Next steps: Mower County continues walking the walk

Published 4:25 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Area farmers donated soy-based shoes to local public school district


After the award-winning Stepping Up: From Farm to Frontline campaign completed its first lap, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) was left with big shoes to fill. In 2023, the Council is taking the next steps to make a bigger impact on communities through the benefits of the “magic bean.”

 This year, Stepping Up continues, but with a twist. The statewide campaign is dedicated toward giving back to any organization or entity in Minnesota where the local county boards see a need. Minnesota’s organized county soybean boards are donating to schools, homeless shelters, fire departments, students in need and organizations that make impacts in their communities.  

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The Mower County Corn & Soybean Growers Association donated20 pairs of shoes this spring to students attending Lyle Public School and Grand Meadow Public School and 10 pairs to teachers at LeRoy Ostrander Public School.

 “It’s nice that the soybean growers can work with a company like Skechers to promote a product that uses soybeans that are produced in our state,” said Joel Nelson, past board president. “The fact that we can give back to the people who can use these shoes is great.”

In the summer of 2022, more than 53 counties around Minnesota participated in the first Stepping Up campaign. During 2022, Minnesota farmers and the soybean checkoff donated nearly 3,000 pairs of Skechers soy-based shoes across 120 Minnesota health care facilities.

Mower County, in partnership with MSR&PC, which directs the state’s soybean checkoff resources, continues the Stepping Up campaign to promote the value-added uses of soybeans and make community connections.

 The continuation of the Stepping Up campaign aims to inform more consumers of the value that soybeans bring to the market as well as how versatile the crop is. Minnesota farmers also want to honor groups in their communities that are making a difference.

 The Mower County students who received the shoes will put them to good use.

 The board previously donated 50 pairs to frontline health care workers at Wildwood Grove Assisted Living & Memory Care in LeRoy.  

 “The Council felt the drive to provide more funds to continue Stepping Up after seeing the impact on the recipients,” MSR&PC Chair Joe Serbus said. “Health care workers were thankful and appreciative of the gesture last summer, so we chose to continue to spread our message on soybean versatility and the delight the shoes bring the recipients.”

 Big ROI

In 2020, Skechers released its GO line of footwear, which uses soybean oil to improve grip, stability and durability. Skechers is using the same checkoff-supported technology featured in Goodyear Tire Company’s line of sustainable soy-based tires, which incorporated soy into its rubber technology.

 By using soybean oil in Skechers’ GO line, Goodyear’s tire compound reduces petroleum-based use, ultimately cutting energy consumption, weight and promoting sustainability while increasing efficiency. 

For each dollar Mower County soybean farmers pay toward checkoff resources, growers receive an estimated $12.34 in return value. More than 1,000 commercially available products – ranging from shoes to machinery lubricants to asphalt – use commodity and high oleic soybean oil.

 Learn more about Stepping Up by visiting