A nearly six-year employee of high-tech giant Adobe, he calls on universities and Fortune 500 businesses throughout the country. At the same time, the tech professional is passionate about staying close to the family farm near Garrison, N.D., where his parents, Darren and Jodi Sletten, grow wheat, canola and soybeans. “I get back to the Garrison area several times a year, normally in the spring for planting and in late summer for harvest. My twin 8-year-old sons, Jaxon and Parker, love the farm, too, and I want them to enjoy the wideopen spaces, keep in touch with their grandparents and learn some of the lessons I experienced on the farm.”
Those lessons, Jacob says, include a strong work ethic: “Once you start a project, get it done and get it done right.” Another lesson was realizing life isn’t always fair, so get accustomed to dealing with adversity and doing it in a measured manner. “I remember being 15 or 16 and Dad had had a couple of things go wrong in one day. I thought it would be a good joke to tell him the rock-picker had broken down, too. What I remember now was how calm he was when telling me what I should do, even though he was struggling through his own day.”
Darren, left, and Jacob, back, share details about developing wheat plants with Parker, left, and Jaxon.
Jacob and his brother Andrew Sletten also picked up a skill for light-hearted banter, like when they poke fun at their dad for his lack of technology prowess and he calls them city-slickers. Andrew lives and works 90 miles away in the Bismarck-Mandan, N.D., area and also helps on the farm.
Dakota Agronomy Partners agronomist Mark Schatz counters these jokes about Darren's technology expertise, saying Darren never shies away from doing research on genetics and yield maps.
"As spring rolls around, the Dakota Agronomy Partners staff is chomping at the bit, and Darren is always one of the first to be ready to spread fertilizer. And if we have a canola grower needing a prescription, we start with the one we have developed with Darren," says Schatz.
Applying his interest in technology as an Adobe employee, Jacob chimes in on his father's precision ag update with agronomist Mark Schatz of Dakota Agronomy Partners.
When their Houston grandsons visit, Jodi and Darren are ready with activities for the kids, especially in the summer when Jodi has time off from her job as a school secretary. The family enjoys kayaking in Lake Sakakawea, four-wheeling, hitting golf balls, cooking, baking and making ice cream.
In addition to being a director on the boards of cooperatives Enerbase and Dakota Agronomy Partners, Darren spreads the word about ag technology by doing things like making a "seeding to harvest" presentation at the Houston elementary school Parker and Jaxon attend. "The students had lots of good questions, so it was fun," says Darren.
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