marion, IA / Marion




Wabasha Cty residents invited to meeting on emerald ash borer

Residents of Wabasha County are invited to a public meeting on Thursday, March 31st, 2016 regarding the discovery of emerald ash borer (EAB) in the county.

MDA-logoOn February 29, 2016, Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) staff identified EAB larvae in an ash tree in the southeastern corner of the county after being alerted to some suspicious trees by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources staff.

The trees displayed symptoms of EAB infestation, including bark splits and insect tunneling under the bark.

Those attending the upcoming meeting will have an opportunity to listen to presentations on EAB, hear about local options to deal with the insect, and learn how residents can limit the spread of the bug. Experts from the MDA, University of Minnesota, and other state and federal partner agencies will be available to answer questions.

Emerald Ash Borer Informational Meeting
Thursday, March 31, 2016
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Wabasha County Courthouse
625 Jefferson Avenue
Wabasha, MN 55981

Emerald Ash Borer concerns in Wabasha

Emerald ash borer concerns are prompting a public meeting in Wabasha County at the courthouse to discuss concerns about the insect, which has been found in the southern part of the county. (photo from

The public will also have an opportunity to provide input on the adoption of a formal EAB quarantine of Wabasha County. An emergency quarantine was placed on the area when EAB was discovered.

The MDA will take comments on the formal quarantine from March 15 – May 1, 2016 and proposes to adopt the quarantine on May 15, 2016.

The quarantine limits the movement of ash trees and limbs, and hardwood firewood out of the county. The proposed quarantine language can be found at Comments can be made at the public meetings or by contacting:

Kimberly Thielen Cremers
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
625 Robert Street North
St. Paul, MN 55155
Fax: 651-201-6108

Emerald Ash borer concerns in Wabasha County

Emerald ash borers emerge from an infected tree. EAB infestation concerns are the reason for a public meeting at the Wabasha County Courthouse on Thursday, March 31, beginning at 5:30. (Photo from

Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk. Minnesota is highly susceptible to the destruction caused by invasive insect. The state has approximately one billion ash trees, the most of any state in the nation. For more information on emerald ash borer, go to

Minnesota Greyhound Rescue helping racers find homes

Greyhound rescue at work

Greyhounds are a little unusual if you’ve never seen them up close, but they are very friendly and intelligent. Greyhounds are available for adoption at

Greyhound racing is big business in 15 states across the country, with millions of dollars won and lost. The greyhounds themselves live their lives either running on a racetrack or in a kennel for long distance transportation.

A concerned group of Minnesotans worries about what happens to greyhounds that can no longer race effectively and make money on the track. After 4 or 5 effective years at most, that’s it. Minnesota Greyhound Rescue simply wants to make sure these dogs get to live out the balance of their post-race lives in loving homes.

“I got my first greyhound nine years ago,” said Kelly Johnson of Rochester, who’s been involved with Minnesota Greyhound Rescue ever since. Lloyd and Jen Komatsu of Inver Grove Heights are also involved in the group. “Brad Kittleson and I typically set up most of the adoptions we do each year.”

Her first interaction with greyhounds came about by accident. It involved an unfortunate accident with a smaller family pet.

“I went to a pet store to get a fish,” Johnson said. “A fish accidentaly went down the sink and my children were not happy. The greyhounds were in the store and I’d never seen one before, never been to a track, and didn’t know what they were. There was my first greyhound, Catch, and I fell in love with him.”

She added, “My family thought I was nuts, but here were are years laterbecause that started the whole thing.”

Greyhound Rescue at work

Minnesota Greyhound Rescue wants you to know that greyhounds make great family pets. They want and need to interact with humans, whether adults or kids. (photo by Chad Smith)

Greyhounds may be a little unusual to look at if you’ve never seen one. On first impression, Kelly thought greyhounds actually looked a little “funny,” but it was Catch’s personality that won her over.

“I liked how he acted when I first saw him,” Johnson said. “Then I went to see him again and there were nine other greyhounds with him, and they all were sleeping. So I just sat down in the middle of them and thought ‘yep, this is what I’m supposed to do.’”

You may hear the word greyhound and think these dogs would need to run constantly after years of being on the racetrack. Johnson said they’re personalities are actually very different from that. Lazy, calm, and quiet are just a few of the words she would use to describe a typical greyhound.

Greyhound Rescue at work

Greyhounds come in a variety of sizes and colors, and Minnesota Greyhound Rescue has a good selection of males and females to choose from. Fill out an application today at

“When we do big events like the Pet Expo and the State Fair, Johnson said, “we’ve had anywhere up to 12 dogs there at one time, and they’re all sound asleep. People ask us all the time what we put in their food to make them sleep like that. There’s nothing in their food, it’s just who they are.

“They’re trained to sleep at the racetrack, and that’s who they become,” she added.

She said the rescue part of Minnesota Greyhound Rescue stems from the fact that the animals may not be as well cared for as she would hope. Johnson said she has no problem with greyhound racing, but simply wants to give the dogs a good place to live when their racing career is over.

She said the dogs are typically done racing at the end of their fifth year. However, the end can come much quicker than that. If a dog doesn’t finish first, second, or third in six straight races, they’re done racing for good. Johnson said why not give the animals that have worked so hard a place to rest after their labors are over?

For those who might be looking to adopt a greyhound, she wants them to stop by their website first for more information at Johnson said families should know that greyhounds make great family dogs because they’re good with children.

“I have 3 kids of my own that have grown up with greyhounds,” said Johnson. “They love kids and are great with them. The only thing they don’t like is when kids jump on them while sleeping. The animals aren’t used to being touchedwhen they sleep because they spend so much time in kennels when they’re younger so it scares them.”

Greyhound Rescue

Minnesota Greyhound Rescue has several new dogs in need of loving homes. They make great family pets, and if you happen to be in the market, fill out an application at (Photo by Chad Smith)

You also want to not intrude too much when they’re in a kennel. They’re used to being left alone in their kennel, because that’s where they spent most of their time. As with most animals, and even humans, it simply takes a little time to adjust to a new home.

“They typically get along good with other breeds of dogs,” Johnson said. “They would rather be with other greyhounds. I call them ‘breed snobs,’ but we place them in homes with other breeds of dogs all the time. Greyhounds will do much better in a home with any breed of dog than they will by themselves.”

Interested people should head to the website and fill out an application. The process usually goes fairly quickly, as the longer the greyhounds’ stay with Kelly, the harder the transition will be on them.

If you have some extra blankets you need to get rid of, she’d be happy to take them. Greyhounds are big fans of blankets, so they can go through them fairly quickly. Call the number on the website for more information.








Farmers looking to use drone technology

drone technology on the farm

Farmers across America are waiting for the chance to add drone technology to their farm operations as a means of being more efficient, especially when it comes to scouting crops for disease. (photo from

Drone technology has the potential to change the way farmers scout their fields for things like disease issues and pest pressure. The technology appears to have come a long way in a relatively short time, but there’s a more basic question to ask first:

How does it work?

“If you’re a farmer who wants to use a drone, it’s like having a 200 foot ladder to survey your field,” said Ian Smith, Business Development and Marketing Manager for DroneDeploy of San Francisco, California. “Usually a farmer would take some pictures of the field, but just pictures won’t get you a lot of useful information.”

DroneDeploy drone technology

DroneDeploy of San Francisco is a company looking to expand into the agricultural market as farmers look for more efficient methods of running their farms. (photo from

Smith added, “Instead, you need to create maps.”

The Drone Deploy software includes an app for smartphones.

“You can connect your smartphone directly to the drone with the app,” Smith said. “Our software lets you create aerial maps, 3D models, and images of your entire field. The images will be zoomable, high quality, and high resolution.”

The smartphone is hooked into the drone control unit through a USB port.

“When you open the app up, it’s connected to the drone,” Smith said. “You then draw on a base layer map and your drone’s GPS location shows up, similar to what you’d see on Google Maps to figure out where you are. Our app allows you to draw boundaries on a map that will show the drone where to go and take pictures.”

Basically, the farmer drags the corners of a box to outline the area to survey, and hits okay. A split second later, the software draws up a flight plan.

“The drone runs through a few flight checks, and then it automatically takes off straight up into the air,” Smith said. “It then starts to fly through the designated area and takes pictures. It surveys the field through waypoints on the map, getting good overlap between pictures. It then lands in the exact spot it took off from.”

He said the farmer never has to touch the drone’s joystick. The app pilots the machine automatically.

