September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
This past March, Myron Czech was selected as chairman of the board of directors for Select Sires, Inc., which has its national office in Plain City, Ohio. He is joined by 17 other board members who hail from across the United States.
Czech and his wife, Deb, milk 550 cows and raise 1,200 acres of crops on their farm, Pike Hills Dairy, in Morrison County near Little Falls, Minn. In addition, they are half owners of New Heights Dairy near Rice, Minn., along with their son, Brent, and his wife, Callie, where they milk 1,300 cows and raise 850 acres of crops.
Czech has had an ever growing interest in dairy genetics since the tender age of 6 - an interest triggered when he stumbled upon a bull stud book left over from his father's attempts at AI in the 1950s. Heading up the board of directors for a leading dairy genetics co-op on a national level was not something Czech saw in his future when he took over his family's farm upon graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1980.
"I was just interested in getting semen from high quality bulls at that time," Czech said. "But Select Sires interested me so much that I couldn't resist."
Czech has been actively involved with Select Sires since the late 1980s, starting out first as a customer. Until 1986, Select Sires semen was hard to come by in Minnesota, as the state wasn't part of the cooperative's territory. That year, a group of Minnesota dairy farmers organized the Minnesota Select Sires cooperative. Czech was not part of this group, but his interest in getting semen from high quality Holstein bulls led him to attend the co-op's first official meeting the following year. It was then that Czech was nominated to serve as a delegate on the district board.
"It was a foot in the door," Czech said of serving as a district delegate.
Since then, Czech has slowly moved up the ranks of the Select Sires cooperative board. In 1988, he was elected to serve as director for the Minnesota Select Sires board. Ten years later, Czech became one of two people from Minnesota chosen to serve on the national board of directors where he has served ever since. His roles on the national board have included president, second vice-chairman from 2007-2010, and first vice-chairman from 2010 to this past March, when he was elected board chairman. With this position, Czech also serves as a board member for World Wide Sires, which is owned jointly by Select Sires and Accelerated Genetics. He attended his first board meeting for World Wide Sires in Reno during March.
"I got my first taste of the international industry," Czech said. "It was so intriguing."
While the international arena offered a whole new perspective for Czech, the world of dairy genetics has been constantly evolving over the last several decades.
"One of the most exciting things was when we started marketing sexed semen for the first time," Czech said. "It was a technology we weren't sure could ever be attained, and it happened when I was on the board. I was one of the people who actually watched it happen."
Another significant technology introduced to the dairy industry has been genomic testing.
"It's not the total answer, but it is a stepping stone," Czech said. "I think we have a tool now that will give us a better product than we've had in the past."
Czech has been instrumental in encouraging the development of other products offered by Select Sires; from heat detection monitors to different mating programs to aid in sire selection.
New and improved products are not the only changes in Czech's time with Select Sires. He's watched the entire focus of the AI service component slowly shift.
"Making a pregnancy with the semen and getting the best possible end result has become the main goal of the co-op," he said.
Czech doesn't plan to change that focus during the three, one-year terms he will serve as board chairman. He also intends to foster the cooperative spirit he has come to truly appreciate.
"When I was elected to serve as a delegate on the board, there was a tremendous cooperative spirit," he said. "A successful co-op listens to the needs of its customers. It keeps its ear to the ground and promotes the products that the customers need."
And that is exactly what Czech hopes to accomplish over the next three years.
"My goal is to make sure Select Sires stays on the cutting edge," he said. "It's not just to provide the products and services needed today, but to do the best job we can in looking into what the future needs will be, so we have those products ready for the customer-owners when they need them."
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