Ag Faces in the Crowd

Wisconsin State Farmer

WI Beef Council hires Riley

Kaitlyn Riley, of Gays Mills, has been hired by the Wisconsin Beef Council to serve as their Director of Communications and Outreach. Riley worked for Mid-West Family La Crosse as a farm news reporter, news anchor, and morning show co-host. She also served as the 71st Alice in Dairyland.

Kaitlyn Riley

 In her new her role, Riley’s responsibilities will include oversight of producer and consumer communications, Farm to Fork tours, and efforts to educate Wisconsin consumers about beef production in Wisconsin.

Staffers have new roles on WFBF team

Two members of the WFBF staff team have new responsibilities. Cassie Sonnentag has been named WFBF’s Director of Media Relations and Outreach. Sonnentag has served as WFBF’s District 4 Coordinator since June of 2017.

In her new role, Sonnentag will oversee WFBF’s media relations efforts. She will write press releases and coordinate media events and interviews as well as oversee WFBF’s social media strategy and channels along with WFBF’s advertising.

Marian Viney has been named WFBF’s Public Relations Coordinator. In her role, Viney will write, edit and design content for WFBF’s district newsletters and postcards and assist with writing and editing for the Rural Route magazine. She will oversee the content and distribution of three digital communication pieces.

Both will provide editorial content for Rural Route and other publications.

Ron Amos

UW-RF names Amos WI Distinguished Agriculturalist

Ron Amos, owner and president of Evergreen Nursery Company, Inc. in Sturgeon Bay, has been named the 2021 Wisconsin Distinguished Agriculturalist by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. 

Evergreen Nursery is the largest wholesale nursery in the state. Amos oversees more than 30 employees who annually produce 3 million liners of evergreens, shrubs and birch, and up to 2 million liners of cranberries that are shipped across the U.S. and Canada.

His innovations extend beyond plant propagation and breeding. Amos designed unique containers that foster better root systems in young evergreens. He also served in a leadership role to help Wisconsin develop ecological sound policies to combat invasive plants coming in through horticulture.

Outstanding sophomores recognized by WALSAA

The Wisconsin Agricultural and Life Sciences Alumni Association named its top 10 Outstanding Sophomores based on academic achievement, campus involvement/leadership, community service and relevant experience.

The recipients include: Ryan Gehin, Baraboo; Sakar Gupta, Appleton; Lauren Lansing, La Crosse; Kalina Larsen, Minneapolis, MN; Lydia Larsen, Neenah; Tanner Oyen, Lancaster; Olivia Spaight, Waterford; McKenzie Trinko, Shawano; Olivia Van Hammond, Appleton and Alexis Wery, Brussels.

Kriss Marion

Marion to lead WI Women in Conservation

Blanchardville farmer Kriss Marion has signed on as communications director for the collaborative Wisconsin Women in Conservation (WiWIC) project. The initiative will bring together women through a variety of workshops, field days and mentorship opportunities.

Marion is the founder and a board member of Pecatonica Pride Watershed Association, a producer-led watershed protection council. She also serves on a Water Action Volunteer (WAV) stream monitoring team that assesses water quality on tributary streams, and she sits on the River Alliance of Wisconsin board of directors.

Smith is new NRCS state soil scientist

The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service has tapped Jennifer Smith as Wisconsin's State Soil Scientist. In her new role, she will provide leadership in developing, managing and directing a comprehensive and integrated technical soil services program for farmers in the state. She will also serve as the state liaison with National Cooperative Soil Survey cooperators and be the NRCS resource for leading soil science in Wisconsin to NRCS customers, partners and staff.

Ken Elliott

Elliot named Honorary Klussendorf Recipient

Ken Elliott of Marshall, Wis., is the 18th recipient of the Honorary Klussendorf Award. Considered the highest recognition bestowed on a dairy cattle showman in the U.S., the award is presented in special recognition of a recipient’s involvement in the purebred dairy industry.

For the past two decades, Elliott has served as superintendent of the International Holstein Show at World Dairy Expo and eight years as WDE Assistant Overall Superintendent.

UW-Madison Collegiate FB elects 2021-22 officer team

Collegiate Farm Bureau at UW-Madison elected the 2021-22 officer team during an online banquet on April 28. Billy Zeimet, of Stoughton, was elected as the president. Sabrina Servais, from Chaseburg, will serve as vice president. Serving as secretary is Clarissa Gross of Fort Atkinson. Nicole Broege, of Janesville, will serve as treasurer this fall. The new director of Ag in the Classroom will be Kirstin Novak of Sullivan. Olivia Spaight, of Waterford, will serve as the director of public. Ted Halbach, will continue serving as the Collegiate Farm Bureau advisor.

Marin Bozic

Bozic is board adviser with Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative

Marin Bozic, one of the leading dairy economists in the country, has joined Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative’s board of directors as an adviser. Bozic is an assistant professor in the Dept. of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. His study areas include analysis of dairy policy, risk management and demand for dairy products. Bozic is also a co-creator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dairy Revenue Protection.

Bozic will help the Edge board consider the effects of the various complex issues affecting farmers and processors as the co-op forms its federal advocacy positions.

