Mark and Angie Ulness of Valders were selected national winners at the 61st annual National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress held Feb. 9-12 in Greenville, South Carolina.
Four national winners were selected from a group of 10 finalists for the award based on their progress in an agricultural career, extent of soil and water conservation practices, and contributions to the well-being of the community, state, and nation.
Guest Master of Ceremonies, Orion Samuelson (WGN Radio and “This Week in AgriBusiness” on RFD-TV), announced the four national winners and interviewed them for his show that will air in the coming weeks. The three other national winners for 2017 are from Georgia, Illinois, and Mississippi. National winners received a savings bond from corporate sponsor John Deere and the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., during National Ag Week in 2018.
The Ulnesses are raising four children, Clarissa, Garrett, Whitney, and Walker, on their dairy farm, where their philosophy is simple: “We work hard every day in the interest of our strong faith, family, and farm.”
Mark and Angie both earned bachelor’s degrees in dairy science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Their focus on their dairy has been efficiency. The milking system was updated to modern technology that allows them to monitor information on each cow and digitally adjust and calibrate the pulsation and vacuum settings.
An injection toolbar is used to distribute manure on the fields from the 2 million gallon in-ground clay-lined manure pit that can hold almost two years of waste production. A new system also captures runoff form the barnyards and carries it to a concrete spreader that disperses the water over a vegetative treatment area.
Mark and Angie are active in many organizations including Foremost Farms USA, Eastern Wisconsin DHIA, youth sports, AGR fraternity, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin and US Holstein associations. Mark is the county Holstein Association president, and Angie is a graduate of the Young Dairy Leaders Institute. They serve as 4-H leaders and dairy judging coaches and are active as church volunteers.
The NOYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, selecting its first group of national winners in 1955. The program is sponsored by John Deere, administered by the Outstanding Farmers of America (OFA), and supported by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and the U.S. Jaycees.