December 13, 2021 at 8:41 p.m.

North Dakota dairyman receives prestigious award

Holle honored for years of dairy promotion efforts
Alex Peterson (left), chairman of the National Dairy Board, presents the prestigious Richard E. Lyng Award to North Dakota dairyman Kenton Holle in Las Vegas, Nevada. Holle received the award in recognition of his many years of dairy promotion efforts. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAIRY MANAGEMENT INC
Alex Peterson (left), chairman of the National Dairy Board, presents the prestigious Richard E. Lyng Award to North Dakota dairyman Kenton Holle in Las Vegas, Nevada. Holle received the award in recognition of his many years of dairy promotion efforts. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAIRY MANAGEMENT INC

By Jerry [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

MANDAN, N.D. – Dairyman Kenton Holle has been named the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Richard E. Lyng Award.
The award, which recognized Holle for his many years of dairy promotion efforts, was given to him at the joint annual meeting of the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB), National Milk Producers Federation and the United Dairy Industry Association held in mid-November in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“This award celebrates farmers who have shown a long-standing commitment and dedication to dairy promotion,” said Alex Peterson, Missouri dairy farmer and chair of the NDB. “Kenton exemplifies this leadership with a more-than-15-year commitment to advancing farmer priorities nationally, regionally and locally.”
Holle served as chair of the NDB in 2013-2014. As chair, he oversaw the evolution of the national program from generic image advertising to helping grow sales and trust in dairy by working with and through the industry.
“Kenton did a masterful job in sharing with other farmers why the transition to partnership was so valuable to the checkoff,” Peterson said. 
The award is named for former U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Richard E. Lyng, who played a critical role in implementing policies that led to the establishment of NDB more than 35 years ago. The Richard E. Lyng Award honors leaders who have made a significant contribution to dairy promotion that benefits the entire industry.
Holle and his wife, Bobby Jo, are third-generation dairy farmers. The Holles have three sons, Andrew, Michael and James.
Andrew and his wife, Jennifer, have four children, Dawson, Isabell, Drew and Devin. Andrew and Jennifer are partners in the Holle family dairy operation. Northern Lights Dairy is home to 800 Holstein cows milked in a rotary parlor. Andrew and Jennifer are expanding the dairy facilities by adding a new freestall barn to house pre-fresh and post-fresh animals.
Michael and his wife, Amber, have three daughters, Ella, Emma and Evelyn. Michael operates a custom silage chopping business that serves cattle feeders and dairy producers in North Dakota and Montana. 
James and his wife, Wendy, have two daughters, Charlotte and Maggie. James and Wendy live in Hutchinson, Minnesota, where James works as a service technician for Leedstone Inc.
“I think it’s wonderful that all three of our sons have stayed involved with the dairy industry,” Holle said. “They could have done anything they wanted, but they decided to remain connected to their roots in agriculture.”
The Holle family has a deep tradition of dairy promotion and working with others toward a common goal.
“I grew up in a family where my parents were very conscious of the world,” Holle said. “Dad was proud of being a farmer. He taught me the pride and the responsibility of being a dairy farmer and the importance of being responsible to the land and to the animals.”
Holle’s father was forward thinking. He built a freestall barn and herringbone milking parlor facility in 1964. He began to sell milk to the Land O’Lakes cooperative in the late 1960s.
“Dad was born in 1917, so he remembered the Great Depression,” Holle said. “He saw what cooperatives and other farm organizations can do for farmers. He often told me that the work that we do off the farm is just as important as the work that we do on the farm. We can’t just take for granted that things will be okay.”
Holle took his father’s lessons to heart. He spent several years as a Land O’Lakes district board member. In 2005, Holle took a position on the board of the North Dakota division of Midwest Dairy. In 2008, he was nominated to serve on the National Dairy Board.
“I was overwhelmed by all the activity I witnessed at the National Dairy Board,” Holle said. “I learned a lot when I served on the board. I was fascinated by the quality of the staff that’s working for us dairy farmers. It speaks to the leadership at the local and national level. The dairy checkoff is the gold standard of farm checkoff programs.”
Holle was also impressed by the efforts put forth by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
“The Dairy Innovation Center brings all facets of the industry together to work for dairy farmers,” Holle said. “Without their vision, we would have a disparate set of standards for each retailer or restaurant chain. The Innovation Center is helping our dairy farmers tell their story.”
Holle was surprised to learn he was being honored with the Richard E. Lyng Award.
“My friend, Allen Merrill, called and gave me the news,” Holle said.
Merrill is chairman of Midwest Dairy.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Holle said. “It was really unexpected and brought me a great deal of joy. I have served on boards with some of the previous recipients. It’s nice to belong to a fellowship of people who make every last drop count.”
In addition to serving on dairy promotion boards, Holle and his family have actively promoted dairy in their local community for many years.
“We began to host tours of our dairy farm in 2005,” Holle said. “One of the most successful events has been breakfast on the farm, which is traditionally held in June. Several thousand people would come out to our farm for the event. Local businesses also got involved, including our Domino’s Pizza restaurant. The event included booths that showcased the works of North Dakota artisans and our local volunteer fire department brought along an interactive display for kids. There would also be a climbing wall and inflatables for kids to enjoy. Breakfast on the farm is a fun day for the entire family.”
Receiving the Richard E. Lyng Award will enable Holle to pay it forward.
“The NDB will contribute $2,500 in my name to North Dakota State University’s College of Human Sciences and Education,” Holle said. “We hope that the scholarship goes to somebody who has a dairy background. … I have always been a strong supporter of FFA and higher education, so this scholarship is a feather in the cap. There are tremendous opportunities in agriculture for our young people,” he said.


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