Two Young Professionals are Following their Passions in Swift County
Blake Hagen and Tracy Herzog recently graduated from college and have chosen to build their careers, and their life, in Swift County. After graduating from St. John’s University in 2016, Blake Hagen knew he wanted to stay true to his roots and live in an agricultural community, as did his fiancee Tracy Herzog. “Growing up in Morrison/Stearns County, nearly everyone (including my family) in the neighborhood are dairy farmers. I really enjoyed the freedom of living in the country and having the space to run around and play. I loved the connections we had with our neighbors and the farming community and wanted to continue that lifestyle as an adult” commented Tracy. Blake was given that opportunity to move home to Swift County when offered a position with Heritage Bank in Pennock. Tracy was then offered a teaching position here, enabling them to realize their dreams of building a life in a rural Minnesota.
We wanted to learn more about their careers and decision to move to Swift County. Here is what they had to say:
Q: Blake – What made you so passionate about working and living in a rural community?
A: I grew up with my Dad and Grandpa farming and have helped them for as long as I can remember. I wanted to continue doing that.
Q: Did you go to college knowing that you would continue working in agriculture upon graduation?
A: I grew up farming and went to college and always knew that I wanted to continue in the agriculture field but was not exactly sure what that would look like. A while after graduation, the bank was hiring, and I thought I would really enjoy working agriculture from a different path.
Q: What is your role at Heritage Bank and how has your family’s agricultural background prepared you for it?
A: I am an Ag Banking Apprentice with Heritage Bank in Pennock. I work with our AG Lender to help farmers with any financing need. I prepare credit write ups and help to determine creditworthiness from financial and borrower analysis. Being in a rural area and being raised on a farm has helped me in my career as it has made me familiar with the farming process and all the hard work that each farmer puts into it. A benefit to living and working in Swift County is that our rural location helps us maintain a strong working relationship with the local farming community.
Q: Tracy – Did you always know that you wanted to live in a rural community?
A: Yes, I grew up in Upsala, Minnesota so when Blake and I became engaged, I knew I would enjoy living in Swift County. Plus, I love my job!
Q: What inspired you to become a teacher?
A: I am a 6th Grade Science/Social Studies teacher at KMS Elementary School. I grew up in a small town with small class sizes (much like the KMS District). Growing up the second oldest of 5 siblings, I was always taking care of the younger siblings and babysitting for neighbors in the area. I was helping with homework, reading to my siblings, and teaching them what I already knew. Having younger siblings and neighbors, I realized that had a passion for working with kids-- hence becoming an elementary teacher. I love my job as a teacher and also help coach volleyball and basketball.
Living in Swift County has enabled Blake and Tracy to live their passion.
After graduating college, young adults have an opportunity to work or live virtually anywhere in the country. Blake and Tracy could have gone into banking and taught virtually anywhere but few places would have made it possible for them to live out their passions as Swift County has. Blake is not simply a banker. He is an agricultural lender, meaning that he gets to spend his days working closely with the farming community, something that is key to his roots and identity. Tracy is not just a teacher. She is a teacher in a small community, like the one that raised her. Now, she can pour into the lives of students and prepare them for their future, just like teachers did for her growing up. In a sense, their lives have come full circle but in their own way. For example, Blake is still part of the agricultural community, but not as a farmer. He found his own path and living in Swift County is part of what made that possible.
Consider Swift County
We encourage other young adults to also consider Swift County upon graduating from college. It is possible to build a good life here.