Generations of Family, Generations of Pigs

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These pictures contain five generations of Edwards: Edward Rehder, Ralph Edward, Ross Edward, Jay Edward and Nathan Edward. If Nate doesn’t have a little boy named Edward someday, I can only begin to imagine how mad my great grandma Lilah would be.

The name is pretty special in my family. I’m sure your family has something that’s special too. Maybe it’s a holiday tradition, a tall tale story, or a favorite recipe. These things bring a family together. Pigs are another thing the Rehders consider special in their heart.

My great grandpa Ralph moved a mile away from the family farm around 1942 to begin his own. At that time, he was newly married to my great-grandma Lilah. Together they raised wheat, soybeans, corn, sugar beets, a bit of livestock, and three boys. One of these boys was my grandpa Ross.

Ross Edward Rehder and his cattle project.

Grandpa Ross grew up with a passion for agriculture. He was involved in 4-H and FFA showing cattle and his crops. He eventually married Cheryl. They raised three boys on the family farm. Ross grew crops but his heart was in livestock. Specifically, he raised Chester White and Berkshire hogs. My dad tells me stories of hauling buckets of feed and water to the barns twice a day (uffda). But his best stories are the ones of him showing pigs at our local county fair.

Jay Rehder showing a Chester White hog at the Clay County Fair.



My mom and dad understood the values that raising livestock instilled in a kid. They wanted that for my siblings and I. When I was five years old, my parents got me a couple pigs to show in 4-H. From there we have grown into our own little hobby farm.  Over the years we have also had sheep and chickens.

Dad and Me.

This summer in particular my grandpa Ross was super excited about some of the pigs we had. As I stated before, he raised Chester White hogs on the farm. This spring our family bought a registered Chester White gilt to show. My sister took it to the Minnesota State Fair and received purple ribbon honors. Oh boy, were my dad and grandpa thrilled.

Claire and Charlotte.
3rd generation of pig farmers!

The name Edward and Chester White pigs define my family. What defines yours?

In Sisterhood,


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Hannah Rehder is a junior from Barnesville, Minnesota. She studies Ag Economics and Animal Science. Hannah serves as an Ag Education Co Chair.


Top 5 Reasons to Rush Sigma Alpha

Meet great friends. If you have any interest in agriculture, you are bound to find some great friends in Sigma Alpha. Our current 25 members have varying interest from equine, poultry, machinery, and crops. We are truly a family that cares about one another. Not only do we socialize within our group, but we also reach out to other sororities and fraternities like Farm House and Alpha Gama Rho.


Improve your grades. Sigma Alpha has strict grade standards. Members are to hold a 2.5 GPA or above. This is an incentive to keep your grades up. Our scholarship and leadership chair provides weekly study hours and incentives for good grades. Most girls have similar majors and classes, so we help each other out a lot!

Scholarship is one of our four pillars.

Professional development. Our vice president’s duty is to put on professional development events. For example, last semester we had three different professionals come in and give us career advice. Speakers from Ag Country Farm Credit Services helped us with designing our resumes. Carra Hart from the Red River Farm Network gave us tips on how to network at conferences. Finally, Katie Pinkie of Ag Week taught us the basics of blogging.

Leadership Conference 2017


Networking. Sigma Alpha was established in 1978 as a national sorority. There are now alumni all over the nation in professional jobs. Some of these people are hiring! Having an organization like Sigma Alpha on your resume will help you in obtaining a job.


Advocate for an industry you love. The girls of Sigma Alpha are all very passionate about agriculture. This past year we have help ag education events at the YMCA and Oak Grove. We recently started this blog page to promote agriculture further.

Sigma Alpha at Oak Grove Elementary

For more information on how to rush Sigma Alpha please contact Sam Ruger at or visit our Facebook page


New Beginnings

As one chapter in our lives close, another begins. I find myself currently at a crossroads on my journey. With moving back to Fargo and schools starting up again, I have come to realize I will never live at home with my family ever again. The familiarness and comfort of knowing what I will be doing for the future has vanished and left me feeling excited and anxious. Being an Animal Science major, one of the requirements to graduate is to complete an internship. This coming year tasks me with finding a suitable internship for next summer that will prepare me for my future. This whole “adulting” thing is suddenly becoming so real. What if I don’t find one? What is I can’t graduate on time? What if I don’t like the internship I find? These are all questions that I, as a sophomore, have to deal with this coming year.


Living in a house instead of the dorms will also be a huge change. Driving to class and not having a full meal plan at my convenience are some the biggest changes I will have to adjust to. Balancing a job, school work, friends, clubs, and keeping up with a house full of girls will keep me more than preoccupied this school year. Although I am nervous, I am very excited to see where this year takes me. My first year at NDSU was one i won’t forget and I’m hoping the coming year will be just as memorable!


In Sisterhood,


Emily Middendorf is from Sauk Centre, MN. She is a sophomore majoring in Animal Science. 

‘When was the last time you did something for the first time?’


It makes you think doesn’t it?  Think about what you’ve done that’s totally out of the norm and new for the first time. For me, I reflect upon my days at University of Wisconsin-Madison when I saw this and thought at Poultry Camp 2K17- or at least that’s what we all called it. It’s actually the Center of Excellence Scholarship/Internship Program of the Midwest Poultry Consortium. Where, for 6 weeks, you are immersed in poultry science all day, every day learning about research, education and employment opportunities. And after my short 6 weeks in Madison, I had 9 credits with nationally recognized faculty and an unforgettable poultry science experience. I’ve always said I wanted to work with animals when I grow up but now I am learning how to encompass poultry into that childhood dream.


UW Madison Campus with Flat Perry.

I’ve never had so much hands-on experience with any other class as I did with this program and to go through the different poultry industries was very eye-opening. From learning about avian diseases and health management to discussing the hot buttons topics of organic and antibiotic free products. It was such pleasure working with all my classmates, and possibly some future co-workers, during that time. I was able to learn so much and I did try to take in as much as I could from the faculty and staff, plus all my classmates with their various poultry experiences.


Classmates of COE 2017.

 My previous poultry encounters consisted of petting my friend’s chickens at county fair and that’s about it. Now, I recently just completed my internship with Jennie-O Turkey Store and am able to apply everything I’ve learned from UW-Madison to my intern project. And now, I can examine birds inside and out and be able to actually understand what’s going on from their changes in the environment, what a diet consists of and any other factors when supervisors, farm managers, etc. discuss their birds on the farm.


Touring an organic, free range egg layer farm in WI.

So, my answer to the question first asked above, Poultry Camp 2K17 was definitely the last time I’ve done something for the first time and am very proud of my accomplishments this summer in trying a new animal agriculture industry where I can see a potential future. The only way I would have gotten this far, is by all the encouragement and support from all those in my life that pushed me towards this new journey.  So my advice to end that question of ‘When was the last time you’ve done something for the first time’ is to take that chance, jump right in, just say yes and don’t be afraid to seek out something new for the first time!

In Sisterhood,



Life long friends can easily be made when studying poultry science for 6 weeks!

Abby is our current 2017 President and senior studying Animal Science and minoring in Extension Education from Pelican Rapids, MN. She is also keeping active in Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and NDSU Agriculture Collective.

A Summer Internship in the “Alcohol” Industry

This summer I had the pleasure of working as a Commodities Intern at Bushmills Ethanol in Atwater, Minnesota.  I worked under the Commodities Manager who happens to be an NDSU Alum and an Alum from Sigma Alpha’s Brother Fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho!

I would have to say that the most rewarding part of my internship experience was getting to experience a new side of the Agriculture industry that I have never been a part of before with growing up on a small crop farm and having two prior internships in Agronomy and Research.  I got to partake in Commodity Marketing and Merchandising and learn so much about the Ethanol Industry through this internship.


Amber with part of the Ethanol Plant in the Background)

Bushmills is a dry mill plant that began operating in 2005.  Bushmills is a Cooperative made up of around 400 farmers and members with an interest in making an economic impact in the regional community.  My family sells a majority of our Corn to Bushmills because we believe in the Ethanol Industry and cleaner emissions since there is so many cars on the roads today.  The plant strives to be an efficient producer of ethanol and its co-products with a low carbon footprint, and to promote the “clean octane” value of ethanol which will ensure long-term profitability for the industry and the investors in Bushmills Ethanol.  As of now Bushmills can produce up to 65 million gallons of ethanol within a year.  Soon though, they will be expanding and will be able to produce up to 100 million gallons using the same amount of water they are using now!  The water is constantly recycled as well!

The company purchases, sells, and grinds down corn.  As well as produces and sells Ethanol, Dry Distiller Grains (DDGs), Modified Distiller Grains (“Wet Cake”), Corn Oil, and Corn syrup.  Everything listed is a “left over” of producing Ethanol.  Ethanol, also called alcohol, ethyl alcohol, and drinking alcohol, is the principal type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.  It is a volatileflammable, colorless liquid with a slight characteristic odor.  Ethanol is mostly produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts, or by petrochemical processes.  It is widely used as a solvent, as fuel, and as a feedstock for synthesis of other chemicals; as well as in many other minor uses. (Wikipedia)

Most of the time the by-products of producing Ethanol are fed to livestock but there are now scientists that have developed DDG Cookies (which are very delicious by the way).  “DDG are a by-product of the ethanol-making process and are most commonly used as a high-protein livestock feed. When a 56-pound bushel of corn is made into ethanol, you get 2.8 gallons of fuel and about 18 pounds of DDG” (MN Corn). “There are currently no food products on the market that contain DDG, but continued research is progressing toward bringing a product to grocery store shelves one day.  By using DDG to replace a small portion (2-10 percent) of the flour in food products, that product’s protein and dietary fiber percentages increase significantly” (MN Corn).  They are also working on producing flatbreads with up to 20 percent DDG in them along with other food products!

Although my internship was at an Ethanol plant, I highly recommend internships to others no matter what type it is or where it is.  Internships are very rewarding for high school and college students to learn what they want to do in the future.

In Sisterhood,

Amber Willis

Amber Willis is from Wilmar Minnesota. She studied two years at Ridgewater College before transferring to NDSU to study agricultural economics. Amber serves as our chapter’s alumni liaison. 


Sources: flour

I am a Farmer’s Daughter

I consider myself blessed to have grown up in a farming family. Erickson Farms is a fifth (hopefully I can make it a sixth) generation farm located in the Red River Valley, roughly ten miles north of small town Ada, Minnesota (a population of barely 1,700). This is the place where I found my first, my biggest, my proudest passion; agriculture.


Now, technically, I never actually “lived” on the farm, but I pretty much spent every waking moment I could there. Some of my earliest and best memories involve the farm or field some way or another. My all-time favorite memory is me sitting on my dad’s lunch pail in the tractor (that was the “buddy seat” at my age), watching him make his passes in the field while he was planting the crops (corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and wheat to be specific). He may not have noticed then, but he planted a seed in my heart too; a seed for the love of agriculture.


While other young girls played with dolls and played dress up (not saying I never did that), I was watching and helping my dad clean and fix equipment, mowing the massive lawn (sometimes taking 5 hours and getting that wonderful farmer’s tan), running through fields of corn and wheat, or taking the 4-wheeler on mini treks. Before I knew how to drive a car, I was driving around tractors and combines. My summers and falls consisted of driving the grain cart and chisel plowing the fields after harvest. I remember one year, I was driving grain cart in a field that had two combines with two different sized headers. That means I was trying to switch the auto-steer between combines (first world problems, I know). So I was already nervous doing that. To top it off, the combine I was unloading at the time was nearing the edge of the field, so I basically had to turn the huge quad track tractor and grain cart sharply to avoid running into the neighboring field. Okay, maybe I didn’t have to turn as soon and as sharp as I thought. Before I knew it, I turned too close to the combine and hit the header. Thankfully it was only minor damage to the plastic (sorry Dad if you’re reading this and it brings back horrible memories).  Hey, I never said I was perfect.


The lessons I learned on the farm and my dad far outweighs the ones that came from classrooms and teachers (don’t tell my teachers that). I learned to be optimistic. I learned to be compassionate. I learned to never give up. But most importantly, I learned the real importance of agriculture. The agricultural industry is one that many of people who aren’t engaged in it look down upon. Without agriculture, life that we know would definitely not be the same.

My dad has always been one of my biggest role models in my life, always taking time to offer advice and pushing me to do my best.  I can definitely accredit a big part of my independent spirit to him, something I’m often thankful for. Just like many farmers, and farmer’s daughters, I am honored of where I grew up and how I was raised.  The farm and how my parents decided to live, has played a large part in how I view life and who I am today.

I love that no matter where life takes me or who I become, I’ll always be a proud farmer’s daughter.

In sisterhood,


Alyson Erickson
Agricultural Economics Major | Crop and Weed Science Minor
Chaplain | Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Soroit

Getting Dirty in Agriculture

I think one of the coolest things about being a part of agriculture are the procedures and techniques I get to take part in or also known as getting dirty in agriculture. A lot of people do not get to or want to experience these types of entities of agriculture, they only get the end product. A lot of people do not realize how much goes on behind the scenes whether you are a crop farmer, dairy farmer, swine farmer, etc.

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This summer I took on an internship with Birds Eye Foods as a Field Assistant, where I work under an amazing Agriculturist who covers the Dakota County area in Minnesota. Now in the beginning I was a little uncertain with taking on this internship, because being an Animal & Equine Science major with no background knowledge of plants I thought I wouldn’t be able to succeed. But, as the summer moved forward and the time that flew by I have learned so much on how many entities of agriculture the simplest little “dirty” things can have a huge effect on people.

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To start out, Birds Eye Foods is a large frozen food company located out of Waseca, Minnesota with other facilities in different areas. My job as a Field Assistant is to take on tasks that are given to me and figure out how to efficiently finish these tasks in a timely manner. Some of these tasks were simple such as delivering seed to growers, looking at corn tassels, discuss the important things in a plants life such as rain, sun, temperature, etc. Others not so much. As soon as our pea and corn plants started to bloom, grow, and fill out, we begin to get dirty in agriculture by sampling fields. Sampling pea or corn fields are where you get up before sun, put on your “banana suit,” find four good spots in the field that will give you a good representative sample, and grab a burlap bag full of peas or corn and bring them back to a plant that has hundreds of other employees waiting for results on whether your pea or corn plants are ready to harvest so they can work to. Without getting dirty and sampling peas and corn, no one would know what is ready and what isn’t. For me to understand how a simple, dirty task can control how many people’s jobs IS CRAZY! This only one of the many small, behind the scenes tasks that a lot of people do not know about.

This internship has shown me what it is like to get down and dirty with the crops we love and how much goes on behind the scenes in agriculture. Agriculture will forever be that dirty fun job that the only way you are going to know how it works-is by being part of it.

In Sisterhood,


Samantha Ruger Animal & Equine Science Major | Agribusiness Minor
Certification in Animal Health Management
Recruitment Chair | Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority
Compliance Officer | NDSU Agriculture Collective
Member | NDSU Saddles & Sirloin Club
Member | NDSU Dairy Club