James and Robert Baerwolf BS’93, Agricultural Education; BS’96, Dairy Science
Third-generation dairy farmers James and Robert Baerwolf have made a splash with Sassy Cow Creamery, one of Wisconsin’s most hailed farm-to-market milk operations. Using milk from the Baerwolfs’ 400-cow traditional herd and 100-cow organic herd, Sassy Cow is one of the first farmstead dairies in the state to offer both traditional and organic milk, which are sold directly to consumers through local markets and an on-site retail store.
Ed Brooks BS’65, Agricultural Economics
After 18 years as chairman of the board of Foremost Farms and its predecessor, Wisconsin Dairies Cooperative, Brooks took his career in a new direction last year. In November he won a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly and now represents the 50th district, encompassing his hometown of Reedsburg. But Brooks is no stranger to building legislative alliances. As chairman of the board of the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives, he worked to pass a new state statute for cooperatives and played a significant role in forming the Farmers’ Health Cooperative of Wisconsin. Last year the WFC gave Brooks its highest honor, recognizing his lifetime achievements building and supporting dairy cooperatives.
Dan Considine BS’68, Food Science
Wisconsin has more dairy goats than any other state, and Considine is a big reason why. At Sunshine Farms, near Portage, Wis., he has bred numerous national-champion goats, winning the American Dairy Goat Association’s title of premier breeder 14 times. With more than four decades of goat breeding under his belt, he’s now one of the most recognized leaders in the industry and has traveled the world to promote goats as dairy animals. He’s served multiple terms as president of the ADGA and is on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Dairy Goat Association.
Wendy Fulwider MS’04, Dairy Science
Fulwider’s love for animals stems from her childhood experiences growing up on her family’s dairy farm near Fond du Lac, Wis. But it was her graduate research on cow comfort at the Arlington Research Station that sparked her interest in animal behavior and welfare. She went on to Colorado State University to study with animal scientist Temple Grandin, a noted advocate of humane treatment of livestock animals. After earning her Ph.D. in 2007, Fulwider took a job with Organic Valley, the nation’s largest organic-farmer cooperative, as an animal husbandry specialist. She now works with producers to evaluate their handling and housing practices and improve animal well-being.
Peter Giacomini BS’79, Dairy Science, Agricultural Economics
As chief operating officer of AgSource Cooperative Services, Giacomini has helped thousands of farmers harness the power of science. He helped build the firm from a small Wisconsin-based cooperative into one of the nation’s largest dairy herd improvement firms, which also provides feed, environmental and agronomic testing for farmers across the country. In 2006, Giacomini and AgSource worked with the UW School of Veterinary Medicine to develop the Transition Cow Index, an innovative tool for monitoring cow health and performance. He has also maintained strong ties with his alma mater, both professionally and personally, and currently serves as chair of the CALS Board of Visitors.
Tim Griswold BS’89, Agricultural Journalism
Griswold has been a key architect behind many facets of the dairy industry during the past 20 years. Dairy insiders know him as the man who led Wisconsin’s 2020 Initiative, a state loan and grant program designed to encourage dairy producers and processors to modernize and expand. After leaving state government in 2004, Griswold joined Monsanto’s dairy business unit, where he now oversees sales of Posilac, one of the most commonly used supplements for increasing milk production in dairy cows. Griswold is also on the board of the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association, an industry coalition that is active in promoting dairy growth in the state.
Bob Holterman BS’82, Dairy Science
In 15 years as vice president of marketing for Accelerated Genetics, Holterman became one of the key figures in the worldwide export of dairy genetics. He recently launched a new venture, RJH Group, which will focus on developing new markets for companies seeking to expand overseas. The company is also exporting specialty feed products for beef and dairy cows and offering consulting services on nutrition, reproduction and genetic improvement. While it’s always a risk to strike out on one’s own, Holterman has had success following this route before. He funded his CALS education by starting his own business as a professional hoof trimmer in high school.
Lloyd and Daphne Holterman BS’80, Dairy Science; BS’81, Agricultural Journalism
Back in 1980, Lloyd Holterman was milking 70 cows with his parents on their family dairy farm. Now he has more than 800 in his herd at Rosy-Lane Holsteins, which he operates with his wife, Daphne, and partner Tim Strobel FISC’99, on 1,200 acres near Watertown, Wis. The Holtermans have grown the business by thinking vertically. They raise their own heifers and operate a trucking subsidiary to ship their milk. And it’s a lot of milk, too-more than 8,000 gallons a day. The couple also has been active in international dairy development, hosting a stream of international visitors on their farm. Daphne organized an international forum for women in dairying as part of last year’s World Dairy Expo.
Pete Kappelman BS’85, Dairy Science
Kappelman’s blend of small-farm roots and business savvy makes him a force in both the barn and the boardroom. Eighteen years after being named the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s young farmer of the year, he co-owns Meadow Brook Dairy Farm in Manitowoc, Wis., and chairs the board of directors of the powerful Land O’Lakes cooperative, where he has served on the board since 1995. He also sits on two national dairy councils-the National Milk Producers Federation and the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board-and has a significant role shaping U.S. dairy export policy. He’s been president of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin and chairman of UW’s Center for Dairy Profitability-and when he’s not busy with those things, he finds time to coach his kids’ basketball teams back in Manitowoc.
Pete Knigge BS’69, Dairy Science
In 2000, Pete Knigge and his brother, Charles, dove headlong into the dairy modernization movement by becoming Wisconsin’s first dairy farm to use robotic milking equipment. Now, the Knigges’ 105 cows basically milk themselves, ambling up to the automated machinery whenever they feel full. Knigge says the equipment does the work of two full-time employees, saving labor costs and freeing up his time to focus on other aspects of running the Omro farm.
Jill Makovec BS’00, Dairy Science, Agricultural Journalism; MS’02, Dairy Science
Raised on a dairy farm in Muscoda, Wis., Makovec fulfilled a dream of many young dairywomen by becoming Wisconsin’s 60th Alice in Dairyland in 2007. She spent a year as the state’s most visible dairy ambassador, traveling more than 40,000 miles to promote Wisconsin’s food, fuel and fiber industries. Makovec, who has also worked with Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair committee and the Association of Women in Agriculture, ended her Odysseyan public-relations stint last May, but she remains tuned in to rural life as an account executive with Learfield Communications, representing the Wisconsin Radio and Brownfield Ag networks.
Ron Paris BS’77, Dairy Science
When Ron Paris began turning milk from his neighbor’s farm into cream-line yogurt, he figured he might sell a few gallons to locals in cheese-crazy Green County. But Sugar River Dairy, which he runs with his wife, Chris, an alum of the UW-Madison dance program, has earned fans throughout Wisconsin. The Parises now churn out 4,000 pounds of yogurt a week in their Albany, Wis., dairy, and they are mainstays at Madison and Milwaukee farmers’ markets. Ron also has worked with a local distributor to bring artisan dairy products like his own to customers’ doors.