Two River Falls Seniors Recognized

Two River Falls Seniors Recognized
The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls presented two outstanding senior awards at their 38th Annual Senior Supper on April 21.

The annual event, sponsored by the CAFES Alumni Association, celebrates the accomplishments of the graduating seniors and welcomes them into the alumni family. The event was held in-person in the large machine shed at UWRF’s Mann Valley Farm to allow for physically distant seating and a safer, nearly outdoor environment.

Abigail Solum, a food science and technology major from Rice Lake, received the Rochelle Junkman Seymour Award for 2020-21. The award recognizes the graduating senior with the highest GPA in the college.

Abigail Solum

Solum was described by faculty as an excellent student who really wanted to learn all she could. Her academic adviser said she was great to have in class, definitely a high achiever, but always willing to help other students and she gained their respect for that. Another faculty member said Solum would absorb information in class and when she spoke, it was worth listening to her. She added that Solum was very good at connecting her experience and knowledge to new and different situations.

Brooke Brantner, an animal science major from Menomonie, was presented the Dr. Earl Hildebrand Memorial Award which honors a graduating senior who best exemplifies a combination of scholastic achievement, extracurricular involvement and leaderships roles in CAFES. Students are nominated by faculty and the recipient is selected by the CAFES Scholarship Committee.

Six faculty from two departments nominated Brantner. They described her as an AgVocate with a real passion for agriculture that extended beyond her engagement in various clubs on campus to efforts across the state. Brantner took the passion she developed early on through 4-H, FFA and her own family beef operation, and, over the past five years, led 30 beef fitting clinics for youth, judged numerous FFA contests and served as the beef superintendent for the Dunn County Fair. In addition, she was involved with a number of community philanthropic events including the Special Olympics and the Polar Plunge.

Brooke Brantner

Brantner is an accomplished competitor having received the Top Individual Award at the International Dairy Judging Contest in Scotland in 2016. She freely shared what she learned through that experience by joining the Dairy Judging Team at UWRF and taking on the role as coach for the Dunn County dairy judging youth teams.

The faculty concluded their nomination letter by writing, “Brooke is sincere, compassionate, driven, smart and enthusiastic. She clearly wants to make the world a better place and for those reasons we believe she is an excellent candidate for the 2020-21 CAFES Outstanding Senior.”

This annual event featured the traditional series of speakers. Representing the alumni was Sam Tauchen, ’15, who shared his insights of life after graduation. Agricultural Engineering Professor Joel Peterson represented the faculty and offered advice to the graduates. Coincidentally, the speaker representing the graduating seniors was Brantner.

The students graduating with Laude honors, those who maintained a minimum 3.7 GPA for their entire college career, were also recognized and presented with the red and white cords they are entitled to wear at the commencement ceremony. CAFES Dean Dale Gallenberg also took a few moments to thank the many students who took on leadership roles in the college this past year, particularly those who served as an officer for one of the 20 student organizations in the college.

“I know many of you had great plans for your clubs and were certainly looking forward to some of the traditional activities,” Gallenberg said. “Instead, I know many of you struggled this past year to engage students and to come up with activities that could be done safely, but you were up to the challenge.”

Gallenberg went on to note that club meetings took place at corn mazes and in faculty backyards, and he described some new activities that were created. The Crops and Soils Club brought meals to farmers bringing in their harvest at a local cooperative last fall, and the Collegiate Farm Bureau created a scavenger hunt for Ag Day 2021.

The evening concluded with attendees picking up their catered boxed dinners and gathering with their friends in small groups at various locations on the farm where tables and chairs had been arranged.


Broadband Conversation Continues

Broadband Conversation Continues
Rep. Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer) and Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) circulated legislation to dial-in the Wisconsin Rural Broadband Expansion Grant program to reach more unserved communities and continue expanding critical broadband infrastructure.

