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Sawyer Cottrell Named 2024 Compeer Financial GroundBreaker of the Year

For Immediate Release


Nora Nolden, Communications Consultant

[email protected] or (651) 245-6804



Sawyer Cottrell Honored as 2024 Compeer Financial GroundBreaker of the Year
Cottrell is a cattle farmer and ag teacher in Eureka, Illinois 


Eureka, Ill., (March 25, 2024) – Sawyer Cottrell, of Eureka, Illinois, has been named the 2024 GroundBreaker of the Year by Compeer Financial, a Farm Credit cooperative serving the upper Midwest. The award honors a young, beginning or small operation farmer who demonstrates resilience, innovation, and dedication to advancing agriculture and their local communities.

As a first-generation cattle farmer and agriculture educator, Cottrell epitomizes the spirit of Compeer Financial’s GroundBreaker of the Year Award. Alongside his wife Abbie and their three children, he owns and operates Legacy Ranch American Wagyuwhere they specialize in raising and direct marketing American Wagyu beef to local customers and shipping it nation-wide. 

Reflecting on Cottrell's selection, Dana Wiegand, Financial Officer at Compeer Financial, remarked, "Sawyer's dynamic approach to farming, coupled with his relentless drive, embodies the essence of our GroundBreaker of the Year Award. His innovative thinking and unwavering dedication, especially as a first-generation farmer, have really set him apart."

Cottrell's impact extends beyond his own farm to his role as an agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor at Eureka High School. Additionally, his entrepreneurial spirit during his own high school years led to the establishment of Central Illinois Beanwalkers, providing weed removal services to local farmers and offering employment opportunities to nearly 120 young people in the community every summer.

“There’s a mentality that if you didn’t grow up on a farm you have no chance of being a farmer – that farming was inaccessible,” said Cottrell. “But, I’ve found there are so many different ways and opportunities to get into agriculture. I truly think anything is possible if you are willing to put in the time and the dedication, and you have the determination to see it through.”

Driven by a desire to create a lasting legacy, Cottrell aims to provide opportunities for future generations. "I’m motivated to do all this because I’m passionate about raising my kids on a farm,” he explained. “I’m motivated by the fact that I didn’t grow up on a farm and I can now give other young people who want to be part of agriculture an opportunity to do what they love.”

Cottrell’s determination, innovative spirit and desire to help others get involved in agriculture exemplify why he’s a great fit for Compeer Financial’s GroundBreaker of the Year Award.

“I love what I do,” stated Cottrell. “I love why I do it, so to selected at the GroundBreaker of the Year is unbelievable. I don’t feel like I’m anything special and I don’t feel like I’ve done anything special. To be completely honest, I feel like all I’ve done is what God told me to do and some days I feel like He picked the wrong person. To know that when I don’t feel like I’m doing good enough, knowing that others recognize what I’m doing means the world to me.”

To learn more about Cottrell’s inspiring story, watch Compeer Financial’s 2024 GroundBreaker of the Year video

Nominations for the 2025 GroundBreaker of the Year Award will open in early summer 2024. Learn more about the award and eligibility criteria at

About Compeer Financial

Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities. The $31.9 billion organization provides loans, leases, risk management and other financial services throughout 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Based in the Upper Midwest, Compeer Financial exists to champion the hopes and dreams of rural America, while providing personalized service and expertise to clients and the agriculture industry.

Compeer Financial is the third largest cooperative of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of lending institutions supporting agriculture and rural communities with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. Learn more about Compeer Financial.


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