“When the drone lands,” Smith said, “you pull an SD card out of the drone. It’s similar to a card you’d find in a digital camera. You take it out of the drone and pop it in your computer, where you upload all those images to the Drone Deploy system. The system uses a photogrammetric stitching process to bring all of the pictures together into one high quality image.

“It’s basically like having your own Google map of your farm field,” Smith said.

How high the drone will fly depends upon how much area you need covered in the map.

“There’s a default altitude that we set,” Smith said, “usually 250 feet above ground. Changes depend upon how big your picture needs to be. If you have a 400-acre farm, you’d probably want to fly higher than that because you have more ground to cover.”

Flying higher to cover more ground can actually save on battery life for your drone.

“If you adjust parameters, such as height, with our app, it will update in real time how long that flight is going to take,” Smith said. “If your drone has a battery that lasts 20 minutes, and you adjust it to fly higher, it covers more ground in shorter time. The flight time then will drop in real time, so you make sure you have enough battery for each flight.”

The actual stitching process of your photos is entirely automatic.

“Even when we’re all asleep here in San Francisco (company headquarters) and someone is making a map in Australia,” Smith said, “it’s all automated. No one has to be awake at all.”

Once the images are uploaded, then it’s time for a farmer to wait.

“You go grab a cup of coffee, or whatever,” Smith said. “Depending upon the size and quality of the images you collect, in a couple hours, you’ll get an email saying your map is done. Once you click on the link, you’re right in your high quality, high resolution map that same day you took the pictures.”

He said same-day data is important for farmers, as things can literally change overnight due to events like severe weather.

Turnaround time on getting the stitching process done rarely takes more than a few hours.

“It all depends on things like how many pixels are in each image,” Smith said. “For example, a high end camera can take 60-75 seconds per image to process, so if you throw around 50 images in there, you’re probably looking at around an hour turnaround time.”

Even if the system is processing a large number of maps, you’ll still get your map back in a short time.

“With the horsepower we have in our big servers,” Smith said, “even if we’re processing 50 maps, you’ll still get your map back relatively quickly.”

High-end drones can run up to $3,000, but he said you don’t have to spend that much to get a good map, but there is a baseline recommendation.

“The lowest you may want to go if you’re getting into this today is probably $1,000,” Smith said. “However, 6 to 8 months from now, you’ll probably be able to spend $800, and a couple years from now, it’ll be lower than that.”















Former Wild coach Mike Yeo speaks out

One of the oldest cliché’s in sports is “coaches are hired to be fired.” Imagine taking a job knowing that someday you were more likely than not to be fired. It’s something you need to come to grips with once you say yes to a full time head job.

Wild Fire Coach Mike Yeo

Former Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo, seen here during a game in 2013, talked with reporters on Wednesday after losing his job on February 13. (Pioneer Press: Sherri LaRose-Chiglo)

It’s a lonely feeling, as evidenced by the press conference given on Wednesday by former Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo. The podium where Yeo stood in the Bielenberg Sports Center in Woodbury was small, which may have felt like the island Yeo suddenly found himself on the day before Valentine’s Day, when the Wild let him go.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous for an interview,” Yeo said, clearly uncomfortable in front of reporters. “There’s a lot of emotion involved. I want to start by thanking the people of Minnesota. For the last five years, they’ve taken my family and I in like we’re one of their own.”

Yeo said when he was at a kids’ hockey game, at the lake, or anywhere in town, they were never treated with anything but respect.

“I loved every day that I got to be coach of the Minnesota Wild,” he said. “I can honestly say I put my heart and soul into this job to try and bring a Stanley Cup to Minnesota. This is a place that deserves one.”

The shock of losing his job has worn off a little, and Yeo said that’s left him with an uncomfortable problem.

“Not knowing what to do with my time,” he said.   “I haven’t quite figured that out yet. You think that you’re prepared for it (being fired) and you know it’s a possibility. I told my wife and kids the day I got the job is that’s the reality.”

He added, “Some of the best coaches out there have been hired and fired maybe two or three times. Other coaches have told me it’s a tough thing but it will make you better. I feel I’m already a better coach going forward.”

Hard feelings are typical toward an organization when someone is let go, and Yeo said he’s no different. However, he did say the hard feelings are gone, and he doesn’t have a lot of regrets.



