Wisconsin Ag Connection – CALS to Honor Exemplary Leaders During 2022 Banquet

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CALS to Honor Exemplary Leaders During 2022 Banquet
Wisconsin Ag Connection – 08/18/2022


Seven outstanding professionals will be honored by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall. The school announced it will present its Honorary Recognition Awards to Andy and Steve Diercks, Liz Henry and George Siemon; its Distinguished Service Award to Richard Straub; and its Distinguished Alumni Award to Barry Jacobsen and Jenny Scott. Each will be recognized during a special ceremony in October.

Father and son duo Steve and Andy Diercks have had a significant impact on Wisconsin agriculture, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the state and the nation for over 50 years, having held leadership roles in local, college, state and national
agricultural organizations. They are among the state’s leading potato growers and have put into practice some of the most modern production systems on their farm. The family led the effort to establish the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Storage Research
Facility at the UW-Madison Hancock Agricultural Research Station, and they were critical to the establishment of the Wisconsin Potato Industry Board – Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship program and the UW Foundation Wisconsin Potato
Industry Donor Advised Fund.

Henry’s CALS degree in meat and animal science paired with a Master of Business Administration provided a strong foundation for her efforts to elevate the agribusiness industry in Wisconsin. She served as a Farm and Industry Short Course housefellow, Alice
in Dairyland, CALS instructor and advisor and in various leadership positions in ag-related businesses while growing the family businesses, Henry Farms, and Henry Farms Prairie Spirits (J Henry & Sons). In 2005, she became the associate director of the
university’s Renk Agribusiness Institute, where she developed the Renk Scholarship Program, revived the Ag Business Management Club and assumed leadership of the annual Agricultural Outlook Forum.

Since establishing Organic Valley in 1988, Siemon has helped transform American farmland by helping to create a demand for organic food including dairy, eggs and meat products. To protect and grow this emerging sector of Wisconsin’s agriculture, Siemon
led the development of the federal organic standard, creating and stabilizing an industry now worth $60 billion a year. He has worked for more than 40 years to better the environment and livelihoods of neighbors in the Driftless Region and extending those
benefits to farmers and communities across the country. Siemon was instrumental in establishing the Clif Bar and Organic Valley Chair in Plant Breeding for Organic Agriculture in CALS.

Throughout his 40-year career, Straub has not only served as a faculty member but also as a leader in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, his home department, and in CALS. He served as the BSE department chair for two terms, and for the
college as senior associate dean, director of Agricultural Research Stations, and executive director of the Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station. As senior associate dean, Straub led faculty personnel issues, including hiring nearly 60 faculty members. He
played important roles in planning for new facilities, gaining authority from the Wisconsin legislature to purchase and sell agricultural lands and managing reductions to the college’s budget following cuts to UW System.

Jacobsen received a Ph.D. at University of Minnesota and then launched a highly productive career that spanned three land-grant universities and left many lasting, positive impacts in the fields of plant pathology and integrated pest management. He is a Fulbright
alumnus, a fellow of the American Phytopathological Society, and holds eight patents. A number of Jacobsen’s patents pertain to the commercially-released biological control organism Bacillus mycoides isolate J, which is known commercially as LifeGard
Biological Plant Activator. This foliar-applied biocontrol product, which acts by inducing plants’ natural disease defenses, is active against a broad spectrum of pathogens and is approved for use in organic crop production. Jacobsen recently gained emeritus
status at Montana State University after 28 years serving as professor, department head, associate director of the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station, and dean of the College of Agriculture.

With her breadth of knowledge and expertise, Scott has devoted her entire career to the advancement of safe food production and the development of programs that address the complex safety and public health issues facing all facets of the food industry. Her
four-decade long career in academia, industry and government service give her unique perspectives and strengths in promoting dialogue and consensus among industry, academia, NGOs and intra- and inter-governmental agencies. Scott earned her master’s
degree through the Department of Bacteriology at UW-Madison and then spent the next five years at the Food Research Institute, where she contributed to groundbreaking studies on the control of pathogens and other hazards in foods.

The awards will be presented at the CALS Honorary Recognition Banquet on October 13 in Union South.


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