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Jurgens honored after 54 years: Taylor rancher, seed salesman receives chamber’s Ag Family of the Year award

Press Photo by Bryan Horwath Bob and Linda Jurgens stand next to their feedlot at their ranch near Taylor. The Jurgens were honored as the Ag Family of the Year by the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerence during a banquet on Oct. 22. They have been in business for 54 yeras.

TAYLOR — Bob Jurgens never anticipated getting into the seed corn business after graduating from high school in the late 1950s.

Flash forward 54 years and Jurgens can look back fondly on a career move that has worked out well for him, his family and the many customers of Jurgens Feedlot just west of Taylor.

During its annual banquet at the Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge Oct. 22, the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce recognized Bob and Linda Jurgens as its “Ag Family of the Year” for 2013.

“It was a total surprise,” Bob said. “We’re just thankful and grateful. We didn’t expect anything like it, but it’s certainly an honor. We don’t know who was considered or what the criteria were, but we’re very thankful.”

In 1959, Bob was approached about entering the seed business after a neighbor turned down an opportunity to get into seed corn sales.

“After high school, I was farming with my dad and that’s what I expected that I would end up doing,” Bob said. “Then the seed corn territory man came and offered me a chance to sell. He asked our neighbor down the road first and he declined and told the territory man to come and see me. Since then, we’ve milked cows, fed hogs and beef cattle and sold seed corn on the side.”

The trick to being successful in any business, Bob says, is to understand it’s always about people, which he said he’s tried to always remember while running his farm and custom feedlot operation.

“The thing I like the most about being in this business is the various people we meet,” Bob said. “I’ve got to meet a lot of implement dealers and a lot of farmers. A lot has changed over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that this is still a people-to-people business.”

Though western North Dakota has been witness to numerous changes in recent years, due largely to the Bakken oil play, the Jurgens’ place is in many ways similar to when Bob’s grandmother, Emma (Schlapman) Boehrnsen, homesteaded it in 1904 when she was 21 years old.

Regardless of whether or not the state is in an oil boom — this is the third — Bob said North Dakota has always been a strong agricultural area.

“This is an ag state,” he said. “Ag is still the leading industry in the state, although the oil is influencing a lot. But the two, I think, can work together and I think they do work together for the benefit of the people of North Dakota.”

The Jurgens, members of the Immanuel Church of Taylor — where Bob serves as a member of the council, have two daughters and three grandchildren. Because the family and their business are so respected in the ag community, Jurgens Feedlot and farm service operation even has some second- and third-generation customers.

Mike Renner of KDIX 1230 AM radio in Dickinson, a member of the chamber’s agriculture committee, said the Jurgens are deserving of their award.

“We felt they were a very deserving couple,” Renner said. “They’ve worked really hard over the years and they’re community-oriented people who have done a lot for the production ag community.”

Despite all the changes that a half-century have brought, Linda said she has always appreciated the family’s rural lifestyle on the farm — something she believes is often lost on those living in more populated areas.

“We know our neighbors and we like our neighbors,” Linda said. “In a city situation, you don’t find that. We’ve always had good neighbors and that’s something that’s inportant.”

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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