During the first week of October, Corey Geiger can be found tearing up the colored shavings at World Dairy Expo, serving in a capacity of roles, including helping organize the presentation of the Klussendorf Award.
This year he found himself in the same role, only this time he graced the colored shavings in a different capacity.
Geiger was named the 14th Honorary Member of the Klussendorf Association. Since the Association was formed in 1937, 13 other men have received this special recognition by the membership for their involvement with purebred dairy cattle.
Today the Klussendorf Association presents numerous awards in addition to the Honorary Member, starting with the most prestigious, the Klussendorf Award, named in memory of Arthur B. Klussendorf, considered an outstanding dairy cattle showman of his time.
Other awards established by the Association in later years, in addition to the Honorary Member, are the Robert "Whitey" McKown Master Breeder Award, and the Klussendorf-MacKenzie Award, in memory of Duncan MacKenzie, the 1961 Klussendorf winner.
"This is very humbling," Geiger said when asked how he felt when receiving this honor. "It took a lot of people who built this industry today. It takes a lot of like-minded people to make World Dairy Expo and it’s nice to be considered in this group."
His first experience at World Dairy Expo came at a later stage in his life as compared to the many opportunities afforded to youths today. "I had never been to World Dairy Expo until 1990 when I was on the 4-H judging team. During the first class I looked around in awe, then got back to judging," he quipped.
Geiger has shared his talents with numerous dairy-based organizations including his service as the third secretary-treasurer of the Klussendorf Association for the past 11 years and as president of the National Dairy Shrine.
The newest Honorary Member of the Klussendorf Association became a full-time member of the Hoard’s Dairyman’s editorial staff seven months before graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with dual degrees in dairy science and agricultural economics.
Since then, the Mukwonago award winner has traveled to 45 states, five Canadian providences, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Germany to cover the dairy industry as an assistant editor, and will soon become managing editor of Hoard’s Dairyman.
In addition, he also coordinates and selects cattle for the ever-popular Hoard’s Dairyman Cow Judging Contest, now entering its 83rd competition.
"I’ve spent 17 years learning from great editors, and I’m proud of the writer I’ve become," the World Dairy Expo volunteer said. He added, "When I have a bad day, I look back at the first article I wrote and it reminds me of how I started and how I’ve grown."
Another hat worn by Geiger during World Dairy Expo is superintendent of the Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest. Prior to this, he spent eight years as superintendent of contest officials at the National 4-H Contest.
For his valued contributions to World Dairy Expo, Geiger received the "Friend of World Dairy Expo in 2010.
As far as other notable awards, in 2008 he was recognized as top young agricultural journalist by the American Editors Association and that same year, he won Alpha Gamma Rho’s President Award, given to its top four members under the age of 40.
Sharing his talents
Getting involved is Geiger’s middle name. The Reedsville native enjoys sharing his organizational skills and talents wherever he sees a need.
He was twice elected president of the Wisconsin Holstein Association, fulfilling an interim role and then elected to two consecutive three-year terms on the WHA board of directors.
The two-time WHA former president was instrumental in developing Midwest Holsteins, a joint publication between Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin’s State Holstein associations. There were a lot of meetings and discussions that took place before the publication finally sprouted.
Geiger feels developing the Midwest Holsteins publication is one of his greatest accomplishments. He mentioned it was a lot of work to get the state organizations to work together. "It all came together for the benefit of breeders to promote good cattle at affordable rates," he shared.
His efforts on the WHA board didn’t go unrecognized, as his peers nominated him to represent breeders as a director on the National Holstein Association board of directors.
When asked why he gives so much of his time and effort to organizations and youth, he states, "We need to expose young people to opportunities, or they won’t ever get that chance - we need to continue to open doors for youth."
Because of his passion and involvement at World Dairy Expo, this UW-Madison graduate was asked to be part of creating the 50th Anniversary Book for World Dairy Expo. He knows it will be a challenge, but was honored to be asked. "There are so many great stories from Expo - I want to help make it a great book," he explained.
Geiger is proud of the fact that he was raised on his family’s farm, Ran-Rose Holsteins in Reedsville. Today he still plays an active role on the nearly 400-acre farm, where he owns about a third of the herd of Registered Holsteins.
Ran-Rose Holsteins has been recognized with a Century Award from the Wisconsin State Fair, and is approaching the sesquicentennial mark, as the farm dates back to 1867.
The farm employs one full-time employee, Josh Krahn, and is managed by his parents, Randy and Rosalie, who are both very involved as well in different organizations. Geiger also has a sister, Angie Zwald, territory manager at Pfizer Animal Health.
He tries to get home to the farm four-five times a month, where he analyzes the herd health, assists with the matings and takes an active role in the farm’s marketing program.
Marketing the Ran-Rose herd has always been a passion for Geiger from young on. For example, upon his urging, the herd was classified for the first time when he was 16 years old. They also began flushing prominent cow families and taking photographs as another form of promotion and marketing.
"My parents always approached the farm from a business aspect but always supported me and told me to go for it if I thought it could be profitable," Geiger commented.
Along with his parents, he credits numerous mentors within his home area of Manitowoc County, such as the former Vernon Schultz and former Elroy Borgwardt. Other mentors include his judging coaches Bill Borgwardt and Greg Miller and fitters Tim Natzke and Bart Kasten, to name a few.
The former Manitowoc County youth is now an 11-time Progressive Genetic Herd Award recipient via the Holstein Association USA.
Furthermore, he has bred two 93-point cows, two that have produced over 340,000 pounds of lifetime milk, and has co-bred and owned the 2004 High Honorable Mention All-American Summer Yearling.
Geiger resides in Mukwonago with his wife Krista, a Senior Account Executive for Charleston-Orwig, an agricultural marketing and public relations firm based out of Hartland.