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Sterling resident takes part in Farm Rescue

STERLING – Ken Duncan, a Sterling land broker, read a Reader’s Digest story a year ago about a group that helps farmers in tough situations.

He became interested.

Recently, he took part in an effort by North Dakota-based Farm Rescue to help a family harvest their soybean crop in Ulen, Minn.

The mother, Staci Klemetson, in her late 30s, had terminal cancer. Her husband, Matt, was taking care of her and their five children – all younger than 13.

She died last week.

Duncan, 46, was among eight volunteers to help harvest the 1,000-acre farm.

Farmers traditionally help other farmers, Duncan said, but neighbors struggle to assist others during the harvest because they’re harvesting at the same time. Farm Rescue brings in farmers from other areas who aren’t busy with their own crops at that time.

“Timing is critical,” said Duncan, who helps Sterling’s Jakobs Brothers Farms with its harvest. “Farmers have to take out the crops in a certain time frame. Farm Rescue is there for peace of mind.”

He also was part of a filming crew on a recent project for RFD-TV, a channel that tailors its shows to farmers. The program, expected to air later this year, included an interview with Klemetson.

She sat outside on a warm day.

“Her attitude was amazing,” Duncan said. “You could tell she was a fighter. She had a very strong faith. She had come to terms with it.”

She showed “overwhelming” emotion at Farm Rescue’s help.

Besides the harvest, the family had other stresses, Duncan said. The children, for instance, whose mother home-schooled them, had to attend public schools.

Duncan was especially drawn to Farm Rescue because of his own experiences. His wife, Donna, died 8 years ago from cancer.

Klemetson’s case “really hit close to home,” he said. “I related to them.”

Also, when Duncan was in his junior high years, his stepfather, Walter Mennenga, had health issues.

“Neighbors pulled in with all of their equipment and farmed for us,” Duncan said. “That meant something to me.”

To help

Farm Rescue is a nonprofit group that plants and harvests crops free of charge for farm families who have experienced a major illness, injury or natural disaster. Operations are funded solely by donations, business sponsorships, and grants.

For more information or to donate, call 701-252-2017, go to or email

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