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Happy Ag Day | Farmers Fuel the Future
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Happy Ag Day | Farmers Fuel the Future

It’s Ag Day in America, and we would like to pay special tribute to all farmers and ranchers across America – especially those operating in communities we serve. Border Bank started its roots in northern Minnesota’s ag country in 1935, in town of Greenbush, Minnesota. Since then, the bank has grown to 11 branches throughout Minnesota and North Dakota. In January 2023, Border Bank invested deeper into the agriculture industry by acquiring Northern Ag, an insurance agency providing crop insurance, commodity marketing advisory, and brokerage services. Between both, we employ 165 talented employees, some of whom are also farmers and ranchers – besides bankers and insurance agents! This Q&A features and celebrates of few of our fellow employees involved in the ag industry.


Joe Ulwelling
Chief Credit Officer | Roseau, MN
Farm Facts: Crops | Shares in farm operation with father and brother.

Q. From someone who understands the financial industry, and farms a large quantity of acres as well, what is a valuable recommendation for successful farming?  

A. There are many aspects to farming and one must be a jack of all trades. One trade I would recommend attention be given by every farmer is the finance and bookkeeping of the farm. Knowing production costs, break even yield projections, and cash flow is vitally important to each producer as they make decisions throughout the year. A well-informed farmer is a successful farmer. For many, the bookkeeping and paperwork that comes along with farm often gets neglected or delegated to someone with no skin in the game.

Q.  What advice would you give someone new to the agriculture industry?
A. Ask questions to as many seasoned farmers as possible. A lot has changed in the farming industry, but getting savvy advice from someone who has made mistakes in the past is very valuable. Most farmers would admit to making a mistake, and that is ok. Pushing the boundaries is precisely how we grow our industry.

Sharla Kilen
Deposit Operations Manager | Badger, MN
Farm Facts: Grains and Cattle

Q. Both you and your husband grew up farming and have continued to do so your whole lives. Do you have any advice for people who would like to keep the family farm…in the family? What does it mean to you to pass along this livelihood to your children?

A. My husband and I are very proud to be a multi-generational farm family and continue with the farming tradition! We grow a variety of small grains and raise beef cattle. We have been married for 33 years and have two adult children. I have worked at Border Bank for 30 years, with a front row seat to the bank’s growth and success over the years.  
Although many things have changed with farming over the years, there are a few constants – the hard work and dedication needed, the intense worry about things out of our control, and the true love of the land and the farming lifestyle. We honestly don’t know anything different!
Keeping the farm “in the family” has always been important, but never a certainty. Any family farm is just one generation or hardship away from becoming extinct. We were thrilled when our son purchased the farm where I was born and raised – about 15 miles away from us. He is the fifth generation since 1906 on the ‘Pesek’ Century farm and we are proud of him for making the decision to be a part of this legacy. My Dad was in the nursing home with dementia when this decision was made, but he would get a twinkle of pride in his eyes hearing that his grandson was going to be taking over the farm. Our daughter is also nearby working as a Veterinary Technician in Roseau. It gives us immense pride as parents to see them both thriving and doing what they love.
Both sides of our extended family have deep roots in agriculture, and we are proud to be a part of this legacy and way of life, one we do not take for granted. 

Ulrik Aaskov
Ag Banker | Roseau, MN
Farm Facts: Soybeans, Oats, Wheat

Q. Along with working as an Ag Banker with Border Bank, you’ve also been involved with farming over the past ten years. How does farming benefit you as an Ag Banker, and vice versa? Do you have a favorite crop to farm and why?

A. My involvement in the ag industry over the past decade has been an incredibly valuable experience that compliments my role as an Ag Banker. Being actively involved allows me to stay connected with the industry, understanding firsthand challenges, trends, and opportunities that farmers face on a day-to-day basis. The combination of knowledge in the financial aspects, market dynamics, and risk managements, combined with practical insights helps me empathize with our borrowers and provide more tailored financial solutions.
I do not have a favorite crop, but witnessing the golden wheat fields in Roseau County sway in the wind before harvest gives me a sense of fulfillment and connection to the area.

Brent Olson
Business Banker | Baudette, MN
Farm Facts: Small grains | Assists family with farming operation.

Q. Since you married into a family farming operation and didn’t grow up farming, what do you enjoy most?

A: There are several aspects I enjoy about farming but to name a couple; it’s gratifying being able to see progress each day; whether it’s digging a field, planting, harvesting, etc. Being able to drive by a field/s and see progress after a long day of work is rewarding. Also, farmers are responsible for feeding the world and knowing that each farm/farmers efforts are helping support and feed animals and people alike is also very rewarding. Lastly, I enjoy working alongside family members and friends the most, and accomplishing all those tasks together means a lot.
Q. Is there anything that has surprised you?  

