First State Bank announces the promotion of Richard Wilcox to vice president agriculture/business banking officer.

“Rich joined our ag lending team last fall and is rapidly building relationships with our farm customers,” commented Jeff Whitrock, executive vice president of First State Bank. “This promotion is reflective of Rich’s commitment to our customers and agriculture in the region, as well as the contributions he has made to our organization in a very short period of time.”

Wilcox joined First State Bank in October 2020 and has 19 years agricultural lending experience. He previously was a lender for Portage County Bank, BMO Harris, and United Farm Credit Services. Before becoming a lender, he was plant manager for Wisconsin River Agronomy/Tomorrow Valley Coop.

Wilcox is very involved in the industry. He is the board treasurer for the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association Associate Division, serves as a board member for the Portage County Agri-business Council and the Portage County Dairy Breakfast Committee, and is a supervisor for the National Corn Growers Association Yield Contest. He and his wife, Jill, live in Stevens Point and have two sons.

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By, Alex Paniagua

Last May, The Stephenson National Bank & Trust (SNBT) announced a novel program designed to help the DAR Boys & Girls Club and Crivitz Youth, Inc. Aptly named, “Hometown Giving Back,” it turned a simple checking account into an effortless opportunity to help local youth. The concept resonated well with area residents; SNBT committed to donating a percentage of its own money based on the dollar amount in the Hometown Checking account. At the conclusion of 2020, the Hometown Giving Back Program allowed SNBT to donate $7600, split evenly between the two youth organizations. 

For 2021, the bank has announced it will again make the same commitment and has included two additional beneficiaries of their donations: The Greater M&M YMCA and Pembine Youth Program through Grace Lutheran Church. 

“To most people, this is just a checking account – but to our local youth, it means continued access to a safe and enriching environment. Our youth programs have been hit hard by limitations brought on by the pandemic,” said Daniel J. Peterson, SNBT President & CEO. “We designed the Hometown Giving Back program to ensure ongoing programming for kids. The DAR used the funds from this program for art supplies and STEM circuits. 

“During times like these, people want to help, but they may not know the best way to make that happen. So, we thought of a unique, easy option for anyone wishing to make a bigger impact,” Peterson concluded. 

The details of the Hometown Giving Back program include: 

  • For every dollar held in a Hometown Checking Account as of November 30, 2021, SNBT will donate 0.25% of its own money. 
  • The SNBT donation will be divided equally among four local youth programs. 
  • SNBT is will make the contribution on behalf of its customers. 
  • As the balance in the accounts build, so does the amount the bank will donate. 

To learn more about this unique, community-minded account, visit

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By, Alex Paniagua

The excitement of a new year and a presidential election has brought the markets up and down, so it's sensible to wonder what this year will bring to our farmers. I hope with changing technology, farmers can achieve better yields and prices. Agricultural technologies have advanced rapidly in the second half of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century, changing the way farmers work indefinitely. 

  • Livestock genetics & breeding
  • Crop genetics & pest management
  • Labor and mechanization

Changing farming practices can have both positive and negative effects. For example, the introduction of genetically engineered (GE) seeds, wider adoption of irrigation, and growth in contract sales have allowed farm operators to diminish the intensity of soil tillage, reduce weather-related risks, lower production costs through increased specialization, and mitigate price risk. However, widespread adoption of GE plants is viewed with concern by some consumers, by farmers experiencing weed resistance to herbicides, and by nearby farmers specializing in organic crop production. Wider adoption of irrigation can reduce the availability of water for other uses and has implications for pesticide and fertilizer runoff. Increased contracting can leave some farmers worried about price-fixing and can increase their risk if the contractor defaults. Moreover, the geographic consolidation of larger livestock operations has heightened localized concerns about the handling of manure and its environmental consequences.

Just like farming technology changing for the better, Ergo Bank is not only keeping up with technology but is dedicated to being a leader in technology to better serve our existing and new customers.

I look forward to "seeing you" at the virtual WBA Agricultural Bankers Conference on April 7-8 where we can join together to connect and keep ourselves updated and serve as a resource for our farmers.

Paul Curran is vice president of commercial and ag lending with Ergo Bank in Fox Lake and serves on the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section board.

By, Lori Kalscheuer