September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
An outstanding graduate and a club supporter were honored, the group heard an inspiring keynote address, and club members' accomplishments were recognized at the event held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, a short drive from the University's St. Paul Campus.
Thomas L. Lyon, former president of the Board of Regents for the University of Wisconsin and former CEO of Cooperative Resources International in Shawano, Wis., began his address on a light note, asking, "Why has a 'has been' like me been invited? I don't have a laptop, iPod, smart phone, or Power Point. I have been left at the electronic starting gate."
Lyon went on, "I know I am standing before a very accomplished group of young adults. I attend the National Dairy Shrine banquet each October and University of Minnesota students always seem to lead the list of scholarship winners. You validate Garrison Keillor's pronouncement that 'All Minnesota kids are above average.'"
Lyon grew up on an Iowa farm with a 40-cow registered Jersey herd.
"We fed the cows individually in a stanchion barn, pushed the manure to the end of the gutter, and forked it into a spreader for daily delivery to the field on a tractor without a cab. We curried and clipped the milking herd routinely, sold some bulls, and-when our best cow produced 50 pounds of milk in a day-we celebrated. A 450 to 500 pound fat herd average was pretty good."
With that, Lyon said, "No part of the United States economy has had to adjust to change more than agriculture, and no sector of the economy has better served the best interests of the U.S. citizenry."
After mentioning some of the technological changes that occurred during his working years, Lyon turned to the skills that the high tech/high investment operations demand-and the opportunities available to young people interested in dairy and agricultural careers. Among those he mentioned were bankers; consultants and managers in feeding, breeding, and crops; veterinarians; accountants; equipment dealers; human resource managers; Chicago Mercantile Exchange traders; and positions in research, teaching, and the life sciences.
He added, "I would be hopeful that a goodly number of you will have and accept the opportunity to return to your family farm."
For those who do, Lyon offered a word of counsel that, before returning, they consider employment in an area of their greatest need, whether it be strategic planning and budgeting, personnel management, or communication.
"Getting production from the cows and the crops may be easy. More difficult is developing a business plan acceptable to the lender, managing the workforce, and separating the communications of the business from personal communications with the family," he pointed out.
Lyon encouraged students to consider their diploma in a different light.
"All of you are attending a public university. You are paying a substantial amount in tuition and fees, but the taxpayers are also paying a hefty amount to subsidize your education. At the end of your college days, you are presented with a diploma. Look upon that diploma as a bill from the public for the services you have received. They deserve having your debt paid back to them in full through the leadership you can provide with the knowledge and skills you have obtained. You are accepting an obligation to serve the next generation."
To be leaders, Lyon told the students, it's necessary to establish a set of core values, to be able to persuade others that their thoughts have merit and bring opposing views together to move forward, to be prepared to leave their differences at the door, to be willing to accept criticism, and to exhibit perseverance.
Lyon concluded, "There is a story about Winston Churchill, a great orator in his time. When called upon to give a speech, he stood up, said 'Never, never, never, never give up,' and sat down. I close by affirming Churchill-never, never, never, never give up in your quest for excellence in your chosen profession and in your public service."
Also making brief remarks during the program were Dr. Mike White, Head of the Department of Animals Science; Dr. Allen Levine, Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Sciences; and Mary Zahurones, Princess Kay of the Milky Way and a member of the club.
Distinguished Service & Golden Graduate Awards
Awards presented to individuals outside the club were the Distinguished Service Award and Golden Graduate.
Bonnie Rae, Executive Administrative Specialist for the Department of Animal Science at the U of M, received the Distinguished Service Award for her support of students and faculty-sometimes as part of her official role and other times just because she loves to help out. Club members appreciate Rae's commitment and efforts to help with club activities. Gopher Dairy Club Reporter Laura Weisz made the presentation, noting that Rae has assisted the club by helping to develop and maintain the GDC website and by formatting and editing material submitted by members for submission to National Dairy Shrine. The award has been presented annually since 1985.
David Pierson received the Golden Graduate Award, presented annually since 2009 to a graduate who has made outstanding contributions to the dairy industry. Pierson was introduced by fellow Holstein breeder Michael Sheehan.
A 1967 graduate of the U of M, Pierson continued his study for a Master's degree in dairy cattle nutrition, then returned to the home farm, which was then located near Lake Elmo, Minn. David and his brother, Dennis, continue to breed registered Holsteins at their Sapa Ska Holstein Farm, now at Lake City, Minn. That partnership allows David to serve in Holstein leadership roles-including the national board of directors of Holstein Association USA and several national committees, among them, the genetic advancement committee.
"David has served with integrity," Sheehan said. "I am truly honored to introduce David Pierson as recipient of the Golden Graduate Award."
In his response, Pierson said, "I owe a great debt to this university. I had many mentors here-the late Dr. Garth Miller who was an excellent example and Dr. Don Otterby who taught us that nice guys do finish first."
After sharing an experience that happened after a meeting with legislators in Washington, D.C, Pierson told students, "Take the job and task at hand seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously."
Gopher Dairy Club President Elizabeth Olson said the Piersons often host the U of M dairy judging team for practice sessions and always have the cattle looking great for the visiting students.
Club members were honored for their achievements, both locally and nationally.
Individual awards were presented to the top freshman, sophomore, and senior.
Rachel Achen of Ambia, Ind., received the Douglas Siem Memorial Award, a $2,000 scholarship, as the outstanding freshman. Richard and Sharon Siem presented the award in memory of their son, Douglas, a past member of the Golden Gopher Club.
Stephanie Kasper of Owatonna, Minn., was named Outstanding Rookie (sophomore) and Elizabeth Olson of Hutchinson the Outstanding Senior.
The four senior members of the university's dairy judging team-Emily Achen of Ambia, Ind., Karen Anderson of Lester Prairie, Minn., Caitlin Durow of Mazeppa, Minn., and Elizabeth Olson of Hutchinson, Minn.- received plaques sponsored by Midwest Dairy Association. They also received "M" pins, presented by Dr. Mike White, Head of the Department of Animal Science at the university.
Olson and Anderson are also this year's nominees for the National Dairy Shrine Student Recognition Program and received plaques sponsored by Genex/CRI.
Dr. Marcia Endres presented the Dairy Management Challenge Team and explained that the program is different than any other, as students go to a real dairy farm as consultants and help improve operations in all aspects. Over 180 companies support that program which has regional and national contests. Awards, sponsored by MN Select Sires, were presented to Jason Kaare of Waconia, Minn., Amanda Meagher of Readfield, Wis., Isaac Salfer of Dassel, Minn., and Laura Weisz of Hillman, Minn.
New Student Scholarship Awards, $1,500 each, were presented to Matt Frenchick of Paynesville, Minn., Rebecca Groos of Howard Lake, Minn., Maggie Jennissen of Brooten, Minn., Andrew Miron of Hugo, Minn., Kelsey Mussman of Claremont, Minn., Andrew Plumski of Little Falls, Minn., Nick Reps of Utica, Minn., Michael Schmitt of Rice, Minn., Chris Seifert of Sleepy Eye, Minn., Eric Seifert of Browerville, Minn., and Robert Sexton of Millville, Minn.
Eight juniors and seniors received Animal Science Scholarships. They are Jacob Achen of Ambia, Ind., Darin Davis of Cokato, Minn., Caitlin Durow of Mazeppa, Minn., David Hanson of Goodridge, Minn., Jason Kaare of Waconia, Minn., Emily Krekelberg of Le Sueur, Minn., Isaac Salfer of Dassel, Minn., and Ashley Swenson of Nicollet, Minn.[[In-content Ad]]
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