“Broadband expansion continues to be one of my top priorities,” Sen. Marklein said. “We have made tremendous progress in Wisconsin and with this progress comes the need to refine the Rural Broadband Expansion grant program and our efforts to continue expanding into the communities that need our support. The changes in this legislation, written with stakeholders, keep the grant program nimble so that we are reaching the truly unserved in Wisconsin.”

“This legislation is a crucial step towards connecting all Wisconsinites with high-speed internet services,” Rep. Summerfield stated. “We need a bold plan to ensure our state remains competitive in the coming decades, and I think this legislation will be another tool in the tool box to accomplishing that goal.”

The Rural Broadband Expansion Grant Program was created in 2013 to encourage broadband expansion into Wisconsin’s unserved and underserved areas. The program has awarded 268 grants totaling more than $72.5 million in investment.

“Over time, the grant program has evolved to meet Wisconsin’s broadband expansion needs. Since its inception, the grant program has been adjusted to direct funding to the areas of greatest need. This bill makes several adjustments to further refine the Rural Broadband Expansion Grant program to continue focusing our efforts to expand broadband into truly unserved communities. We must evolve as we continue to meet our goals and reach new areas of the state,” Marklein said.

This bill refines the Rural Broadband Expansion Grant Program to ensure it is in line with Wisconsin’s changing technological landscape. Highlights of this bill include:

  • Eliminating the “underserved” category to focus on truly unserved communities. It also redefines “unserved” to be broadband delivered at speeds of 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up or less, which better matches reality and the actual expectations of consumers who are learning and working from home.
  • Giving priority to expansion projects that have at least 50% matching funds and setting a 40% match minimum.
  • Giving priority to projects that offer speeds at 900 Mbps or greater.
  • Creating measurable accountability by requiring a final report after project completions to ensure advertised speeds are accurate and the project is reaching subscribers.
  • Requiring the Public Service Commission (PSC) to provide technical support to local project champions and to facilitate relationships and connections with internet service providers.
  • Requiring the PSC to develop and provide educational tools for project champions to design projects and apply for grants.
  • Requiring each internet service provider that receives a grant to disclose their coverage availability data to the PSC by April 1st of each year to improve coverage mapping for future grant distribution.

4-H Foundation Hands Out Checks

4-H Foundation Hands Out Checks
The Wisconsin 4-H Foundation is proud to announce this year’s scholarship recipients. A record number of exemplary applications were submitted for consideration. Scholarships are awarded through company and individual endowed funds by supporters who share a passion for 4-H and the leadership and life skills it teaches.

This year’s scholarship winners are:

Harold and Irene Hendrickson Memorial Scholarship

$2,500 scholarship, two awarded

  • Connor Bruins of Brandon, Fond du Lac County
  • Marin Stauffacher of Columbus, Columbia County 

Oscar G. & Mary W. Woelfel Memorial Scholarship

$1,000 scholarship, five awarded

  • Jesse Groell of Osseo, Eau Claire County
  • Kelsey Henderson of Kenosha, Racine County
  • Lindsay Propst of Beaver Dam, Dodge County
  • Natalie Roe of Monticello, Green County
  • Lauren Thompson of Woodville, Saint Croix County

Frances & Phyllis Conrad Memorial Scholarship

$1,000 scholarship, two awarded

  • Matthew Harle of New Richmond, Saint Croix County
  • Joseph Krahn of Eden, Fond du Lac County 

T.L. Bewick Memorial Scholarship

$1,000 scholarship, five awarded

  • Lindsey Berg of Arcadia, Buffalo County
  • Frances Duffek of Hartford, Washington County
  • Elizabeth Glandt of Bangor, La Crosse County
  • Abby Ruedinger of Larsen, Winnebago County
  • Valorie Schamens of Jefferson, Jefferson County

Culver’s 4-H Scholarship

$1,000 scholarship, two awarded

  • Stephanie Farrey of Whitewater, Rock County
  • Kate Loucks of Weston, Marathon County

Cynthia Hoehne Scholarship Award

$1,000 scholarship, one awarded

  • Madison Thiex of Webster, Burnett County

Elizabeth Salter-Eby Memorial Scholarship

$750 scholarship, one awarded

  • Emma Moore of Balsam Lake, Polk County

Betty Krueger Memorial Scholarship

$500 scholarship, one awarded

  • Brook Putz of Fountain City, Buffalo County

The Wisconsin 4-H Foundation awards more than $19,000 in scholarships annually to outstanding Wisconsin students pursuing higher education. Scholarship recipients are selected based on demonstrated personal growth, development and leadership, academic performance and future educational goals.


