Alltech's Most Valuable Employee carries on father's legacy

Dan Hansen
Derek Dusek, center, receives the Alltech Most Valuable Employee Award and $500 check during the recent Alltech Dairy School at Lambeau Field. Joining him from left, are Lee Kloeckner, AgPartners, Bailey Fagerland, Dusek's fiancee, and Gabriella and Sue Dusek, his sister and mother.

Green Bay –  Among the greatest challenges currently facing Wisconsin dairy producers is finding, and retaining, qualified employees.

These are men and women who follow protocols, respect managers, owners and fellow employees and are able to work through adversity.

Alltech recognizes these valued dairy employees as an important part of its annual Dairy School that draws more than 100 farm owners, managers, and other ag processionals to Lambeau Field for valuable seminars on various aspects of dairy farming.

“The best employees add value to the dairy by thriving in their roles, who possess an exceptional work ethic, exhibit integrity and engage in their responsibilities, creating a safe and positive work environment for their co-workers, and speaking highly of their employers, both on and off the farm,” said Jorge Delgado, manager of the Alltech Training, Talent Development and Retention Program for Dairy Workers. 

“When dairy farms and their employees develop long-term relationships and celebrate each other’s hard work, everyone involved reaps valuable benefits,” he stressed. 

Maintaining strong employee relationships requires investments from both the employee and the employer. “The best employers focus on employee training, provide a safe work environment, create a favorable culture on-farm and recognize good employee work habits and productivity,” stated Delgado.

MVE finalists

The Alltech Most Valuable Employee Award recognizes the value of dairy farm employees with exceptional work ethic, that exhibit integrity and engage in their responsibilities on a dairy farm in the region, which includes Wisconsin, Minnesota and northern Illinois. Nominations are made by a farm manager, dairy owner, farm consultant, or nutritionist based on areas such as perseverance, honesty and integrity, and the finalists were honored during the annual Alltech Dairy School on Thursday, Dec. 1, in Green Bay.

“Alltech Wisconsin is pleased to present the 2022 Most Valuable Employee (MVE) Award to Derek Dusek of Dusek Family Farm in Pepin, Wisconsin,” announced Delgado. “We are proud to honor Derek as this year’s Most Valuable Employee Award winner and to thank him and his family as they continue to work hard on their family’s dairy farm every day,” he added.

From an early age, Dusek had a desire to be involved on his family’s dairy farm. At the age of 3, he would sneak out in the morning to help his father and grandpa do chores. As he got older, he could not wait to get home from school and help with whatever farm activity was happening and he would even try to convince the bus driver to drop him off at the field they may have been working in at the time. When Derek was in high school, he and his father Mark began to make plans to build a new parlor and grow their dairy herd from the 84-stall barn where they were currently milking.

In the fall of 2018, Mark was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While Mark was undergoing treatment there were several challenges facing Derek. With determination and long hours, he was able to overcome limited labor. When Mark passed away on August 30, 2019, they sold several cows to get the herd size down to 84 cows to reduce the workload. After all the adversity, Derek was faced with a decision to quit farming or carry on his father’s legacy.

Choosing to do what he loved, Derek began to rebuild the herd. In February 2022, they leased a nearby dairy facility with a parlor and freestall barn and are now milking about 160 cows. Derek has become the father figure to his 14-year-old sister and works closely with his brothers to complete the day-to-day tasks on the farm.

Dusek was nominated for the award by Lee Kloeckner of AgPartners. “I chose to nominate Derek because he’s very deserving of this award from what he’s been through and how he’s excelled with everything that he has done,” said Kloeckner “He went from working with his father to being the person in charge, Derek does it all.”

The other finalists honored during the Alltech Dairy School included Mitch Guyette of Norm-E-Lane Dairy, nominated by Jim Barmore of GPS Dairy Consulting; and Angel Sánchez and Estela Melenudo of Zirbel Dairy Farm, nominated by Kris and Chelsea Scheider of Zirbel Dairy Farm.

The 2022 Alltech Dairy School began on Wednesday with tours of Wichman Farms, Seymour, Hoffman’s Happy Holsteins, Peshtigo and Green Valley Dairy , Krakow.

Thursday began with a breakfast panel discussion featuring Shaun Hardtke of Future Cow, Robert Barker with On Farm Solutions and Keith Hoeing of Benton Dairies.

Founded in 1980 by Irish entrepreneur and scientist Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech delivers sustainable solutions for agriculture. Its diverse portfolio of products and services are designed to improve the health and performance of plants and animals, resulting in better nutrition for all and a decreased environmental impact.

Headquartered just outside of Lexington, Kentucky, USA, Alltech serves customers in more than 120 countries, has five bioscience centers, and operates more than 80 manufacturing facilities across the globe.

The team of 5,000 produces specialty ingredients, premix supplements, feed and biologicals, backed by science and an unparalleled platform of services. More information is available online at