Written by OSU student Kalyn Swihart
Growing up, the last thing Nathan Vandenbroek thought he’d end up doing is working in the agricultural industry. Nathan is now a resident of Van Wert County, Ohio, but he grew up on the west side of Toledo, a city boy. Now, he and his wife, Jessica, and son, Henrik, run a small sheep farm with Jessica’s parents.
Before life on the farm, Nathan had no thoughts as to where his food came from or how it got to his local grocery store. “Honestly, I probably laughed at people in tractors or someone who looked like they might have come from a farm,” said Nathan when looking back on his pre-agriculture past.
In 2013, that all changed when he met his future wife as they worked together at a local pet shop. She had just graduated from the University of Findlay with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and was pursuing a career in agriculture. She came from a small sheep farm where her family raised Tunis sheep for livestock shows.
This was when Nathan was first introduced to the world of livestock, and more broadly, the world of agriculture. “It was way different from what I experienced to that point and from what I expected,” Nathan said. “I ended up liking this new world — the way it operated and the people in it — more than I expected to.”
In 2016, Nathan had the opportunity to participate in Ohio Farm Bureau’s AgriPower program, a year-long, extensive introduction to agricultural issues and public policy. This caused him to fall further in love with the industry and also inspired a new interest: public service.
“That program is really what brought me to what I am doing today, and it is my favorite job,” Nathan said.
In November 2018, Nathan was elected to serve as Van Wert County Treasurer. “I get to serve people in a community I care about who are dependent on an industry I am passionate about. It really is the best job ever,” Nathan said with a “Vandenbroek for Treasurer” sign behind him.
On the farm, the Vandenbroek family is looking to expand. “I am really interested in beef cattle or reindeer, and we want to buy some land to grow crops,” shared Nathan. For now though, the young couple is focused on bettering their sheep flock, gathering eggs from their chickens and starting to teach their one-year-old son about the industry they find so vitally important.