George and Shirley Hazle, St. Johns, are recognized by United Dairy Industry of Michigan board president and Jeddo, MI, dairy farmer Jim Reid (right) during Michigan Youth Dairy Days award ceremonies held at this year’s Michigan Dairy Expo.
Photo By Michigan Milk Producers Association
United Dairy Industry of Michigan recognizes Clinton County couple
The United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) has honored Clinton County dairy producers George and Shirley Hazle, St. Johns, for their many years of leadership to the dairy industry.
The couple was recognized at the 4-H dairy youth program awards ceremony held on July 19 during the Michigan Dairy Expo and Youth Dairy Days at Michigan State University (MSU).
They were presented with a plaque and awarded an expense-paid trip for two to the National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Management, Inc., joint annual meeting this fall in Orlando, FL.
In recognizing the Hazle's, St. Clair County dairy producer and UDIM board president Jim Reid praised the husband and wife team under whose guidance, support and leadership the state's dairy industry has benefited and numerous generations of young people have developed and flourished.
"Perhaps there is no greater responsibility - and reward - for a leader than selflessly investing his or her time and energy to working with young people, our greatest resource and the foundation of the dairy industry's future," he said. "What can you say about two people who started their journey as leaders when they were young - and never stopped - other than, "thank you?"
The Hazle's have collectively served 117 years as county 4-H club leaders. This year marks George's 61st year and Shirley's 56th year as a 4-H club leader and volunteer.
George has worked with dairy cattle for his entire life, first as a herdsman, then as an A.I. (artificial insemination) technician and milk tester before starting to build his own dairy herd when his oldest daughter started participating in 4-H.
Shirley, a crop farmer's daughter who swore she'd never marry a dairy farmer, took on dairy farming as a full-time career after working 30 years as a milk tester.
The couple, who will celebrate their 62nd anniversary in November, is still actively dairy farming at their rural St. Johns operation where they milk 60 head of registered Holsteins and Brown Swiss animals.
Familiar faces in local, regional and state dairy industry circles, George and Shirley have been active members of numerous dairy industry organizations, served in various leadership roles, and received recognition in appreciation for their leadership and volunteer efforts.
"We both started young and never stopped," Shirley said.
The Hazle's have been active members of the state and national Holstein associations for more than 60 years. They have attended more than 40 national conventions, at which George represented the state as a voting delegate for many years.
The couple has chaired and co-chaired various committees when Michigan served as national convention hosts in 1973 and again in 1997. George is the current president of the Michigan Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders Association and the Michigan Purebred Dairy Cattle Association.
Shirley has served on the UDIM dairy diplomat advisory committee for nearly 30 years, since its inception, chaired its product promotion seminar and served as an associate UDIM board member.
She is a planning committee member - and former chairperson - of the Farm Women Symposium; has been an MMPA dairy communicator for more than 30 years; and is a founding member of the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference committee.
The couple have been active members of and held leadership positions on the county, district and state Holstein association boards, county 4-H board and 4-H Council, the State 4-H Food and Nutrition Committee and State 4-H Dairy Committee, and for the county Farm Bureau chapter.
George has completed terms on the local and state MMPA advisory committee and for the mid-Michigan local. They have also served on the Victor Township planning board and for its historical association.
As a couple and individually, they have received numerous awards, ranging from the Michigan Holstein Association's distinguished Michigan Master Breeder to the Friend of 4-H award, Farm Bureau service award, the MABC A.I. technician of the Year and the UDIM Excellence in Dairy Promotion Award.
They have bred and shown All-American-nominated animals and All-Michigan award winners.
The Hazle's ardently encourage young people to consider the plethora of career opportunities available in the dairy and agriculture industries, but they also offer realistic advice collected over the years.
"If you're thinking about becoming a dairy farmer, you need to get hands-on experience. It doesn't matter if it's on a big farm or a small farm, the important thing is to get experience," Shirley said.
They also encourage young people who are interested in becoming a dairy producer or working on a dairy farm to consider completing the two-year MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology dairy management program or pursue a four-year degree.
"You need education and background before you make a decision," Shirley said. "Farming is a rewarding career and life choice, but it's definitely not something you just go into without preparation."
UDIM is the umbrella organization for the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council of Michigan. These non-profit organizations provide dairy product promotion and nutrition education services on behalf of funding members. For more information about UDIM, visit www.udim.org.