Ag Faces in the Crowd

Wisconsin State Farmer
Rob Hebrink

Compeer Financial CEO to Retire

The chief operating officer of Compeer Financial announced he will retire early next year. Rod Hebrink says he plans to work one more full year at the Farm Credit cooperative, which serves agricultural clients in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

Under his leadership, the cooperative reported its strongest year ever in 2021 with $25.4 billion in total assets and a generous $197 million patronage payment distribution to members. The board will soon begin its search for candidates to succeed Hebrink.

Compeer also announced that Jim Roberge, a veteran of the Farm Credit System, has joined Compeer Financial as the organization’s Chief Diversified Markets Officer. He fills the role held by Mark Greenwood, who retired on Jan. 17.

WI dairy producers appointed to National Dairy Board

A pair of Wisconsin dairy farmers will join a dozen appointees to the USDA's Dairy Promotion and Research Board. Sara Bahgat-Eggert of Clayton will serve a three-year term on the panel, while Randy Roecker, Loganville, was re-appointed for a second term. Other state produces who serve on the board include George Crave, Waterloo; Connie Seefeldt, Coleman; and Becky Levzow, Rio.

Cody McCary

McCary named forage account manager

Cody McCary recently joined Vita Plus as a forage account manager.  As a member of the forage technical team, McCary will contribute to the growth of the Vita Plus forage program while serving customers and providing technical expertise to Vita Plus staff across Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. He has extensive research experience in grass, corn, and sorghum silage production and storage.

Buttke is IAFE Executive Secretary of the Year

Jayme Buttke who serves as the Executive Secretary of the Wisconsin Association of Fairs, was appointed the International Association of Fairs & Expositions Secretary of the Year. IAFE is a voluntary, not-for-profit corporation, serving state, provincial, regional, and county agricultural fairs, shows, exhibitions, and expositions.

Josh Meissner

Meissner appointed to interim term

Josh Meissner, a dairy farmer in central Wisconsin, will serve an interim term on the Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative board of directors, the co-op announced. Meissner was appointed to serve in a vacancy left by his father, Jerry, who passed away in December. Meissner’s term will be up in 2023.

Meissner and his family own and operate Norm-E-Lane Farm in Chili, Wis. Today, they milk about 2,500 Holstein cows and raise another 2,000 cows and heifers, while operating 5,000 acres of cropland for feed.

Chief Investment Officer Olson to retire,

Tom Olson, the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association interim co-chief investment officer and longtime CIO of private markets, retired at the end of 2021 after 16 years of service. He will remain closely connected to the university after his retirement, joining WISC Partners, a regional growth private equity firm headquartered in Madison, as a general partner.

Olson will work alongside UW-Madison engineering alum Mike Splinter and business alum David Guinther at WISC Partners and will be responsible for developing a public-private partnership with the College of Engineering at UW-Madison for the firm’s upcoming Fund II.

Randy Nigh

Nigh is CentralStar Pioneer Award recipient

The CentralStar board of directors recently announced Randy Nigh of Viroqua, Wis., as the 2021 Pioneer Award recipient. Established in 1977, the award recognizes individuals who, through selfless dedicated service and leadership have provided the coop and its members greater prosperity.

Nigh served on the board of directors for 32 years, serving as president for 7 years and vice president 2 years. In addition, he was a director on the Select Sires Inc., board and a member of the Holstein sire committee.

Domke and Smith Join DATCP

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has hired Michael Domke as the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, and Joe Smith as the Director of the Bureau of Weights and Measures. In his role, Domke will lead a staff of consumer protection program specialists, mediators, investigators, and agency liaisons who provide support and education for Wisconsin consumers and businesses.

Smith will lead a team of inspectors, metrologists, chemists, environmental specialists, and regulatory specialists who work to ensure a fair marketplace for Wisconsin consumers.

Tod Fleming

Fleming to retire from Equity

Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association announced that Tod Fleming, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, has announced his retirement. Fleming has worked at Equity for 34 years, beginning his career in 1988.

He has been responsible for directing and supporting effective and efficient livestock marketing operations. In addition to Equity’s auction markets, field services, trucking, order buying, feeding programs and commodities services, he encouraged the development of diverse marketing options that would respond to the changing needs of the producers and help ensure a financially viable future for them and the Cooperative.

Nick Knaapen

Connecterra welcomes Knaapen

Dutch-based startup Connecterra, a world leader in using artificial intelligence to deliver insights to dairy farmers, is announcde that Nick Knaapen from Wilson, WI, has joined the company as Business Development Manager. In his new role, Knappen will be responsible for identifying and developing further business growth opportunities in the Midwest for Ida, Connecterra’s Intelligent Dairy Assistant. He is a graduate of UW-River Falls.

