Forrest Receives Dean Strauss Leadership Award

Brian Forrest, owner and manager of Maple Ridge Dairy near Stratford, Wis., was honored as the fourth recipient of the Dean Strauss Leadership Award on Thur., March 14, at the Professional Dairy Producers® (PDP) Business Conference in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Forrest’s primary focuses at Maple Ridge are sustaining the farm, making each employee’s life better and also establishing an effective succession plan. Together with his team, staying true to these main objectives has earned the dairy recognition on state and national level. This includes Focus on Energy’s 2022 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award as well as platinum-level recognition in 2020 from the National Mastitis Council for the dairy’s consistently low Somatic Cell Count. Forrest was also named a 2021 Wisconsin Agriculturist Master Agriculturist.

Forrest serves as Board Chair of Dairy’s Foundation. He served on the Professional Dairy Producers® board of directors for six years, acting as treasurer for three years. He’s an FFA alumnus and regularly supports the FFA and also serves his community in a number of other roles. A former collegiate wrestler, Forrest has been an anchor in youth wrestling. He helps on the sidelines and has been known to spend entire Saturdays at wrestling meets. He and his wife Elaine decorate a Stratford, Wis., park for the city’s annual Christmas in the Park.

Outside the typical attributes that identify Forrest as a selfless leader, he’s found himself in several circumstances most people never do. In July 2019, he served as a living liver donor for his cousin Richard Gillete. Some time after that, he served as a living donor again by donating a kidney to an anonymous recipient. He also rescued a dog out of a burning barn that he just happened to drive past. Though he didn’t know the owners he spent the entire day assisting. He further displayed his true character by helping a little boy at a county park who was swept under by the waves. Upon learning the boy’s father couldn’t swim, Forrest went in after the boy to help him back to shore.

“Ask anyone who knows Brian and they’ll tell you he’d give you the shirt off his back without blinking,” said Shelly Mayer, Executive Director of PDP. “I’ve had the opportunity to work directly with Brian for several years. I can say firsthand that he is one of the most thoughtful, compassionate people one could ever hope to work with.”

Forrest and his wife Elaine have 5 children. Daughter Kylie lives in Milwaukee and is engaged to be married to her fiancé Aidan. Their son Max attends UW-LaCrosse, and sons Brooks and Lucas are sophomores in high school. Their six-year-old daughter Violet is in kindergarten. The special love of Forrest’s life is his mother Virginia (“Ginny”). Because she has Alzheimer’s, the Forrests have agreed the best place for Ginny to reside is with them.

The Dean Strauss Leadership Award was established by the PDP Board of Directors in 2021 in honor of Dean Strauss. Strauss was a Wisconsin dairy farmer and industry leader who unexpectedly passed away in 2019 at the age of 48. The owner of Majestic Meadows Dairy, LLC, Strauss was active in a number of dairy organizations and leadership boards. This includes PDP’s board, on which he served as president.