Lynette Gessell | WingTips Blog | Minnesota Turkey Farmer

About Lynette Gessell

Lynette and her husband, John, raise turkeys in central Minnesota. John is the third in his paternal line to take on the business of raising turkeys. Their daughter and son in law joined them as growers too, and so they mark four generations of raising turkeys.  They raise light hens, which are female turkeys, for Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Lynette also serves on the Minnesota Turkey Research & Promotion Council Board of Directors. She is active in supportive roles for local organizations and her church. She assists the Flensburg Fire Department with the annual grant request for equipment from the Department of Homeland Security.  Each year, she volunteers to help the Swanville Lions Club during the Swanville Summer Carnival and as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army.

Lynette and John have three children and 2 grandchildren.  She enjoys the great outdoors, high school sports and activities, gardening, music, cooking, reading, entertaining, socializing and spending time with friends and family.

Pete Klaphake | WingTips Blog | Minnesota Turkey Farmer

About Pete Klaphake

Pete Klaphake is a third generation turkey farmer from Melorse, MN, and part owner of Klaphake Feed Mill, Inc and R&L Turkeys.  His family business raises around 30 million pounds of hen turkeys primarily marketed as frozen whole birds you find in the freezers of grocery stores and they also manufacture and haul all the feed our birds consume out of our feed mill.

Pete is personally involved in running the day to day operations of the turkey farm side of of the family business, which employs around 25 people between the farms and mill. The operation is a combination of 33 fully owned barns, 6 partially owned barns, and 6 leased or contracted barns on 14 farms – all in the central Minnesota area.

Pete and his wife, Brenda, have three children (Abby, 8, Wyatt,  6, and Isaac, 3) and the family lives on one of their farms between Sauk Centre and Melrose.

About Erica Sawatzke

Erica Sawatzke is the Ag Program Specialist/Membership Coordinator for Minnesota Turkey with a life-long turkey background, too. She is the sixth generation of her family involved in agriculture, and her parents own and operate a turkey breeder farm near Kensington, Minnesota.

In her role with Minnesota Turkey, Erica assists in managing issues relevant to the poultry industry b participating in discussions on public policy, production practices, and outreach to the general public through trade shows, FFA, 4-H and other youth activities/events, classroom visits, and much more.

Erica is a 2012 graduate of North Dakota State University with a BS degree in animal science. While in college, she worked in the veterinary diagnostic laboratory as well as at NDSU’s dairy farm.

In her spare time, Erica enjoys creating unique works of art through welding, and has a talent for repurposing old furniture and other items into beautiful home decor. She and her husband, Eric (an agriculture teacher at the high school level), live in the Buffalo area and they both enjoy advocating for agriculture in a variety of ways.

About Lara Durben

Lara is Minnesota Turkey’s Communications and Assistant Executive Director and she has worked for the organization for over 21 years. Lara coordinates all communications activities for the organization including Gobbles magazine, various member email newsletters, website, social media, and working with the media. She also assists with the planning of several annual events, including the Midwest Poultry Federation Convention.

Lara writes an occasional blog post for‘s Women in Ag blog series and is a contributor to Ask The Farmers. She also volunteers as a moderator for #FoodChat and #AgChat Twitter chats several times a year, and is a member of the National Turkey Federation’s Marketing and Communications Committee.

Lara is a farm girl from Hector, Minnesota – her parents, brother and nephew run the family’s corn and soybean farm. She has her own personal blog that often covers poultry topics, as well, along with gardening, recipes and family life. Lara and her husband,  Jerry, a 7th grade social studies teacher, have a one son, Joe, currently a 7th grader.

More contributors coming soon!