Hutchinson Joins Equity Livestock

Hutchinson Joins Equity Livestock
Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association is pleased to announce Brittany Hutchison as office manager at the cooperative’s Johnson Creek market. In this role, Hutchison will oversee all of the office functions. She will also be responsible for receiving and directing phone calls.

Hutchison loves to read, do yoga, and is interested in history and cemeteries. She serves
as treasurer of Oak Hill Cemetery Association in Watertown.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and leadership from Wisconsin Lutheran College and an associate degree in business management from Madison College. She lives in Milkwaukee with her two daughters, Stephne and Anastasia, and will soon be relocating to the Johnson Creek area.


Swinging Clubs For Cheese Makers

Swinging Clubs For Cheese Makers
Registration for the popular Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) Golf Outing and Trap Shoot will open Tuesday, May 18 at 10 a.m. (CT) at WisCheeseMakers.org. Act quickly to reserve space at this summer highlight for all dairy processors and industry suppliers, set for Wednesday, July 21.

“WCMA is thrilled to be able to bring members together for a day of networking and fun,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA Executive Director.  “This event sells out quickly, so mark your calendars for sign-up on May 18 and golf and trapshooting on July 21.”

Nearly 600 golfers will enjoy a scramble tournament on July 21 at one of four courses: Lake Arrowhead’s Lakes and Pines Courses, Bull’s Eye Country Club and the Castle Course at Northern Bay Resort, all in Central Wisconsin near Nekoosa. Each golfer’s registration fee covers their golf cart, greens fees, range balls, cart gifts, skill and winner prizes, as well as lunch, social hour and dinner. Registrants may request their preferred course, though placement is not guaranteed. Names of individual golfers are not needed upon registration; simply indicate a requested number of golfers and make payment.  Note that WCMA will build foursomes for individual golf registrants.

Trap shooters – novices and experts alike – are invited to register for WCMA’s concurrent event at the Wisconsin Trapshooting Association (WTA) Homegrounds, just four miles from Lake Arrowhead. At 12 noon, individual shooting and group challenges will begin. No license is needed, and first-time shooters will get personal instruction offered by WTA volunteers. Each trap shoot registration includes ammunition, instruction, ear and eye protection, cart gift, skill prizes, as well as lunch, social hour and dinner.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own shotgun, if possible, as limited quantities are available for novice participants.

The BMO Harris Bank Lunch will be served to golfers before the shotgun start and at the turn at each course, and trapshooters will have lunch at the Homegrounds, beginning at 11 a.m.

After golf and trapshooting, all attendees will meet at the spacious, all-new Lake Arrowhead clubhouse to enjoy the Amcor Flexibles North America Social Hour and a buffet dinner.  Note that WCMA is also offering a registration option for those who prefer to attend only the social hour and dinner.

Affordable and impactful sponsorship opportunities are available now through June 8 at WisCheeseMakers.org.  This year, WCMA is offering three new options for business promotions at the event: Golf Cart Sponsorship, Tee Box Sponsorship and Driving Range Sponsorship. Email WCMA Events Manager Caitlin Peirick at [email protected] to secure your sponsorship.

Complete event details are available at WisCheeseMakers.org, and general inquiries may be directed to [email protected].


Brr…Cold For Sensitive Plants

Brr…Cold For Sensitive Plants
This was excellent weather for fieldwork, with lots of planting, manure applications and tillage accomplished in the past 7 days, according to the Wisconsin Ag Statistical Service. However, cold and dry soil conditions have slowed crop emergence.