A:  Yes – I’ve come to learn that farmers and their families are some of the most resilient, committed and hardest working people on the planet. It takes an incredible amount of faith and determination to be a farmer because there are so many things that are outside of your control – commodity prices, input costs, insects, invasive weeds, and of course weather to name a few. Farmers have to overcome those uncertain, uncontrollable elements, and have faith that what you put in the ground is going to come up and be harvested months down the road – and in between planting and harvest the resiliency and commitment that is displayed daily… well, it’s something I’ve come to very much respect and admire about farmers and their families.

Lynn Norberg
Deposit Operations Specialist | Badger, MN
Farm Facts: Small Grains | Hobby Farm

Q. Farming is a second job for both you and your husband, so what makes farming enjoyable for you? 

A. My husband and I own 490 acres and a family farm that has been passed down through the years. We consider it a hobby farm with our homestead, woods to hunt, and fields to farm. We raise a dozen cows, pigs, and chickens. The farming we do is to feed the animals, consisting of haying and a few acres of various grains. We enjoy living out in the country with the peaceful serenity, enjoying nature, and my husband says being on the tractor in the fields is his “happy place”.

Jody Miller
President, Market Analyst, Crop Insurance Agent | Northern Ag
Farm Facts: Northern Ag Insurance | Corn, Wheat, Soybeans, Perennial Ryegrass, Canola

Q. You and your family own and operate a prosperous farming operation, along with a successful agricultural insurance business. How did farming influence you to start Northern Ag?

A. I grew up on a small grain and dry edible bean farm in NE North Dakota. I loved everything that had to do with the farm - from hard work and long hours to planning, penciling, and planning again. I also knew I had two younger brothers who loved the farm just as much as I did. It’s not always easy for a farm to grow fast enough to support several incoming children, so I decided that if I wasn’t going to farm, I wanted to do something that helped farmers. Enter in college at NDSU and an Agricultural Economics degree. While I loved the “dirt”, I also loved the planning aspect of farming. This is when the fascination of commodity marketing took hold. It wasn’t long before I began working at a commodity marketing firm in Fargo when the MPCI industry changed a bit to include Revenue policies on many of the commodities raised in northern ND and northern MN. The two areas of interest seemed to meld together nicely. This is how the foundation of Northern Ag was formed. In the fall of 2005, I moved to Thief River Falls and began Northern Ag.
Q. How do these two passions support one another? 

A. I can’t imagine how these two passions wouldn’t support one another. All the knowledge and experience I’ve gained on the production agriculture side allows me to fully understand all of the decisions, strategies, rewards and difficulties that go into a farming career. When I’m working with producers day in and day out, they want someone who understands where they are coming from and how they can perhaps utilize and understand different situations to help them reduce various risks in their risk management portfolio. I’m constantly learning new angles and ways to look at various situations to help producers minimize those risks. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect career. It never feels like work when you love what you’re doing!
Q. Can you share a favorite family farming story?

A. I don’t have one favorite family farming story, but I can tell you that I can’t imagine life on the farm (and life in general) without my family. Our two oldest sons have really stepped up in big ways to help us out. I’m so proud of all they have learned and the strong work ethic they have developed. I’m sure our youngest son and daughter will follow in their footsteps. Life on a farm, with family, is a dream life for us. And I’m not just speaking of our immediate family. Aaron and I both come from farming families, so “well trained” family members are never far away when an additional hand is needed!

Lindsay Oslund
Crop Insurance Agent | Northern Ag
Farm Facts: Grygla Seed & Services | Small Grains, Soybeans, Wheat, and Ryegrass

Q. Between farming, owning a successful seed business, working as a crop insurance agent with Northern Ag, and raising a family – how do you balance it all? And how do each of these ventures work well together?

A. There are times that I think I'm crazy but most of the time it all works great together. The busy times for each job come at different times of the year. Right now, with the crop insurance side, we are wrapping up the Sales Closing Deadline and the upcoming Production Reporting Deadline. With the seed business, I get busy as soon as the farmers are wanting to get in the field. My husband, Andy, is the one that does all the heavy lifting at the farm. I am there as much as I can, doing tillage, or being in the field during harvest, or other times to help with the day-to-day stuff. My family is used to being busy and it works for us. The kids are always so great to pitch in and help all the time as well. We are fortunate, and we do find time to have fun! We love spending time at the lake, riding our side-by-side around the countryside, and running to the kids’ games. Working with our family really makes it all worthwhile, teaches our kids responsibilities, and that hard work does pay off. 


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