Cattle evaluator Bill Angell passes

William R. “Bill” Angell who was known as an avid livestock evaluator died on January 27, 2022.

Bill was member of the livestock judging team at MSU where he had great success and always valued the instruction he received from his coach and lifelong friend, Dr. Harlan Ritchie.  Upon graduation from MSU, Bill continued his education by earning master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin where his success in livestock judging continued, but this time as the coach. 

Bill Angell

He then moved to Lexington, KY where he coached the livestock judging team at the University of Kentucky. In 1973, he moved to Arkansas as he became a field man for the American Polled Hereford Association.  In 1978, he accepted a position with the Record Stockman newspaper in Colorado. He also served as the Yards Manager at the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) and then the Livestock Manager at the Nebraska State Fair. 

Zagzebski recognized by IDFA

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) recognized the leadership of Dan Zagzebski, President & CEO of Great Lakes Cheese, by honoring him with the IDFA Laureate Award during the association’s annual Dairy Forum. Zagzebski has been with Great Lakes Cheese for 15 years and served as President and CEO since 2015. His focus on infrastructure and innovation has enabled the company to be a leader in cheese packaging and manufacturing in the United States.

Abigail Quinlan

Quinlan to lead WI FFA Foundation

Abigail (Jensen) Quinlan has been selected to serve as the new Executive Director for the Wisconsin FFA Foundation. She began her duties on March 1. Quinlan has focused her career in the nonprofit industry, including work as a marketing outreach specialist for AgrAbility of Wisconsin and corporate alumni engagement officer for the UW-Milwaukee Alumni Association. Her new role will take the lead in fundraising efforts to support FFA programs, conferences, scholarships, events and much more.

WHPA honors several members

Stephanie Slater of Elkhorn was presented the Special Recognition award by the WI Honey Producers Association. Joining her was Charlie Koenen of Milwaukee who received the Education Award for his work promoting honey bees. Jayln Piechowski of Red Granite was recognized as this year’s Youth Beekeeper award. This year’s Pioneer Award winners Tim and Lois Fulton of Kenosha have been beekeepers for over 25 years and run a small-scale honey operation. Doug Hauke of Marshfield is this year’s Beekeeper of the Year. Hauke.

Paul Hazen

Hazen to be inducted into Coop Hall of Fame

Wisconsin native Paul Hazen will be among four outstanding cooperative leaders to be inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fam. Paul Hazen, who spent the first part of his career as the executive director of Kickapoo Valley Association, will receive the honor at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on October 9.

After leaving his legislative post with US Rep. Al Baldus, he led the Kickapoo Valley Association, a shared services cooperative of nine municipalities. Most recently he served as executive director of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council where he created the International Cooperative Research Group, which has helped to measure the impact of and increase funding for international co-op development.

Reid earns NMC's 2022 Award of Excellence

A Wisconsin dairy consultant has earned the National Mastitis Council's Award of Excellence for Contribution to Mastitis Prevention and Control. David Reid of Hazel Green was presented with the honor during the group's annual convention last week. Reid owns Rocky Ridge Dairy Consulting, LLC, which offers milk quality consulting services for individual dairies and dairy industry companies.

Mary Knigge

Knigge honored by Holstein Foundation

The Holstein Foundation has selected Mary Knigge of Falls Church, VA as the 2022 Young Dairy Leaders Institute Distinguished Alumni Leader. Knigge is currently the Vice President of Government Relations for the Dairy Farmers of America, where she advocates on behalf of dairy farmer member owners on Capitol Hill and with U.S. Government Agencies. Prior to that, she spent eight years working for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee of Agriculture and seven years with the National Milk Producers Federation.

DBA, Edge news

In a move to enhance their focus on strategic priorities, the Dairy Business Association (DBA) and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative announced today the promotion of Tim Trotter to a new position of chief executive officer. Trotter had been executive director of the sister organizations since 2015.

Tim Trotter

DBA President Amy Penterman said the change will build upon a smart and flexible strategy Trotter has helped the board of directors develop and has guided for the growing organizations.

Members of the Dairy Business Association re-elected three directors to its board during the group’s annual business meeting at DBA’s Dairy Strong conference. The three board members include Steve Bodart of Compeer Financial, Kevin Collins, Greenleaf dairy farmer and Bob Nagel, partner and manager of Holsum Dairies in Hilbert.

