Heisner named Dairy Shrine Guest of Honor

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National Dairy Shrine (NDS) is pleased to announce the winners of the Guest of Honor, Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder, Pioneer, Progressive Dairy Manager and Graduate Dairy Production awards for this year. These awards were designed to honor past, present and future dairy industry leaders that have contributed to strengthening and energizing the dairy industry.

Bernie Heisner named 2014 Guest of HonorNational Dairy Shrine Bernard Heisner is the Guest of Honor, the highest award from the National Dairy Shrine. This award goes to an individual that has had a dramatic impact on the dairy industry and its future. Bernard “Bernie” Heisner, the General Manager of COBA/Select Sires has had a preeminent role in dairy industry not only for his company but for many allied industry organizations. During his over 20 year association with COBA, the company has grown to over 24 million dollars in sales and 130+ full time employees. COBA offices have also been utilized by the American Guernsey Association, Ayrshire Breeders Association, DHI Cooperative, Inc., Purebred Publishing and National Dairy Shrine as headquarters over the years. Bernie has served the industry in many roles and shared his communication and writing skills with numerous dairy groups. Mr. Heisner has previously received recognition from the Ohio State Fair, Ohio 4-H Leadership Award, Ohio PDCA, The Ohio State University Dairy Service Award, Red & White Dairy Cattle Association and the National Dairy Shrine 4-E Award. Bernie Heisner has truly shaped the future of the dairy industry with his great passion for dairy people and cows.  

The NDS Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder is the Paul Chittenden Family from Schodack Landing, New York. The Chittenden Jersey herd carries the Dutch Hollow prefix and is known worldwide for producing high quality genetics and cattle with the popular polled gene. Paul Chittenden has served on the national AJCA board (4 Years as President) and numerous committees. The Dutch Hollow herd has been innovative in the marketing of its’ milk through various sources and has also created the Dutch Hollow Education Center for hands on learning experiences for pre-school and elementary school groups. Paul & Melanie’s children Brian, Alan and Nathan and their families are all heavily involved in the next generation of Dutch Hollow Farm and national and state Jersey activities.

Through an anonymous selection committee, Alton Block, David Gibson, Charles Knigge, Marlowe Nelson and Russell Wirt have been selected as National Dairy Shrine Pioneers. This year’s honorees are an exemplary display of what this award is about. Alton Block, Middleton, Wisconsin was a well respected A.I. industry leader who served as the General Manager of East Central Breeders Co-op and Tri-State Breeders Co-op. In his later years he was a successful business and management consultant. David Gibson, Brandon, Vermont  served as the Executive Secretary of the Ayrshire Breeders Association for over 18 years. Many technical office upgrades, and breed improvement programs were started under his leadership. Mr. Gibson also served as Secretary for the World Ayrshire Breed Society. Charles “Pete” Knigge, Omro, Wisconsin is a dairy producer and innovator. His dairy made the historical and potentially risky decision to be the first herd in the United States to milk cows with robots. The Knigge dairy was one of the few dairies in the world to use at that time the untested technologies of robotic milking with freestall housing and TMR feeding. .Mr. Knigge has also served a leadership role in numerous state and local dairy & civic organizations.  Marlowe Nelson, Viroqua, Wisconsin has been an innovator in breeding and the international dairy industry. After developing personal relationships with dairy farmers in Japan while stationed there in WW II, Marlowe developed in 1953 a dairy training program for Japanese students on Wisconsin dairy farms. This highly successful initiative led to other similar programs with German and Dutch trainees. For his outstanding contributions Marlowe was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette by the Emperor of Japan.  Marlowe also spent many years in the A.I. industry in sire procurement for U.S. and International companies, buying some of the top sires in the world. Mr. Nelson then started his own breeding company International Protein Sires in 1990. Russell Wirt from Lewiston, Minnesota is the final 2014 Pioneer award winner. Mr. Wirt has a distinguished career as a breeder and dairy industry leader. Russell served as President of the American Guernsey Association for 5 years from 1979-1984. He helped form the Minnesota DHIA and the Minnesota American Dairy Association.  Mr. Wirt was also president of the Minnesota Livestock Breeder’s Association. The family farm is now be operated by his children and the 500 cows average over 30,000 pounds of milk. Russell has been previously honored by the American Guernsey Association with its’ Distinguished Service Award and by World Dairy Expo with its’ Person of the Year award.

The NDS Progressive Dairy Producers selected for this year are Amanda Stiles Lutz in the small herd division and Peter Dueppengeiser in the large herd division. This award is a $2000 travel stipend to attend an out of state conference or seminar to learn new techniques to improve their dairy business. Amanda Stiles Lutz has an excellent herd of Jerseys in Chester, South Carolina.  Amanda and her husband Herby are very involved in the dairy community. Both have had leadership positions in national, state and county breed associations. In addition Amanda has been very active in dairy promotion groups and the South Carolina Young Farmers Association. The herd is especially proud of its’ high production with very low cell counts. Peter Dueppengeiser operates Dueppengeiser Dairy Company LLC in Perry, New York. Peter and his brother Michael manage a Holstein dairy that milks 1200 cows. Mr. Dueppengeiser has been very active in the Northeast Dairy Producers Association, the NY Farm Bureau, Wyoming Chamber of Commerce, Straightlers 4-H Club, and Cornell University. This herd has participated with Cornell staff on numerous research projects and Peter is an advisor to the Pro-Dairy program. The Dueppengeiser family takes great pride in being named a Dairy of Distinction for 22 years.

Luke Huysman of DeRuyter, New York has been selected as the Graduate Dairy Production award winner. This award goes to an active dairyman who has graduated from college in the last nine years and has already demonstrated excellent dairy management ability and financial stability. Luke, a non farm boy, became enthralled with the dairy industry by working on local dairies in the summer and soon decided on a dairy future. While still attending high school he enrolled at SUNY Morrisville in the dairy program. Then he enrolled at Cornell University and graduated in 2006. During his college years he found time around classes to work 40-45 hours a week at local dairies. After graduation, he went to work as a dairy farm manager at Hermdale Farms in Seneca Castle, New York and started acquiring his own herd. In 2008 with the help Chip Engst of Barbland Farm and friend Bret Bossard they formed Barbland Dairy LLC a 500+ dairy in Fabius, New York. In 2010 they further expanded their dairy operations. Mr. Huysman will receive a $2500 award sponsored by Elanco to be used toward the purchase of cattle to improve his herd.

The annual National Dairy Shrine awards banquet will be held on Thursday October 2 in Madison, Wisconsin during World Dairy Expo. For more information about the banquet or about students, producers and industry representatives being recognized by National Dairy Shrine, please contact Dr. David Selner, Executive Director, at info@dairyshrine.org. Information on the National Dairy Shrine mission or membership is also available online at www.dairyshrine.org. Dairy enthusiasts are encouraged to become a part of the most important organization honoring our dairy heritage, inspiring future leaders and promoting the dairy industry.


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