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National Dairy Shrine gives awards to four Wisconsin dairymen

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer
National Dairy Shrine Logo

The National Dairy Shrine is naming three Wisconsin men as recipients of this year's Pioneer Award, and is also naming a Wisconsin native as this year's Dairy Shrine Guest of Honor.

The awards recognize distinguished leaders in the national dairy industry who have made significant contributions to dairy farming.

Pioneer Award winners include Allan Bringe, a dairy extension specialist and dairy science professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison; Harold Barnum, the inventor of the Whirl-Pak sterilized sample collection bag from Fort Atkinson; and Randy Geiger, a dairy cooperative leader from Reedsville.

Allan Bringe was posthumously awarded the 2020 Pioneer Award from the National Dairy Shrine.

Bringe, who died in 2018, earned his bachelor's, Master's and Ph.D. degrees from UW-Madison. He served as a youth dairy specialist and taught children through 4-H programs, Future Farmers of America chapters and dairy breed organizations. He was also the creator of the 4-H Dairy Days program that still runs today.

Bringe pioneered the move to monthly somatic cell testing among individual cows after completing his doctoral degree. Because of his efforts, Wisconsin was the first state to offer statewide somatic cell testing in the state's dairy herd improvement program.

Harold Barnum was posthumously awarded the 2020 Pioneer Award from the National Dairy Shrine.

Barnum, who died in 1981, earned his bachelor's degree in agriculture from Montana State University and his Master's degree in dairy husbandry from Michigan State University.

After spending decades working for the public in milk sanitation, Barnum pioneered the "universal sampling procedure" that helped track milk sample information on butterfat, protein and somatic cell count. This then inspired him to invent the Whirl-Pak, a sterile container for milk that wouldn't break or leak, make sampling easier and cost less for dairy farmers.

Randy Geiger was posthumously awarded the 2020 Pioneer Award from the National Dairy Shrine.

Geiger, who died in 2019, grew up on his family's dairy farm and became a lifelong dairy farmer. He and his wife Rosalie established their own farm, Ran-Rose Dairy Farms, in the late 1960s, where they bred registered Holsteins.

Throughout the years, Ran-Rose earned many awards, including the Manitowoc County DHIA Udder Health Award (for 19 straight years) and National Mastitis Council’s National Dairy Quality Award. Geiger was also president of the Manitowoc Milk Producers Cooperative for nearly 20 years and helped create the FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative in 2013.

Jay Mattison won the National Dairy Shrine's highest recognition, 2020 Guest of Honor.

Jay Mattison, CEO of the National Dairy Herd Information Association and Verona native, has been named the Dairy Shrine's Guest of Honor.

Mattison earned his bachelor's and Master's degrees from Iowa State University in dairy science and animal production and breeding, respectively. He worked in genetics research for many years until becoming CEO of the NDHIA in 2003.

Mattison also led the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding, which maintains the world's largest dairy database, during a tough time for the organization as it transitioned to being a non-profit entity. He has been a member of the Board of Directors for the CDCB for 16 years and has also served as chair and vice-chair on multiple occasions.