6 Honored At Farmers Union Convention

Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) honored several individuals for their dedication to family farmers at the Wisconsin Farmers Union State Convention.

Friend of the Family Farmer

WFU recognized two Friends of the Family Farmer, Inga Witscher and Jessica Ryba. The award recognizes those who have gone above and beyond in efforts on behalf of family farmers and rural communities.

Inga Witscher is a fourth-generation dairy farmer milking cows and making cheese on her small farm in Osseo, WI. Witscher grew up on her family’s grass-based dairy in Washington State. She then relocated to the East Coast where she learned how to make cheese. In 2006 she began her farming career at St. Isidore’s Dairy in Osseo where she now milks a small herd of registered jerseys and produces a small batch, raw milk cheddar. Witscher co-created a television series highlighting Wisconsin family farms called “Around the Farm Table.” The series is in its 10th season on PBS.

Jessica Ryba, a former Administrative Assistant for the Wisconsin Farmers Union, passionately
advocated for family farmers due to her familial connection to farming. Despite health challenges leading
to her departure from WFU, she redirected her passion by founding the successful Cadott Farmers
Market. Her impactful efforts included advocating for the market at the town board, securing EBT card
access, writing grants, and generating local excitement on social media. She currently resides in Cadott
with her two children.

Builders Awards

WFU recognized Dave Mickelson and Phil O’Leary for the Builder’s Award, which recognizes commitment to building Farmers Union through county involvement, leadership development and member recruitment.

Dave Mickelson brings 33 years of agricultural research experience and holds a B.S. in Agronomy and Agricultural Economics. Actively engaged in organizations such as the Columbia County Chapter of Wisconsin Farmers Union, he remains connected to his family farm near DeForest, WI. Mickelson is a dedicated WFU committee member, a participant in lobby day, and a valuable ambassador in the agricultural community.

Phil O’Leary currently operates his family farm in Rock County, WI, and is an emeritus University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering professor. With a Ph.D. in Land Resources, he has led rural political messaging workshops and joined Wisconsin Farmers Union in 2018 with his wife Carol, appreciating the WFU’s advocacy strategies and alignment with members’ values.

Emerging Leader

This is the fourth year that WFU presented a special Emerging Leader award to an individual who has
ignited energy and engagement in WFU. This year’s Emerging Leader is Dylan Bruce.

Raised on an organic vegetable CSA farm in Crawford County, WI, Bruce pursued a journey through the food system from Chicago to Los Angeles. After earning his undergraduate degree at Occidental College, he returned to Wisconsin, earned an MS in Agroecology at UW Madison, and founded Circadian Organics with his spouse, Dr. Skye Bruce. Currently, they manage four acres of vegetable and flower
seeds and recently launched Driftless Seed Supply, a retail seed brand in collaboration with regional producers. Bruce has served as the Vernon-Crawford County President for two years and actively contributes to WFU committees, state, and local conventions, with a lifelong commitment to his family’s farm and fostering rural resiliency with WFU members.

Bruce Miller Award

WFU also announced that Danielle Endvick was chosen to receive the 2024 Bruce Miller Award. The award is named in honor of the late Bruce Miller, who was an active member and served on the staff of Minnesota Farmers Union. It recognizes individuals within the Farmers Union family who display a true passion for family farming and rural America, while promoting the work of Farmers Union.

Danielle Endvick has spent the past 15 years lifting up the stories of rural Wisconsin, first as an award-winning journalist with The Country Today newspaper, then from 2014-2023 as the Communications Director for Wisconsin Farmers Union, and more recently in a new role as Director of Development. She raises beef cattle and a pair of rambunctious boys alongside her husband Jesse on their Runamuck Ranch in Holcombe.