Philip and Laura Finger of Oconto were selected national winners for 2021 at the annual National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress held Feb. 3-6 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Four national winners were selected for the award based on their progress in an agricultural career, extent of soil and water conservation practices, and contributions to the well-being of the community, state and nation.
The winners were announced for both 2022 and 2021 after last year’s event was postponed.
The three other national winners for 2021 are from Georgia, New Jersey and New Mexico. National winners received a savings bond from corporate sponsor John Deere and the opportunity to travel to represent the NOYF at future agricultural events.
The Fingers operate a dairy and grow alfalfa, corn and soybeans on a fifth-generation farm. Concentrating on meeting milk production goals by emphasizing cattle comfort and genetic selection along with improving soil quality have been top priorities for the Fingers, who both hold degrees in dairy science.
Striving for a goal of seven pounds per cow of fat and protein components in the milk per day, the Fingers utilize technology such as collars to monitor estrus activity and genomic monitoring through DNA tissue samples. Laura focuses on calf development, manages the parlor and oversees facility maintenance.
The Fingers strive to present a positive face for agriculture through social media and believe that the role of farmers is to build soil. A comprehensive nutrient management program, three separate manure storage facilities, and grass strips to prevent erosion are all components of their conservation program with an ultimate goal of making the farm sustainable for the next generation, children Alana, PJ, Alisa, and Alivia.
The NOYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the U.S., selecting its first group of national winners in 1955. The program is sponsored by John Deere, administered by the Outstanding Farmers of America, and supported by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and the U.S. Jaycees.