Daun to lead WFU’s farmer-led watershed efforts

Tara Daun is the new Farmer-Led Watershed Council Coordinator for Wisconsin Farmers Union. In this role, Daun will work directly with farmer-led councils in Dunn, Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties to increase farmer engagement, build council capacity, expand participation in incentive programs, coordinate water testing and programming, and foster conservation in the Mississippi River Watershed.

Tara Daun

Daun will also work with local farmers running test plots and monitoring water quality in their watersheds as week as network with multiple agencies that are concerned about water quality, including faculty and Extension staff, lake associations, agriculture organizations, elected officials, local tribes and environmental groups.

Ag industry group honors Lee with lifetime achievement award

Barbara Lee, Ph.D., director of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent North American Agricultural Safety Summit.

The online Summit was hosted by the  ASHCA. Seeing the need to connect ag safety research with industry, Lee facilitated an initial meeting of farm safety proponents in 2006 to explore the idea of a national, industry-driven ag safety organization.

Barb Lee

Building on her professional networks in safety, government and agri-business, Lee helped secure funding and support, leading to the incorporation of ASHCA one year later. Lee served as ASHCA’s first executive director.

She directed development of an action plan, leading to the National Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative, implemented in 1996 by the NIOSH. She also chaired major efforts establishing voluntary standards for children’s work in agriculture and for protecting nonworking children.

Equity promotions and hires

Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association announced the addition of Bryce Kragness to the cooperative’s Altoona market. Kragness will serve as a field representative, balancing time between serving producers in the country and assisting in the sale barn during sales.

Bryce Kragness
Brittany Hutchison

Becka Jarvis was promoted to office manager at the cooperative’s Bonduel market. In this role, Jarvis will oversee all of the office functions and be responsible for receiving and directing phone calls and will supervise the weighmaster and clerks.

Brittany Hutchison will oversee the office functions at the cooperative’s Johnson Creek market as the new office manager. She will also be responsible for receiving and directing phone calls.

Bob Lightner passed the Series 3 Commodity Broker exam. The test is administered by the Financial Agency Regulatory Authority (FINRA) on behalf of the National Futures Association (NFA). Lightner will assist with commodity brokerage through Allendale, Inc. and coordinate cattle contracts.

Bob Lightner

AWA elects new officer team

The Association of Women in Agriculture elected their new leadership positions for the 2021-22 academic year. At the helm of the organization will be the AWA President, Sabrina Servais, Taylor Schaefer, Vice President; Sophy Henisz, Secretary; and Nicole Broege, Treasurer. Other officers include: Alexis Luedtke, Sara Johnson, Olivia Spaight, Clarissa Gross, Kendra Gillett, Kelsey Maurer, McKenzie Trinko, Alexis Kwak, Kimberly Mason, Grace Vos and Mae Buttles.

AWABC recognizes trio of women

Three outstanding individuals were honored on April 10 by the Association of Women in Agriculture Benefit Corporation at the annual AWA Day. Jill Makovec, Dr. Sandy Curran and Emily Franke were recognized for their contributions to the organization. Makovec was recognized with the AWA Founders Award while Curran was recognized as Outstanding Woman in Agriculture. Franke is this year’s student Outstanding Senior. She will join PDPW as a project coordinator this spring.

Abigail Solum
Brooke Brantner

CAFES outstanding seniors honored at UW-River Falls

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at the UW-River Falls presented two outstanding senior awards at their 38th Annual Senior Supper. Abigail Solum, a food science and technology major from Rice Lake, received the Rochelle Junkman Seymour Award for 2020-21. The award recognizes the graduating senior with the highest GPA in the college.

Brooke Brantner, an animal science major from Menomonie, was presented the Dr. Earl Hildebrand Memorial Award which honors a graduating senior who best exemplifies a combination of scholastic achievement, extracurricular involvement and leaderships roles in CAFES. Students are nominated by faculty and the recipient is selected by the CAFES Scholarship Committee.

Ryan Weigel

Weigel to sit on WDE board

Ryan Weigel, animal science instructor at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, was appointed to a corporate seat on the World Dairy Expo Board of Directors by the Wisconsin Holstein Association. He has been a board member of the Wisconsin Holstein Association for four years and is currently serving on its executive committee.

Weigel has previous experience with the expo, in various capacities. He served on the board of directors when he was employed by Accelerated Genetics. He also worked for the expo for seven years.

Bechel Elected to Serve as WCMA President

Steve Bechel of Eau Galle Cheese Factory in Durand, Wisconsin, will serve as President of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) Board of Directors in the 2021-2022 term, which begins July 1. Joining Bechel as officers are Doug Wilke of Valley Queen Cheese Factory in Milbank, SD, who will serve as First Vice President; Mike Sipple of Agropur Inc.-USA, based in Appleton, who will serve as Second Vice President; Mike Neu of Chr. Hansen in Milwaukee, who returns to his post as Treasurer; and Chris Renard of Renard’s Cheese in Sturgeon Bay, joining as Secretary.

Steve Bechel

Three industry leaders have been elected to join the WCMA Board, including: Tom Dahmen of V&V Supremo Foods – Chula Vista Cheese in Browntown; Kyle Jensen of Hilmar Cheese Company in Hilmar, CA; and Chris Roelli of Roelli Cheese Company in Shullsburg.

Newsmakers in the agricultural world