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative President Brody Stapel was re-elected and a new member was voted onto the board of directors during the co-op’s annual business meeting at the Dairy Strong conference. Stapel of Double Dutch Dairy in Cedar Grove, Wis., has served as president since 2018. Jay Stauffacher, co-owner of Highway Dairy Farms in Darlington, Wis., will join the board for the first time.

Jerry Meissner

The late Jerry Meisnner was posthumously honored as Dairy Business Association’s Advocate of the Year. Jerry, who farmed in Clark County, was a founding member and past president of DBA and helped create a sister organization, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative. 

Edge also announced that Travis Senn joined the cooperative as a senior communications specialist and will work to enhance promotion of the organization’s members, services and federal government policy work on its social media platforms, in digital and print newsletters, through media relations and by other channels.

Verville joins Sand County Foundation

Sand County Foundation has named Tricia Verville as its Agricultural Systems Director. Verville will lead Sand County Foundation’s regenerative agriculture initiative in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Basin, where she will work with farmer-led groups to achieve water quality and climate resiliency goals. She previously served as a research project manager and safety lead for the Soil Health Partnership, a project of the National Corn Growers Association. 

Tricia Verville

WFBF hires and more

Erin Tomasik has been hired as the administrative assistant for WI FB’s Governmental Relations department. Tomasik will provide daily support and assistance to the governmental relations team. Steve Mason has been promoted to the WFBF’s treasurer and executive Director of Operations. As the leader of WFBF’s operations team, Mason is responsible for managing the responsibilities of the operations division.

Steve Ingham, administrator for the Division of Food and Recreational Safety, Steve Ingham retired from his position in December 2021. For 14 years, Ingham serves as the state’s top food safety official, working under five different secretaries.

Steve Ingham

Elliott Named 2021 Friend of Expo

World Dairy Expo honored Ken Elliott as the 2021 Friend of Expo. Presented during the annual Friends of Expo Banquet, this award was given in recognition of his dedicated service as a volunteer, partner and supporter of World Dairy Expo.

Elliott began his service to World Dairy Expo 19 years ago as the Superintendent of the International Holstein Show. After 11 years became the Assistant Overall Dairy Cattle Show Superintendent, overseeing over 20,763 animals exhibited during his tenure.

Ken Elliott

Krusemarks win NJAA awards

Madyson Krusemark, Burlington, Wis., has earned the National Junior Angus Association’s (NJAA) Bronze award while Jacob Krusemark earned the Junior Silver Award. They are members of the Wisconsin Junior Angus Association.

Longtime DNR warden wins award

Wisconsin DNR noted that Conservation Warden Mike Disher was awarded the Haskell Noyes Conservation Warden Efficiency Award. The award is the highest honor bestowed to a state conservation warden. Disher has served 19 years from the Chilton administrative station in Calumet County. He is responsible for the entire county and the east shore of Lake Winnebago. Disher assumed the Chilton station after graduating from the law enforcement academy in 2002.

Mike Disher

Kramer is CCA Conservationist of the Year

Adam Robert Kramer of Patch Grove, Wis., is this year’s recipient of the Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) Conservationist of the Year Award. Kramer is co-founder of Black Sand Granary (BSG) and through his work demonstrates to farmers practices and products to boost soil health, improve yield and profit, and create areas for native restoration.

Mark O'Connell

O’Connell tapped as ‘Friend of Extension’

Mark O’Connell, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Counties Association and a longtime leader in local and state government, has been named the national “Friend of Extension” for his work in advising the direction of and advocating for UW-Madison Extension across Wis. O’Connell has been with WCA since 1989.

Wisconsin Corn welcomes Gudex

Wisconsin Corn has hired Brenda Damrow Gudex as the organization’s Communications and Program Manager. In her role with Wisconsin Corn, Damrow Gudex of Juneau will be responsible for all activities related to cultivating and implementing communication, public relations, membership, and market development strategies and programs. 

Leah Urso

Urso joins State Bank of Cross Plains

Leah Urso will serve farmers, agribusiness owners, and local businesses throughout Dane County in her new role on the ag lending and business banking team at State Bank of Cross Plains. Having grown up on a registered Holstein farm and eventually owning and showing registered AQHA horses and registered Holsteins, Urso has in-depth knowledge and expertise in a variety of agricultural areas.

Swenson promoted to office manager

Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association announced the promotion of Jenny Swenson to office manager at the cooperative’s Sparta location. She succeeds Cindy Knutson who retired after 25 years of service.

Jenny Swenson
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