• Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors awardees for 2023. From left, Donald Waterman, Vanitta Conrad and Paula Schlager (children of the late Donald and Betty June Waterman), Scott Brown, Greg Helbig and Larry Wright. Not pictured: Sean Cornelius. Photo by Jason Vance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors honored its 2023 winners in a special ceremony Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, said Gloria Johnson, executive secretary for the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors.

Sean Cornelius of Hamilton is a recipient of the Dairy Leadership Award. Cornelius is a third-generation dairyman currently milking 120 crossbred cattle on 1,200 acres. He says he takes great pride in producing of high-quality, home-grown forages for his dairy herd, providing the key component in supporting profitable production and maintaining the herd’s rolling average of 23,580 pounds. In addition to the daily dairy enterprise, he owns and operates Best Axis Consulting where he helps dairy producers in all surrounding states reach production goals through nutrition and implementing best management practices. Cornelius played a pivotal role in the creation, development and vision for Missouri Dairy, a commodity organization for dairy producers. He has chaired the Missouri Dairy Industry Alliance and the planning committee for University of Missouri Extension’s Tri-Co Dairy Day. He has served on the Missouri Farm Bureau dairy advisory council and as president of the Caldwell County Farm Bureau organization.

Greg Helbig is also a recipient of the Dairy Leadership Award. A lifelong resident of southwestern Missouri, Helbig has spent his entire working career of 38 years in the dairy industry. He started with Hiland Dairy in 1985 in the quality assurance lab. He was later promoted to plant supervisor and then in 1989 became corporate quality control manager. Today, he is director of operations for all of Hiland’s 23 manufacturing facilities, overseeing plant operations, capital budget and quality and food safety issues. He is currently president of the Missouri Dairy Products Association. He has also been a longtime member of the Missouri State Milk Board and is on the board of directors of the QCS Purchasing Group. Helbig is also a past member of the Ice Cream Segment Board for the International Dairy Foods Association.

Larry Wright of Wrightvale Holsteins in Verona is the recipient of the Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder Award. Wrightvale milks 70 head of registered Holsteins with a BAA of 108.7 and farms 340 acres of corn silage and hay. Wright says his focus remains breeding high-type cattle, focusing on strong cow families that last generations. This allows Wrightvale to market cows, bulls and calves to local and national buyers. To date, Wrightvale has had six Grand Champions and exhibited the 2022 Supreme Champion at the Missouri State Fair. Other honors include multiple All-Missouri awards nearly every year since 1976. Wright has been a member of Holstein USA for more than  40 years and the Missouri Holstein Association for even longer. He served as the 2012 National Holstein Convention sale chairman. The farm was honored as the Missouri State Fair Farm Family in 2004. Every year, Wrightvale hosts the youth dairy judging camp and is heavily involved in the Missouri 4-H Dairy Cow Camp.

Scott Brown of Columbia is the recipient of the Meritorious Service Award. Brown is an associate extension professor in the University of Missouri Extension’s Division of Applied Social Sciences and interim director of the MU Rural and Farm Finance Policy Analysis Center. Brown has testified regularly before Congress and the Missouri legislature on agricultural policy issues, and his economic analysis has supported federal dairy policy legislation since the 1990 farm bill. He recently provided economic analysis in the 2023 federal milk market order hearing. Brown has received numerous awards, including the C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award, which recognizes University of Missouri faculty members demonstrating commitment and effectiveness in advancing the university’s land-grant mission, and the Distinguished American Agricultural Economics Association Policy Contribution Award, which recognizes outstanding impact on agricultural and related policy. You can hear Brown’s weekly market outlook on the Brownfield Ag News livestock market update, and he writes monthly columns for Missouri Ruralist and Hoard’s Dairymen.

Donald and Betty June Waterman, formerly of Williamstown, were recognized with the posthumous Pioneer Dairy Leader Award. The Watermans farmed 260 acres in Lewis County and raised good-quality Guernseys for more than 35 years. They worked diligently to develop a purebred, registered dairy herd, milking 60 cows, and having a TPE herd. The Watermans also sold heifers to other dairy farms in multiple states. They showed cattle at the Missouri and Iowa state fairs, the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as several county and district fairs. The Watermans were producers for Prairie Farms Dairy in Quincy, Illinois, for almost 20 years and received the Annual Prairie Farms Premier Dairyman Award in recognition of superior quality milk production for more than 10 years running. They were members of the American Guernsey Association and the Missouri Guernsey Breeders Association. Donald served on the District MGBA board. They were named the Lewis County Farm Family at the Missouri State Fair in 1959.

The Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors Foundation was established in 1988 following the merger of the Association of Missouri Dairy Organizations with the Missouri Dairy Association. The Foundation has two goals: to maintain and perpetuate a Dairy Hall of Honors to recognize outstanding leadership in the Missouri dairy industry, including excellence of achievement among dairy cattle breeders, and to provide an archive for the preservation of records and memorabilia of the Missouri dairy industry in cooperation with the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Missouri. For more information, go to

Media contact: Gloria Johnson, 573-882-0770,

Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors awardees for 2023. From left, Donald Waterman, Vanitta Conrad and Paula Schlager (children of the late Donald and Betty June Waterman), Scott Brown, Greg Helbig and Larry Wright. Not pictured: Sean Cornelius. Photo by Jason Vance.
Missouri Dairy President Sally Burd presents Sean Cornelius with a 2023 Dairy Leadership Award. Photo by Jason Vance.
Donald and Betty June Waterman were posthumously awarded the 2023 Missouri Dairy Pioneer Dairy Leader Award.