Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Miller is new Todd County Extension educator

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 10/03/2013 4:33 PM

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LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. — Brenda Miller said she's "getting her feet wet" in her new position as Todd County Extension educator.

Looking at the events she's handled during her first six months on the job it appears she's plunged head first into her work.

She headed the Todd County summer dairy tour, assisted with Stearns County's dairy field day at the Kerfeld farm, worked at the Todd County Fair's dairy show, helped 4-H youth at the Minnesota State Fair and fielded questions on dairy, beef and goat production.

Miller is also considering a fall workshop to help producers assess the rental charges for their pastures, land and ag services.

Miller grew up on a Carver County dairy farm. Her parents, Duane and Mary Nelson, are both University of Minnesota animal science grads who started a dairy farm near Winthrop. The first cow in their herd was a registered Aryshire they received as a wedding present from Joe Tix of Cannon Falls. It was a heartfelt present from the dairy farmer who appreciated Mary's efforts showing his cattle at fairs and events.

The couple added Holsteins and built cow numbers to three Ayrshires and 45 Holsteins. All the cows were registered animals.

The Nelsons were an active 4-H family. Dairy, rabbits and sheep were their livestock projects. Miller also recalls enrolling in photography and clothing projects. She was also involved in the McLeod West FFA.

Her parents sold the milking herd five years ago and now have 20 beef cow/calf pairs and raise dairy feeders.

When Miller was younger, she wanted to be a veterinarian but realized she'd never be able to do surgery. Sewing an incision would be no problem, she said. But cutting an animal would be difficult.

"I quickly crossed that one off my list," she said.

She attended the University of Minnesota and majored in animal science with a dairy production emphasis. Miller interned with Genex and was offered a full-time position when she graduated. She worked in Stearns, Todd, Morrison, Douglas, Pope and Otter Tail counties. She also worked part-time at Meyers Dairy for Nick and Tara Meyer. She met her husband, Alex, through one of her co-workers.

Miller was transferred to Genex's southeast Minnesota territory before leaving the company. She returned to Meyers Dairy before she was hired for the Extension position.

Alex is a diesel mechanic for an Alexandria company. They plan to move near Osakis with their son, Caleb. Their new home is a half-way point between their jobs.

The Carver County native is getting accustomed to her new job and the county she serves. Farming differs between the two counties, she said. Todd County soils are lighter and irrigation is often used. Carver County soils are heavier and hold more moisture, she said.

"It's been interesting to learn more about the farming methods," she said. "And this area has such a diversified ag industry including Central Bi-Products."

Todd county is sixth in dairy production and eighth in beef production in the state, she said.

"It's an important area for animal agriculture in the state," she said. "The farming ranges from Amish livestock operations to robotic milkers on some farms."