Sheila was born in St Paul, Minnesota in 1956, and her family moved to River Falls, Wisconsin in 1970. Sheila graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1978 with a Bachelor’s degree in animal science and returned to River Falls to become a loan officer for the Production Credit Association while farming part-time on the Harsdorf family dairy farm. Two years later she and her brother Jim became partners in the family business.
While farming full-time, Sheila recognized the importance of advocating for farm issues. She served on the Pierce County Farm Bureau Board of Directors from 1982 to 1988 and was treasurer for three years. She also served as Chair of the Pierce County Dairy Promotion Committee in 1986. Sheila was a member of the Board of Directors of the Pierce-Pepin Holstein Breeders Association, a graduate of the Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program and actively involved in Pierce County 4-H as part of the Dairy Committee and coach of the Dairy Judging Team.
Despite her significant impact on farming issues and her own family’s farming business, Sheila yearned to make an even larger impact on statewide political issues. So in 1988, with tremendous support from family and friends, Sheila ran and won the seat of the 30th Assembly District in the Wisconsin Legislature. She won a total of five consecutive elections, and finished her last term as a state representative in 1998.
During Sheila’s service to the Wisconsin Assembly, she served on the Agriculture Committee, the Legislative Advisory Committee of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Area Commission, the Legislative Council Special Committee on Land Use, the Assembly Committees on Natural Resources, on Veterans and Military Affairs, and on Colleges and Universities, where she served as the ranking Republican member.
In 1998 Sheila took a brief reprieve to work at home on the family farm. Two years later, Sheila