World Dairy Expo (WDE) would like to congratulate the 2015 WDE Recognition Award Winners. Every year, these prestigious awards are handed out to four outstanding members of the dairy industry. This year is no exception. The 2015 award recipients are leaders, mentors, innovators and dairy industry advocates. Their accomplishments inspire the next generation of dairy leaders to strive for greatness. Without a doubt, the dairy industry wouldn’t be the same without these four exceptional members.
Rosalie Geiger, Ran-Rose Dairy Farm in Reedsville, Wis., was selected as this year’s Dairy Woman of the Year, and Hank Van Exel, Exels Holsteins & Jerseys in Lodi, Calif., was selected to receive the Dairyman of the Year award. The International Person of the Year recognition was awarded to Kevin Lang, Grace Valley Ayrshires & Holsteins, Fairfield Dairy in Howick, South Africa, and Jim Dickrell, Editor, Associate Publisher Dairy Today, from Monticello, Minn., was selected as the Industry Person of the Year.
These four award recipients will be honored for their outstanding contributions to the dairy industry at the 2015 Dinner with the Stars recognition banquet that will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center, Madison, Wis. Tickets for the event are $30, and reservations are required.
Dairy Woman of the Year
Rosalie “Rosie” M. Geiger Ran-Rose Dairy Farm Reedsville, Wis.
Rosalie Geiger has been instrumental in shaping the dairy industry through her leadership and passion for the dairy cow. She has worked tirelessly to help promote Wisconsin’s dairy industry through her involvement in the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Since 1994, she has served on 10 different committees and was elected as the board of director’s chair in 2004, the first time a woman has held this position. A leader in agriculture advocacy, Geiger was chosen to serve on the National Dairy Board, speaking frequently on national and state dairy matters. Always looking to improve her skills, Geiger graduated from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation Institute, spending a week in Washington D.C., speaking about issues affecting the dairy industry in rural communities. She now serves on the Wisconsin Farm Bureau board of directors. Geiger is active locally on the Manitowoc and Calumet County Dairy Promotion Committees, giving classroom presentations and volunteering with the annual career day. She and her husband, Randy, also host tours for the Lakeshore Technical College dairy program and the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Youth Leadership Derby on their family farm, Ran-Rose Dairy. Focusing on production and longevity, the Ran-Rose herd has 15 homebred cows with over 200,000 lbs. lifetime milk production and three with over 300,000 lbs. They bred one of the world’s only cow families with 1 million pounds of lifetime milk in four consecutive generations. They have maintained a high milk quality status, receiving the Manitowoc County Dairy Herd Improvement Association Udder Health Award for 19 straight years and the National Mastitis Council National Dairy Quality Award.
Dairyman of the Year
Hank Van Exel Exels Holsteins and Jerseys, Lodi, Cal.
With a keen eye for cattle and dedication to the improvement of the dairy cow, Hank Van Exel is a leader in the dairy industry around the world. The Van Excel family farm, Exels Holsteins and Jerseys, consists of 2,150 cows and 2,200 acres of cropland. Van Exel focuses on breeding for production, type and longevity. This philosophy has paid off, impacting herds across the world through semen, embryo and cattle sales. When not on the farm, Van Exel spends a lot of time in the center of the showring, serving as judge for shows around the world, including judging the International Holstein and Jersey Shows at World Dairy Expo. Van Exel is a leader in promoting the dairy industry, serving on many boards and committees. He has been very active with Holstein Association USA, serving on the National Holstein Board Executive Committee and as chairman of the Show and Milk Marketing committees. Van Exel has received many accolades over the years for his work, including the California Holstein Association A.J. Quist Memorial Breeder Award, California Senior Breeder Award, Al Hayes Award and the California Jersey Cattle Association Senior Breeder Award. Hank and his wife, Carolyn, have three children and eight grandchildren: Adam, his wife, Lacey, and daughters, Madison and Atlee; Sarah, her husband, Jarett, and children, Jackson, Reagan and Rhett; and Jennifer, her husband, Brian, and children, Stella and Bryce.
Industry Person of the Year
Jim Dickrell, Editor/Associate Publisher, Dairy Today
As one of the agriculture industry’s leading journalists, Jim Dickrell’s voice is heard and respected around the world. With more than 35 years of dairy publication experience, Dickrell works tirelessly to provide insightful and thought-provoking coverage of the dairy industry. He has served as editor of Dairy Today since 1989 and was named associate publisher in 2007. His award-winning “Dairy Talk” column has been featured in the magazine for more than 25 years. He contributes to Dairy Today’s eUpdate, a bi-weekly e-newsletter, writes content for dairytoday.com and appears weekly on "AgriTalk" radio. Dickrell oversees the annual publication of the World Dairy Expo Official Program and Dairy Today’s Expo Special Edition daily e-newsletter. Because of his extensive knowledge, Dickrell has been a guest speaker at the International Dairy Foods Association Dairy Forum, Midwest Dairy Expo, the Central Plains Dairy Conference and more. He has served in many roles with the National Mastitis Council (NMC) and was elected president in 1999. Dickrell has been an active participant in the Minnesota Dairy Leaders Roundtable and is a past president of the American Agriculture Editors Association. He was also recently elected to the National Dairy Shrine board of directors. Dickrell received the Mid-American Dairymen’s Salute Award for excellence in agriculture communication, Farm Journal’s Wilmer Atkinson Award and the NMC Outstanding Service Award. Jim and his wife, Mary Micke, reside in Monticello, Minn. Their daughter, Stephanie, is a journalist for the St. Cloud Times newspaper.
International Person of the Year
Kevin D. Lang, Grace Valley Ayrshires & Holsteins, Fairfield Dairy
Kevin Lang has been the driving force behind the expansion of the Ayrshire breed in South Africa, one of the fastest growing Ayrshire populations in the world. Though his roots weren’t in the dairy industry, Lang seized the opportunity to start his own dairy farm when Woolworths, a local grocery chain, launched an exclusive line of Ayrshire products in 1990. Demand quickly grew, and Lang expanded his business by processing milk from other local Ayrshire producers. He also purchased a 1,500-head Holstein herd to create his own private label processing business. Fairfield Dairy now processes 313,600 lbs. of milk per day into 15 different products. Lang was an early innovator in South African genetics, developing one of the highest typed Ayrshire herds in the world. Sourcing genetics worldwide, he breeds for showring type that is consistent with his production goals. In the showring, he has exhibited 21 Champion cows and received the South African National Show Gold Cup Trophy four times, an honor no other South African breeder has achieved. Lang has worked diligently to improve the South African dairy industry, founding the Sengai Trust, which works to create strategic alliances between the government and farmers to benefit farm workers through skill transfer and land reform. He has been active with the South African Ayrshire Society and served as president of the World Ayrshire Federation. Kevin and his wife, Shannon, and their three adult children, Rachel, Caiden and Bethany, reside in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal.