The Dream Team: Taking the SoilWarrior to the Next Level
With strong roots in the agriculture industry, the Environmental Tillage Systems marketing team helps farmers realize the opportunities and benefits of SoilWarrior strip-tillage systems.
According to the 2019 Census of Agriculture, a staggering thirty-six percent of farmers are women. Out of all the farms in the United States, fifty-six percent of them have at least one female decision-maker on the operation. As for the three positions in the marketing department at Environmental Tillage Systems (ETS), 100 percent of them are proudly filled by women in agriculture. From involvement within 4-H and FFA, to summer field scouting jobs, to dairy judging as kids, to participants of the National Agri-Marketers Association as adults, these women’s extensive skillsets make them valuable assets for ETS. Caitlin, Kristin, and Catie make a strong marketing team with a diversified agriculture background for the SoilWarrior company.
For Caitlin Keck, ETS Marketing Director, agriculture has always played an integral role in her life. "I grew up on a dairy farm in southern Minnesota. My family lived and breathed agriculture every single day of our lives, and we still do," she said. "My older brother and parents still own and operate the dairy farm. As kids, my siblings and I showed and judged dairy cattle and were involved in 4-H and FFA."
Caitlin working the Moo Booth at the Minnesota State Fair
Career development opportunities through FFA led Keck to her future career. "I joined FFA my sophomore year of high school and quickly fell in love with the abundant opportunities in the industry." Her involvement in FFA and other opportunities through the ag industry has taken her to 9 different countries: Scotland, England, France, Germany, Luxembourg, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brazil.
Caitlin on an FFA State Officer Trip to Shanghai
Keck's passion for the agriculture industry was solidified through her education at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities where she received a BS in Agricultural Education - Leadership & Communications. Keck's career has taken her across the Midwest; meeting, networking and exploring even more of what makes the industry great. "The people are my favorite thing about the agriculture industry," Keck said. "Farmers and the people that support them are some of the hardest working and humble people." After four years in the industry, she went on to graduate school while working full-time and received her MBA from Indiana University - Kelley School of Business, and an MS in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University.
In 2016, Keck joined the marketing team at Environmental Tillage Systems. "Our customers are the biggest reason I love my job at ETS. Their experiences and stories inspire other farmers to try strip tillage and incorporate practices that support soil health and nutrient stewardship on their farms. I love helping our customers share their stories and seeing the real impact it has on other farms," Keck said.
Caitlin and her husband, Jason, reside in southern Minnesota with their two boys. They raise corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle. The Kecks hire a custom SoilWarrior operator to do strip tillage and nutrient application on their farm. Caitlin enjoys growing and direct marketing produce to local consumers in her free time.
Kristin Krell, Marketing Manager, is no stranger to the agriculture industry and wouldn’t have it any other way. “Why not be a part of an industry that touches everyone every day?”
Growing up near Medford, Minnesota, just a few minutes outside of the ETS headquarters in Faribault, some of Krell’s favorite memories involve working on her family’s row crop operation. “Whether it was riding in tractors, going to the sale barn, crop checking in the summer that usually ended with an ice-cream cone, or just playing outside in the yard with the dog, being a part of agriculture taught me responsibility and life skills,” said Krell.
Kristin & Angus - Minnesota State Fair 2008
With an Agricultural Education degree from South Dakota State University, Krell had spent the first years of her career with Extension before accepting a marketing position at ETS in 2016.
“I love telling the story of our equipment,” she said. “From where it started, to where we are now, and how and why our customers use their equipment.” Krell is a great asset to have on the team coming from a SoilWarrior family. Not only is her husband, Justin, a SoilWarrior operator but so is her father and brother. She is familiar with our equipment and the benefits of strip-tillage on farming operations.
When you ask her what her favorite thing about the agriculture industry is, she is quick to answer. “The diversity. When someone says, ‘I work in ag,’ I am always curious what they do. Even when a farmer says they just farm a few acres there is always more to the story, and I love hearing it.”
Kristin as a MN Corn Growers Association Agvocate
Kristin and her husband farm in Southern Minnesota while raising their three girls. Their newest addition to their family is a few chickens. “Agriculture taught me compassion towards all living things and thinking about the generations before us and those to come,” Krell said. Chicks are a great place to start for her children to learn the same values.
The newest member of the team, Catie Schmidt, the Marketing & Sales Coordinator, is a transplant to the state of Minnesota. Growing up in Central Wisconsin, Schmidt attended the University of Minnesota -Twin Cities to pursue a degree in Agricultural Communication & Marketing.
“I grew up heavily involved in agriculture without even realizing it; it was just life,” Schmidt said. “Both of my parents work in the potato industry. Agriculture was the heart of the community I was raised in. It is surrounded by potato, carrot, and cucumber operations. My first job was scouting potato fields and that’s a huge part of why I decided I wanted to continue my education into the agriculture industry.”
Catie at National 4-H Congress Fall 2016
Helping family and friends on their farms led a passionate seventh grade Catie to convince her parents to join 4-H and start her first lamb project. “I was a little late to the game when it came to starting in 4-H because most of my friends started as Cloverbuds,” said Schmidt. “After a few years into it, I realized 4-H was way more than just the projects; it was also the people, the leadership opportunities, and the vast amount of career opportunities within the agriculture industry.”
Catie & Alf - Waushara County Fair 2016
Schmidt was a Marketing Intern for ETS in 2020-2021. After college graduation in the spring of 2021, she started full-time with ETS. “It’s fun to work here. Not only do I get to work with co-workers who care about agriculture and the future of its success, but I get to talk to farmers. I love hearing about each operation a SoilWarrior runs on or the possibility of how a SoilWarrior could benefit their farm,” said Schmidt.
“A majority of the world revolves around agriculture production. It’s an incredibly important component of our economy and the way our world is run. Farmers and industry professionals are powerful in my eyes,” said Schmidt. “They work hard and are individuals I look up to.”
Brent Brueland, ETS Vice President of Sales and Marketing, is proud to have a team rooted in the agriculture industry. “Having a team that is 1st degree connected to agriculture provides ETS with a perspective that many companies do not have the luxury of having. Whether it is understanding the risks, struggles, and rewards a farmer lives every day or the deep connection to the land and future generations that is part of the farm lifestyle," said Brueland. "'Knowing ag' and 'living ag' are similar but also very different – when one can answer a question with innate knowledge versus having to learn it or research it – it doesn’t get more real than that.”
Each of these ladies is a current member of the Steele County Farm Bureau and participates in discussion meets, volunteers with Ag in the Classroom, as well as participates in agricultural organizations throughout the state.
The marketing team loves to get out of the office and visit with other ag enthusiasts. Check out our shows and events page to see where you could meet them this summer.
The ETS Marketing Team - Caitlin Keck, Catie Schmidt & Kristin Krell
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