In spite of a lessening of hard feelings, he said the past couple weeks have been, in his words, brutal. But there have been some bright spots, including more family time.

“It was tough,” Yeo said. “But I did get to do some ice fishing, which I never get to do. Got to visit my daughter in Colorado, where she goes to school. I also got to see my son’s section semifinal game, which I don’t normally get to do.”

Yeo said it’s his turn to give back a little to his family.

“I’m going to enjoy this time with them,” he said. “They sacrifice a lot so I can get to do this. We’ve moved a lot.”

2016 did not start off well for the struggling Wild. The team hit a tailspin through the entire month of January, and the skid continued into early February. At that point, Yeo said the organization was waiting for some kind of change.

“It was tough to get any kind of spark,” Yeo said. “There’s two ways to do that: through a trade or a coaching change. You know it’s a possibility that change could go either way.”

He’ll take away a lot of memories after the low spot of getting fired.

“There’ve been a lot of high points,” he said, “and it’s really hard to pick out just one. I’ve enjoyed all of it, even the tough times when it’s hitting the fan. You know you’re under the gun, and I enjoyed those challenges and that responsibility.”

When the decision to let Yeo go came down after a particularly tough loss at home to Boston which stretched the team’s losing streak to eight straight games, Mike described it as an afternoon of tears and beers.



Future plans include spending time with family and more time on the snowmobile if we can get enough snow. He did say that more coaching in the NHL is definitely on his mind.

“I’m not going to sit around and wait for other coaches to get fired,” Yeo said, “I wouldn’t wish that on other people. However, the reality of our job is there will be other openings. When that happens, I want to coach; it’s in my blood and that’s who I am. I really believe that my best days as a coach are ahead of me.”


Kuschels Retire from National Committee at YF&R Conference

YF&R national meeting members

A strong group of Minnesotans attended the recent Young Farmer and Rancher Conference. Minnesota’s Miles and Sarah Kuschel recently completed a two year term on the national committee. (Photo from

Young farmer leaders from Minnesota attended the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Conference held in Kansas City, Missouri, February 12-15. Miles and Sarah Kuschel of Cass County were among the nearly 1,100 participants who attended the conference.

This also marked the completion of the Kuschels term on the AFBF YF&R Committee. The couple held numerous responsibilities throughout the year, including assisting with planning and implementation of this year’s conference. Miles also served as vice chair of the committee this past year. The Kuschels served on the committee for two years and were recognized for this on February 14.

“We had a great time representing Minnesota on the committee. Thank you to everyone we were able to share this experience with, and those who helped us along the way,” said the Kuschels.

The AFBF YF&R Committee donated $500 to Bill Brodie of the All American Beef Battalion to aid in their efforts of providing steak dinners to service men and women and their families across the country. Brodie is a Vietnam Veteran who is passionate about providing something special for those who defend our country.

The Kuschels also visited the Ronald McDonald House with Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell. The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has partnered with Cantrell on her platform, “Healthy Children, Strong America.” The partnership is working with the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture book of the year, First Peas to the Table.

Collegiate Discussion Meet

Ethan Dado, University of Minnesota student from Amery, Wisconsin and winner of the MFBF Collegiate Discussion Meet, finished in the Sweet Sixteen of the National YF&R Collegiate Discussion Meet on February 14 competing against 52 other YF&Rs. Katie Schmitt, University of Minnesota student from Rice in Benton County, also represented Minnesota in the competition.

Attendee Highlights

Attendees heard from keynote speakers Jason Brown, former NFL football player; Roger Rickard, advocacy professional; Kelly Barnes, motivational speaker; and Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell. Attendees also had the opportunity to tour the Kansas City, Missouri area.

Conference attendees included: Miles and Sarah Kuschel, Cass County; Amanda Durow, Dakota County; Pete and Jenni Henslin, Dodge County; and Collegiate Discussion Meet participants Ethan Dado and Katie Schmitt.

Minnesota_Farm_Bureau_Logo_345x143Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation represents Farmers • Families • Food is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureaus across Minnesota. Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. Programs for young farmers and ranchers help develop leadership skills and improve farm management. Promotion and Education Committee members work with programs such as Ag in the Classroom and safety education for children. Join Farm Bureau today and support our efforts to serve as an advocate for rural Minnesota,


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