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Henderschiedt is new Nobles County Feedlot Officer

WORTHINGTON -- When Al Langseth left his position as Nobles County Feedlot Officer in December to become the feedlot officer in Carver County, he left some big boots to fill.

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Kathy Henderschiedt was named the new Nobles County Feedlot Officer in late December. (Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - When Al Langseth left his position as Nobles County Feedlot Officer in December to become the feedlot officer in Carver County, he left some big boots to fill.

Kathy Henderschiedt knows this, but she’s ready with two new pairs of boots waiting under her desk and ready to grow into.

Nobles County’s new feedlot officer is a familiar face to many in the ag industry. Henderschiedt has been the one behind the front desk to greet producers seeking permits or information from the county’s Environmental Services office since 1999, though her tenure with Nobles County dates back to 1992.

Initially hired as support staff for the county assessor’s office, her duties expanded in 1997 to assisting the environmental services, emergency management and veterans services offices as well. In 1999, she went full-time with environmental services, where she answered phones, typed up minutes from the county’s planning commission and related zoning meetings and handled other administrative secretary duties.

“The feedlot program was just getting started,” she recalled. “They were in the infancy of doing the entire inventory of feedlots in Nobles County.”

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The county’s state-delegated feedlot program was established in 1995. When Henderschiedt joined the staff in 1999, one of her first roles was to develop a database for all of the feedlots in Nobles County. For the past 15 years, she’s been the primary support staff for the feedlot officer.

The role certainly came with a learning curve for this Dakota City, Iowa, native, who moved to rural Worthington after marrying her husband, Steve.

“In order to do the work in environmental (services), I’ve been very lucky that my department head and supervisors have allowed me to attend various trainings and conferences to become more proficient at my duties,” Henderschiedt said. “The more training and education you get, the easier it is to work with the residents of the county in order to achieve the goals.”

Over the years, Henderschiedt has developed relationships with producers across Nobles County by working with them through the feedlot registration and permit process.

“The feedlot program and planning and zoning work very closely together,” she said. “Anytime producers want to expand or start a new site, it involves planning and zoning - as well as the feedlot side.”

In her new role, Henderschiedt will take over where Langseth left off, working with producers on registrations, expansions and, as new sites are constructed, ensuring they are in compliance. The feedlot officer is required to inspect 7 percent of feedlots in the county each year.

“The whole goal of the feedlot program is to make a better environment for the residents of Nobles County by maintaining or improving water quality,” she said. “Those sites that may have runoff issues, I’ll be helping them by working closely with SWCD and NRCS technical support for development of mitigation plans and looking for potential cost-share. There are some large projects that could be done, but funding always becomes an issue.”

The county feedlot officer is tasked with helping producers fix pollution problems by guiding them to agencies that can potentially acquire funding for projects. The role also means working with producers and the the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to obtain all necessary permits, including Environmental Assessment Worksheets (EAWs) and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.

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“We review manure management plans to make sure they’re being followed; we take care of complaints if there’s concerns about pollution problems on a specific site,” Henderschiedt said. “There’s not always something we can do, but it’s our job to investigate and hopefully resolve issues.”

While feedlots and all of the permitting and management that go with them will fill much of Henderschiedt’s time, she has other duties as well, including serving as the county weed inspector.

“The township officials are the weed inspectors for their specific township and all complaints should be directed to township officials,” Henderschiedt said, noting the county gets involved if issues aren’t resolved at the township level.

She is also working toward certification in septic system inspection. The certification process takes about a year and a half to complete.

With all of her duties, Henderschiedt will work closely with feedlot officers in neighboring counties, and get support from regional feedlot officials as well.

“Networking with your fellow CFO’s (County Feedlot Officers) is invaluable,” she said. “If you’re having an issue here, there’s probably another county that has run into the exact same scenario. You tap into those resources.”

Henderschiedt said more than 50 percent of the county feedlot officers working in Minnesota today are female, and while it wasn’t a role she envisioned for herself, she’s ready to learn.

“My vision was that (my career) would be a little more planning and zoning than feedlots, but the opportunity came up and I’m willing to try it,” she said. “The producers in the county are very good as a whole. I think that they will help me transition. I’ve built a lot of relationships with them.

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“Al was very good at knowing the rules,” she added. “I’ve got some very big shoes to fill.”

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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