• Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors
    Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors announced its 2021 award winners during the organization’s Jan. 28 meeting. Because last year’s meeting was canceled due to COVID-19, the organization also recognized the 2020 award winners at the event, which was held in Columbia at the Trowbridge Livestock Center on the University of Missouri campus.

2021 award winners

Ken Bolte, Dairy Leadership Award. Before his retirement, Bolte was a University of Missouri Extension specialist for nearly 44 years, 38 of those years in Franklin County. During this time, he served as regional dairy specialist, farm management specialist and agriculture business specialist. He worked with Franklin County cattlemen and dairy farmers to develop educational programs that included annual herd health events and dairy seminars.

Kloppe Dairy, Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder Award. This third-generation New Haven dairy, started in 1948 by Lee and Laverne Kloppe, is one of only four farms from Missouri to win a national award for reproduction from the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council. In fact, the Kloppes have won five times.

Toecky Farms, Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder Award. Owned by Tom and Becky Durst of Huggins, Toecky Farms has always focused on the improvement of herd genetics through breeding by combining type along with excellent management of the herd to achieve high production. The Dursts were awarded the Holstein Association’s Progressive Breeder Registry award five times and have also ranked among the top in the state for their BAA score every year.

Bill Wilberding, Meritorious Service Award. Wilberding is senior vice president of operations at Prairie Farms Dairy in Edwardsville, Ill. In this role, he manages the vice presidents of operations, the cheese division, ice cream operations, director of quality, director of technical services, director of safety and vice president of engineering. Wilberding has been involved in numerous innovative dairy solutions in Missouri. One collaboration with a retailer involved developing the first caseless delivery system. He was instrumental in the design, construction and startup of this project.

Karl Musser, Pioneer Dairy Leader Award. Musser served for 31 years as the executive secretary of the American Guernsey Cattle Club. His Missouri ties run deep: He received a master's degree under C.H. Eckles from the University of Missouri in 1914. Musser was well respected by nearly everyone in the registered dairy cattle industry in that era. He is credited for major elements in developing the Purebred Dairy Cattle Association and the National Dairy Shrine.

2020 award winners

Joe Horner, Dairy Leadership Award. Horner, of Columbia, is a University of Missouri Extension state specialist in agricultural economics. He previously served as the executive secretary for the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors and has been a fixture as an extension educator in dairy farm management and economics for more than 30 years.

Schoen Farms, Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder Award. This third-generation dairy in Oak Ridge has earned recognition for high production and herd BAA scores. Started by Marvin and LaFern Schoen, the farm is truly a family affair. Children John, Cathy and their families continue to expand the facilities to improve the efficiency and profitability of the farm for future generations.

Darrell Pidgeon, Meritorious Service Award. Pidgeon, owner of Pidgeon Cattle Co. in Parker, Colo., was recognized for his long career as a cattle merchandiser, judge and showman. Pidgeon worked for the best herds, including J.C. Penney and McDonald Farms. He rode in boxcars with show cattle to state fairs and national shows, and he exported cattle internationally to places such as Japan, Mexico, Canada and Eastern Europe. He received his master’s degree in dairy cattle genetics from the University of Missouri.

Eric Seifert, Meritorious Service Award. Before his retirement, Seifert was a field representative with Dairy Farmers of America. His career began in 1981 with Mid-America Dairymen before its merger with Dairy Farmers of America. He was a valuable resource for numerous dairy farmers in the state. He was also active in the Missouri Dairy Fieldman & Sanitarian’s Association, serving as president.

Bob Braswell, who died in 2000, received the Pioneer Dairy Leader Award for his contributions to the dairy industry. He owned Braswell Sales Service in Ozark. He managed cattle sales in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. He and his wife, Idonna, worked side by side with auctioneers Gary Estes and Richard Melton. Braswell also established the Ozarks Dairyland Sale series, held each spring and fall in Mount Vernon, where dairy producers could consign animals for auction.

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Contact: Gloria Johnson, 573-882-4894