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Crop Watcher

Farming over football: Minnesota farmer chooses a life closer to home

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Ryan Vos checks cattle on his Slayton, Minnesota farm.

You know farming is in your DNA when you turn down an NFL coaching job in order to help run the family operation.

But Ryan Vos said he doesn’t regret his decision to decline an offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers right out of college.

“I’m a family man,” he said.

Vos is the fifth generation on his Slayton, Minnesota farm. He farms with his dad, Dale Vos, and brother Kyle on roughly 3,000 acres collectively. They grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa along with raising black Angus and swine.

Vos will be the 2022 Tri-State Neighbor crop watcher for southwestern Minnesota.

While pursuing an agricultural degree at South Dakota State University, Vos was watching a football game at Buffalo Wild Wings, when he caught the attention of Mitch Viger, one of the Jackrabbits’ offensive coaches at the time.

The two started talking about the game and Viger could see that Vos had a special eye for the sport. He introduced him to long-time South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier, who after viewing tapes with Vos, told him he sees the field differently than most people, that he sees it like a coach.

So Vos signed on as an offensive student coach his freshman year, working mainly with running backs. He remained on staff until his graduation. Some big time coaches saw his work, and Tampa Bay called with a coaching offer.

“At that point, I had to really take a minute and think to myself, ‘what do I see myself doing in 10 years?’” Vos said.

He knew that if he accepted the offer he would be traveling a lot.

“Football isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle,” he said.

Vos weighed his options but decided that ultimately, family and farming are what mattered most.

This summer, he and his fiancé Mallory are getting married, and they plan to have a family of their own. He knew if he took the coaching job, he would be gone more often than not and would miss out on family time.

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Ryan Vos is the southwestern Minnesota Crop Watcher for the 2022 growing season. Vos is a fifth-generation farmer near Slayton, Minnesota. Vos farms roughly 3,000 acres with his dad, Dale Vos and brother, Kyle Vos. He raises black Angus, swine, corn, soybeans and alfalfa.

“I decided I don't really want that in my life because you don't get to watch your kids grow up. And that was a big thing for me. I'm a big family person and I want to be able to be there for my kids and watch them all grow up,” he said.

Vos hasn’t given up football completely, however. He works with his hometown high school football team, the Murray County Central Rebels, helping the quarterbacks develop their skills.

He’s also an avid Vikings fan. He and his family host watch parties every Sunday.

Along with part-time coaching and full-time farming, Vos works as the morning show host on KJOE, Slayton’s country radio station.

What started out as a temporary, fill-in slot has turned into three years of daily hosting duties with no sign of signing off in the near future.

As a morning show host, Vos is relegated to only playing three songs per hour. The rest of the time is dedicated to talk.

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Ryan Vos works as the morning show host on Slayton, Minnesota country station 106.1 KJOE.

“I talk about whatever comes to my mind when I hit the red button,” he said.

Along with talking about sports and the community, Vos uses the radio platform to advocate for agriculture.

He strives to keep the show interesting for people in agriculture and non-ag people alike.

“I just really want people to know that what we do is good,” he said, referring to America’s ag producers.

Vos also lends his time to his local ag organizations. He’s a member of the Murray County Central FFA Advisory board, serves on both the corn and soybean county boards and looks forward to re-joining the Murray County Cattlemen’s Association.

In 2020, Vos was named a national Asgrow Yield Champion for soybeans.

With so much on his plate, Vos is one busy guy, though not unusual for a farmer.

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Ryan Vos checks over a load of hay.

He gets up at 4:30 a.m. and is at the radio station by 6 a.m. Then he goes home to take care of the cattle, followed by pig chores. After that, he heads over to his dad’s place where he works until 8:30 or 9 p.m.

“Then I get up the next day and do it all over again.”

Vos said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

As a fifth-generation farm, this history that accompanies Vos Farms is integral to the operation. So much so, the family created an on-farm museum, home to equipment, tools, photos and more that the family has used in their 130 years.

“It’s pretty special,” he said.

Melisa Goss, Associate Editor for the Tri-State Neighbor, is a South Dakota farm girl whose love of travel has allowed her to see ag’s vital impact around the world, from America’s heartland to the rice paddies of Southeast Asia and many places in between. She makes her home in Sioux Falls with her husband, daughter and miniature schnauzer. You can reach her at mgoss@lee.net.

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