Reporters commented that crop development seemed slow compared to the amount of growing degree days received this year. Farmers were on alert for frost damage to hay stands, fruit trees and cranberries.

Corn is reported 49% planted, 2 days behind last year but 5 days ahead of the 5-year average. Corn emerged was at 5%, two days ahead of both last year and the average.

Soybeans are reported 34% planted, 1 day ahead of last year and 9 days ahead of the average. Some reports were received of soybeans emerging in southern Wisconsin.

Oats are reported 82% planted, 5 days ahead of last year and 12 days ahead of the average. Forty-eight percent of oats are emerged, 5 days ahead of last year and 9 days ahead of the average. Oat condition was rated 70% good to excellent statewide.

Potatoes are 77% planted, 6 days ahead of last year and 8 days ahead of the average.

Winter wheat condition was rated 88% good to excellent statewide, up 2 percentage point from last week.

Spring tillage was reported 84% complete, 4 days ahead of last year and 14 days ahead of the average.

All hay condition was reported 72% in good to excellent condition.Pasture conditions   was   rated   62%   good   to   excellent, 1 percentage point above last week.


Accelerating Apprenticeships

Accelerating Apprenticeships
The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has created five new Apprenticeship Navigator positions to help Wisconsinites find open apprenticeship opportunities.

Apprenticeship is an industry-driven training model that combines on-the-job learning with job-related classroom instruction. As an “earn and learn” model, apprentices are employed and earn wages from their first day on the job. Upon completion of their programs, apprentices earn an average of $80,000. Apprenticeship opportunities are available in the traditional construction, manufacturing, utility, and service sectors, as well as emerging areas like health care, information technology, finance, transportation, biotech, and agriculture.

DWD was awarded a U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Expansion grant in 2019. Using the grant funds, DWD created Apprenticeship Navigators to educate and assist people in every region of the state who are interested in becoming apprentices. It took a little more than a year to create and fill all five positions, with the last two navigators coming on board just a few weeks ago. The team will personally guide those interested in getting into a program through the Wisconsin Apprenticeship System and refer them to opportunities that meet their specific needs and professional goals.

Navigators will largely focus on underrepresented populations who have had historically low apprenticeship participation numbers. They will serve as mentors, providing details of each apprenticeship program and guiding their mentees to an apprenticeship path that fits their interests.

“Apprenticeship is for everyone,” said Joshua Johnson, director of Wisconsin Apprenticeship System. “It’s all about finding the right fit for each individual. Navigators will set individuals up for success by providing them accurate tools and resources.”

Navigators will:

  • Guide people through the various programs to determine which apprenticeship is right for them,
  • Help people develop their apprenticeship portfolio,
  • Educate people on the qualification requirements for apprenticeship programs they are interested in,
  • Connect and network with community members to help market, educate, and promote apprenticeship programs, and
  • Help build a talent pool of apprentices for employers to select from.

Navigators will also assist organizations with the application process to build a certified pre-apprenticeship program.

Four out of the five navigators will work with the general public, while the fifth navigator will be dedicated to working with people who are incarcerated within the Department of Corrections (DOC). The DOC navigator will connect incarcerated men and women to certified pre-apprenticeship opportunities prior to their release. Upon re-entering society, the navigator will support them in finding apprenticeship opportunities in their area.

“I’m really excited to be part of the solution to reduce recidivism and provide legit paths for folks when they leave the institution,” said DOC navigator Milton Rogers. “I feel like Wisconsin, of all places, could be a leader and develop a model that could be adopted nationwide.”

Navigators will be a valuable resource for many people, including those who are looking to change professional industries, veterans, dislocated workers, individuals with disabilities, and individuals who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated.

“After working in the private sector doing Human Resources for 30 years, I always felt that Registered Apprenticeship was the best kept secret to employment,” said Dawn Pratt, a navigator for southeast Wisconsin. “Registered Apprenticeship is an additional post-secondary opportunity that can provide a family sustaining income. This opportunity especially applies to our younger generation that do not want to be burdened with student debt.”

