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Montana Ag Network: Cornell University students tackle Montana wheat harvest

Kate Stephens and Trevor Fecko
Kate Stephens and Trevor Fecko
Posted at 10:37 AM, Aug 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-07 11:47:22-04

Central Montana is well known for its bountiful wheat fields. Winter wheat harvest 2023 is looking up for farmers in portions of the “Golden Triangle.” This year’s harvest is more sentimental to the Stephens family of Dutton, fourth-generation farmers.

“I want to specially thank Trevor and Kate for coming back, they made it just in time to get on the combines and go,” said Mark Stephens.

We met Kate several years ago before her departure to Cornell University last fall. She is the founder of the fashion line “Kate’s Ag: Farm to Fashion.” This year, she’s made the trip home to help her father with harvest and she’s brought an Agriculture Sciences major with her.

“It's pretty impressive the operations that are going on out here,” explained Trevor Fecko, a Cornell University student.

Fecko was born and raised on a waterfront town in Maine and the experience he’s gaining from working in the Montana wheat harvest will last a lifetime.

Montana Ag Network: Cornell University students tackle Montana wheat harvest

“How much work it is because you get up at 7 a.m. and you're not going to bed until 11. That's just from, working, traveling, and working on the combines. There’s a lot that goes into growing the food the country eats.”

Montana pulse and cereal crop farmers have been plagued with a never-ending drought. The Stephens family with the additional helping hands and company is special for several reasons.

“Last year wasn't really all that good and this year we've had some good fields and mediocre fields. Some that still seemed a little dry when we were seeding, and it didn't come up as even as I would have appreciated maybe,” said Mark Stephens.

Kate added, “I remember in some of the fields last year we were reading zero bushels per acre on the monitor. This year we're getting probably close to 80 in some fields. Maybe, even a bit higher.”

Kate also shared that finding help during this time of the year has become increasingly more difficult and Trevor’s addition is beneficial to the farm.

Kate Stephens and Trevor Fecko
Kate Stephens and Trevor Fecko

Fecko has done everything from driving combines in the heat with no air conditioning to maintaining the machinery when the day is over.

“A lot of great lessons, hard work, farming and all that. But also, it's just a just a genuinely good time and a lot of fun to be had.”

As for Kate, she is continuing to bridge the gap between farmer and consumer.

Teen launches "Farm To Fashion" biz

In the past year, she’s had to put her venture on hold due to unforeseen circumstances, but the lines are back up and running; click here to visit her website.

“Not only does your food start on the farm, but so do all your natural fashion products. I've been having a fantastic time being able to see different agriculture in the way it works, as well as sharing the story of my family's fourth-generation Montana wheat farm.”


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