World Dairy Expo® honors 2018 Outstanding Dairy Leaders

Wisconsin State Farmer

MADISON - World Dairy Expo will recognize the recipients of the 2018 Expo Recognition Awards at the 52nd annual World Dairy Expo (WDE) in October. The honorees were nominated and selected by their peers for their contributions and excellence in the dairy industry and their community.  

Pete Kappleman

Recognition Award honorees   

WDE will honor four outstanding dairy leaders as the 2018 World Dairy Expo Recognition Award Winners. Dedicating their lives to their local dairy communities and the greater global dairy industry, the impact of each of these individuals has reached around the world and back.  

The 2018 Dairy Woman of the Year is Jeannette Sheehan, Sheeknoll Farm in Rochester, Minnesota; Pete Kappelman, Meadow Brook Dairy Farms, LLC in Two Rivers, Wisconsin is the Dairyman of the Year.

The Industry People of the Year are the owners of Sunshine Genetics in Whitewater, Wisconsin, Dr. Dan Hornickel and Dr. Chris Keim while the International Person of the Year is Dr. Alastair Pearson, WWS China Co, Ltd, Beijing, China.   

These dairy influencers will be recognized at the Dinner with the Stars banquet on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center. The celebration will begin with the WDE Welcome Reception featuring complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks at 5 p.m., followed by a ticketed banquet at 7 p.m.

Everyone is invited to attend this event honoring the award recipients.   

Dairyman of the Year  

Pete Kappelman owns and operate Meadow Brook Dairy Farms, LLC in Two Rivers, Wisconsin with his wife Shellie. Home to 470 Registered Holsteins and Brown Swiss, Meadow Brook Dairy maintains a rolling herd average of 32,000 pounds of milk, 1,100 pounds of fat and 1,000 pounds of protein while managing 1,100 acres of alfalfa, corn, wheat, rye, grass and oats.

Active in his community, Kappelman serves on the Board of Directors for Immanuel Lutheran Church, the Economic Development Corporation for Manitowoc County, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Association and Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center. He is also an active 4-H club leader and girls’ basketball coach. 

Kappelman has impacted the national and international dairy industry through multiple terms as the Board Chairman for Land O’Lakes Inc., service to the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation’s Board of Directors in addition to time as the Ag Policy Advisor to the United States Secretary of Agriculture and the United States Trade Representative.

Believing in the importance in providing people with the tools, education and livestock that are needed to make a long-term, sustainable difference, Kappelman has participated in several service trips to Africa and other developing countries as well as dedicated time as a board member for Heifer International. 

Kappelman has been recognized with numerous awards including the Wisconsin Dairy Farm Family of the Year, Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer Award and Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer Achievement Award.

The Kappelmans have three grown children, Beth, Mitch and Erin, and two grandchildren.   

Jeanette Sheehan

Dairy Woman of the Year 

Jeannette Sheehan lives in Rochester, Minnesota where she owns and operates Sheeknoll Farms with her husband Robert and other members of the Sheehan family. Sheeknoll Farms consists of 300 cows at two locations and 1,000 acres of land used for crop production.

Sheehan plays a key role in managing the 55-cow tie-stall site with her husband where she primarily focuses on calf and heifer care. This location is also home to Sheeknoll Durham Arrow, the 2016 Grand Champion of the International Holstein Show and Reserve Supreme Champion of World Dairy Expo that Sheehan led across the colored shavings. The herd at Sheeknoll has earned Progressive Genetics Herd Awards and Progressive Breeders Registry Awards for the past two decades and currently has a herd BAA of 109.

Off the farm, Sheehan is a voice for the dairy community through involvement with Minnesota Ag in the Classroom, Midwest Dairy Association’s “Speak Out” program and the AgStar Miracle of Birth Center at the Olmsted County Fairgrounds, which she helped establish. She gives her time to St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in multiple roles, as a volunteer at St. Francis Elementary School and as a committee member for Olmsted County Extension.

Sheehan has served as an official judge of the National 4-H Dairy Judging Contest at World Dairy Expo 12 times while also coaching the Olmsted County 4-H Dairy Judging Team to numerous national awards. She is an active member of the Minnesota Holstein Association, a board member of the Olmsted County American Dairy Association and Olmsted County DHIA and is involved with the Southeast Minnesota Ag Alliance.

The Sheehans have three adult children, Kelly, Andrew and Krista, and six grandchildren. 

Industry People of the Year 

Dr. Dan Hornickel and Dr. Chris Keim are the founders and owners of Sunshine Genetics, Inc. in Whitewater, Wisconsin. In 1983, shortly after embryo transfer was introduced to the dairy community, these friends became business partners as they founded Sunshine Genetics.

Chris Keim

This pair of doctors, known to many as the Sunshine Boys, has developed their company into a thriving business that not only performs traditional embryo transfer work but also markets embryos world-wide for clients, offers in-house ovum pick up and invitro fertilization and donor housing.

Opening the doors of their facility, Drs. Hornickel and Keim host and train international veterinarians on embryo transfer processes and have established a relationship with the University of Wisconsin to provide on-farm experiences for veterinary students in addition to offering five students short externships. During these trainings, students often join the Hornickel or Keim family for dinners, dairy talk and overnight stays. Interacting with younger students, the Sunshine Boys graciously host youth judging teams preparing for World Dairy Expo contests and for over two decades have invited teams to dinner and a night of “talking dairy”.

Dan Hornickel

Sunshine Genetics is also home to the highly-respected Sun-Made cattle, producing top proven Brown Swiss bulls including Pronto, Total and Vigor along with show-winning females. Both men have served on the board of directors for the American Embryo Transfer Association, and routinely give back to their alma mater, the University of Illinois.

Dr. Hornickel and his wife Connie have two adult daughters, Stacey and Lindsay; Dr. Keim and his wife Ann have three grown children, Becky, Aaron and Sarah.   

International Person of the Year 

Dr. Alastair Pearson, Chairman of World Wide Sires China Co, Ltd., is known as the “father of the dairy industry” in China. Born in Australia, Dr. Pearson became a veterinarian before beginning his career in Africa and later, on one of the world’s largest dairies in Saudi Arabia. After gaining experience, Dr. Pearson soon became a dairy consultant to farming companies, investment companies and government agencies in Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Egypt, Australia, China among other countries.

Alastair Pearson

Championing modern farming practices and North American genetics for more than thirty years, he helped establish the first large scale dairy farm in China with 6,000 cows and World Wide Sires China. Dr. Pearson’s work led to a total revolution and evolution of China’s dairy industry that today boasts more than one million cows in large-scale, modern facilities and has imported millions of units of semen from American bulls making the country one of the largest importers of United States genetics.

Believing in empowering people, Dr. Pearson’s influences on the dairy industry in the middle east and east Asian countries can be seen through educational efforts focused on controlling and preventing Foot and Mouth Disease, Brucellosis and other impactful dairy cattle diseases as well as improving managerial practices.

Many of the top herd managers in China today trained or worked under Dr. Pearson. Dr. Pearson’s service to the global dairy industry is also highly visible through his former role as CEO of Inner Mongolia Mengniu Austasia Dairy Farm Co. Ltd. and most recently as the CEO of China Modern Dairy Shang He Dairy Farm Co. Ltd.  

These dairy leaders will be recognized at World Dairy Expo’s Dinner with the Stars, Oct. 3, in the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center. Banquet tickets are available by contacting the WDE office at 608-224-6455 or

Prior to the banquet, the WDE Welcome Reception gives all Expo stakeholders and attendees the opportunity to celebrate and interact with these honorees while enjoying complimentary hors d'oeuvres.