People interested in apprenticeship can now contact their area Apprenticeship Navigator:

Navigator Jessica Gitter ([email protected]; 262-894-5624) will cover the following counties: Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Walworth, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Juneau, Vernon, and Crawford.

Navigator Jessica Williams ([email protected]; 920-404-6877) will cover the following counties: Florence, Marinette, Oconto, Menominee, Shawano, Waupaca, Outagamie, Calumet, Brown, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Door, Marinette, Vilas, Oneida, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Wood, Adams, Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, Rusk, Price, and Taylor.

Navigator Dawn Pratt ([email protected]; 414-216-4926) will cover the following counties: Polk, Barron, St. Croix, Dunn, Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, Pierce, Pepin, Washington, Ozaukee, Waukesha, Sheboygan, Fond Du Lac, Winnebago, Green Lake, and Waushara.

Navigator Jeff Kennedy ([email protected]; 608-249-9001 x 230) will cover the following counties: Marquette, Columbia, Dodge, Dane, Sauk, Jefferson, Richland, Iowa, Grant, Lafayette, Green, and Rock.

Navigator Milton Rogers ([email protected]; 608-266-3332) will cover Department of Corrections statewide.


Farmers For Sustainable Food

Farmers For Sustainable Food
An alliance created five years ago to support and promote farmers in their conservation efforts has reached a new level, with a broader focus, more innovative projects and an increasingly diverse set of partners.

Tuesday, the group, formed in 2016 as the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance, announced its transformation into Farmers for Sustainable Food, a nonprofit organization that provides resources, advocacy, support and empowerment for farmers who are innovating and demonstrating sustainable farming practices.

“Our vision is a sustainable food system in which farmers, their communities and the environment thrive,” said Todd Doornink, president of Farmers for Sustainable Food and a dairy farmer in northwestern Wisconsin. “Our focus is on uniting stakeholders to collaborate across organizational lines, inspiring farmers to be leaders of change and empowering our partners to meet their goals.”

The Dairy Business Association and The Nature Conservancy originally organized the alliance in Wisconsin around the goal of helping dairy farmers make tangible improvements to the environment and other aspects of their farms. Since then, additional partners have come aboard representing various parts of the food supply chain, from individual farms and agricultural groups to food processors and food companies. And the group is facilitating greater opportunities to achieve environmental goals and promote progress in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the Upper Midwest.

“Our momentum has only increased,” said Lauren Brey, who serves as coordinator for Farmers for Sustainable Food.

“During the past year, especially, the organization’s work has become even more innovative, collaborative and widespread — for example, a number of projects aimed at measuring the impact of on-farm conservation practices. The work is growing beyond dairy and beyond Wisconsin as well, including with farmers and processors in Minnesota and South Dakota,” Brey said.

Steve Richter, agricultural strategies director at The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, said partnering five years ago with the now Farmers for Sustainable Food was a natural extension of his organization’s focus on projects at the farm level.

“Together, we have worked to support farmer-led watershed groups who are learning how to use and maximize the benefits of conservation practices, track their results and share what they learn with others,” Richter said.

“Farmers for Sustainable Food’s connections with stakeholders throughout the agriculture supply chain, their strong relationships with farmers, and their ability to create well-structured and well-run projects have complemented our efforts to provide science, technical support and funding to help farmers be successful,” he said.

Brey said Farmers for Sustainable Food closely supports six farmer-led watershed conservation groups encompassing 211 farms, nearly 300,000 acres and 212,000 cows, hogs and other livestock. That support ranges from administration and communication to strategic services and grant applications.

The organization and its partners are also developing on-farm initiatives to test ways of measuring sustainability and documenting the impact of conservation practices, both environmentally and financially.

Grande Cheese, a Wisconsin dairy processor, participates in that work, which reflects two of the company’s pillars of corporate responsibility — environmental awareness and business sustainability, said Greg Siegenthaler, Grande’s vice president of milk marketing and supply chain.

