Living the Four H’s in Rural Minnesota
I pledge My HEAD to clearer thinking, My HEART to greater loyalty, My HANDS to larger service and My HEALTH to better living, for my CLUB, my COMMUNITY, my COUNTRY and my WORLD.
The 4-H Pledge isn’t something the Mattsons simply recite; it’s a credo they live by.
“4-H Beef and Dairy Projects have allowed three generations to work side by side,” says Kerri, who grew up on a Wisconsin farm and has served as a 4-H leader for 15 years. “It’s so rewarding to be involved in an operation where parents, kids and grandkids work together to accomplish the day-to-day goals. Our kids learned to accept responsibility at a young age, and they developed a work ethic they can use everywhere.”
It’s these shared values that brought Matt and Kerri together when they were college students at University of Wisconsin – River Falls. Matt studied Ag Business and Animal Science, and Kerri double-majored in Chemistry and Secondary Education. After they were married in 1994, Kerri finished her coursework and graduated from University of Minnesota Morris.
Matt and Kerri have raised their three children on their family farm near Kensington, Minnesota.
Faith, family and farming sustained this family in the face of tragedy when their daughter, Taylor, passed away in April 2021 due to a car accident.
“Looking back, the pandemic was a blessing for our family. We spent more time together, playing games, laughing and growing closer. We will forever cherish those times,” says Kerri. “Our faith in Jesus Christ and his triumph over the grave and his sacrifice for our sins is the cornerstone of our family. Our faith is what gives us the strength to move forward after Taylor’s accident. Even though we are hurting, Christ gives us hope for our future.”
Many of the activities in which Matt and Kerri are involved honor Taylor’s interests. She belonged to the Ben Wade Blazers 4-H Club. Taylor was West Central Area (WCA) Football and Boys Basketball Manager, a WCA Track Athlete, as well as a Main Street Athletics Athlete and Coach. She also served as a Kensington Covenant Church Sunday School Helper and enjoyed showing cattle. Their oldest son, Zachary, works as a butcher. He and his fiancée, Jenna, are planning a September 2022 wedding. The Mattson’s middle child, Austin, graduated in 2021. He is in first year of the Marine, Motorcycle, Powersports Technician program at Alexandria Technical & Community College.
Working in partnership with Matt’s parents, the Mattsons raise approximately 400 newborn dairy bull calves to around 500 pounds each year. They also have 90 cow/calf pairs on pasture. In addition, they grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and small grains.
Matt’s father, Rodger, is the main cattle hauler and closely monitors the calves year-round. He also does much of the tillage work during the crop season. Matt’s mother, Patty, is the farm historian. She keeps records and organizes documents. Matt handles all the logistics. Kerri does the bookkeeping and crop insurance.
“Everyone is invaluable to our operation,” says Matt. “We have one almost full-time employee, Erick, who is like family. He has been with us for more than 15 years and is like another son/brother. We also get part-time help from our sons, our nephew and other friends as needed.”
In 2015, Matt and Kerri took on a Latham® dealership as another income stream.
“We would like to bring additional family members home, so we need other income opportunities like a seed dealership,” says Kerri. “We chose Latham because it is family owned and Latham team members share many of our values. It’s important to work with a company that you trust and for us that is Latham Seeds. Plus, Latham has one of the best seed lineups in the business.”
In addition to operating a multi-faceted farming enterprise, the Mattson family believes it is important to give back to their community. Matt is chairman at Kensington Covenant Church. He serves on the board of directors for Runestone Electric Cooperative and is president of West Central Area (WCA) Ag Boosters. Kerri is the Sunday School superintendent at Kensington Covenant Church. She is past president of the Pope County Farm Bureau and is currently chairing its Breakfast on the Farm. She also serves as the Nora Township Clerk/Treasurer, as well as treasurer for WCA Ag Boosters and the Pope Co. Ag Society.
Community involvement and farm chores don’t get in the way of family time, however. The Mattsons make time to sit down and enjoy meals together. Today they’re sharing with us one of their favorite ways to enjoy the beef they raise. Enjoy their Upside Down Meatloaf recipe below!
Upside Down Meatloaf
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. ketchup
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
3/4 c. milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped (optional)
3/4 c. oatmeal or crushed cracker crumbs
- Grease loaf pan.
- Mix brown sugar and ketchup and place 3/4 of the mixture in the bottom of the pan.
- Mix the remaining ingredients together and put into the loaf pan.
- Put the remaining brown sugar/ketchup mixture on top.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
- Turn upside down to serve.
If you are short on time, use a muffin tin instead of a loaf pan. The baking time gets cut in half!