“It is important to Grande to be involved in these creative and progressive sustainability efforts,” Siegenthaler said. “We are proud of our partnership with Farmers for Sustainable Food and are committed to continuing to advance sustainability efforts across Wisconsin.”

Doornink, the group’s president, said a key strength of Farmers for Sustainable Food is the collective commitment throughout the supply chain. “By working together, we open up resources and vastly expand our potential to make meaningful change,” Doornink said. “By being on the forefront of change, we can ensure a future that benefits the food system and our communities and ensures long-term prosperity.”


Dairy Promotion Board Needs Help

Dairy Promotion Board Needs Help
The Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board is seeking staff to work at the Real Wisconsin Cheese Grill and the all new Dairyland Shake Shop during the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair, August 5 – 15, 2021. 

The Real Wisconsin Cheese Grill is located in the Wisconsin Products Pavilion. Grilled cheese sandwiches are the featured item, but specialty cheese products such as cheese curds, cheese sticks and cheese whips are also sold from the grill. Staff would be responsible for assisting with all aspects of making grilled cheese sandwiches and supporting sales of all cheese products. 

The Dairyland Shake Shop is new in 2021 and is located adjacent to the Real Wisconsin Cheese Grill. Staff will be responsible for assisting with all aspects of making and selling chocolate shakes. 

Interested applicants must be at least 16 years old, able to lift 50 pounds and stand for extended periods. Three different 8-hour shifts are available each day, and preference will be given to applicants that can commit to working a minimum of five 8-hour shifts during the fair.

A job description and application are available at wsfdairypromo.org/dairy-fair/real-wisconsin-cheese-grill, or by emailing [email protected].    The Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board is made up of individuals passionate about promoting Wisconsin’s $45.6 billion dairy industry during the Wisconsin State Fair. Providing educational opportunities for attendees with its interactive Dairy Lane exhibit and cow and goat milking demonstrations while also managing the Real Wisconsin Cheese Grill and Blue Ribbon Dairy Products Auction, the board helps fund scholarships for students pursuing careers in the dairy industry, and offers volunteer opportunities for dairy youth to get involved. For more information, email [email protected]; visit wsfdairypromo.org or follow Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board on Facebook.


Potato Grower Elections Underway

Potato Grower Elections Underway
Wisconsin potato growers have until June 15, 2021 to vote to elect three members to the Wisconsin Potato Industry Board. Candidates were nominated during the period that ended April 1, 2021. Districts 1, 2, and 3 each have one open seat. Eligible growers can vote for the candidate in their respective district or write in other eligible producers. 

The nominees on the ballot are:

  • District 1 Nominee: Eric Schroeder, Antigo

Includes Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Brown, Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Door, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Florence, Forest, Iron, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Oneida, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, St. Croix, Taylor, Vilas, and Washburn counties.

  • District 2 Nominee: James Okray, Stevens Point

Includes Marathon, Outagamie, Portage, Shawano, Waupaca, and Waushara counties.

  • District 3 Nominee: John Bobeck, Markesan

Includes Adams, Buffalo, Calumet, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, La Crosse, Lafayette, Manitowoc, Marquette, Milwaukee, Monroe, Ozaukee, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Sheboygan, Trempealeau, Vernon, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Winnebago, and Wood counties.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) will mail ballots to eligible potato growers the week of May 15, 2021. Growers that have not received a ballot by May 22, 2021 can request one by contacting Debbie Gegare, DATCP Market Orders Program Coordinator, at 608-224-5116 or [email protected]. Ballots must be emailed or postmarked by June 15, 2021.

Elected producers will serve three-year terms beginning July 1, 2021 and ending June 30, 2024.

The Wisconsin Potato Industry Board is composed of nine producers in three districts across the state, with one at-large member elected every third year. The board is responsible for administering Wisconsin’s Potato Marketing Order. The board also secures and distributes funding for research, education, and promotion of Wisconsin-grown potatoes.

DATCP administers elections for Wisconsin commodity marketing boards. To learn more about market order boards, visit https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/About_Us/MarketingBoards.aspx.