The Bill Boylan Distinguished Service Award

The Bill Boylan Distinguished Service Award (prior to 2009, the DSANA Distinguished Service award) recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the growth and progress of the North American dairy sheep industry.  This honour is awarded annually to a nominee or nominees who has been considered and voted on by the DSANA Board of Directors; the award is presented at the Symposium during the Banquet.

Distinguished Service Award, 2017: Dr Richard Bourassa, and M Andre Charest of CEPOQ, presented by Julie Mayrand (QC) and Marie-Chantal Houde (QC).

Distinguished Service Award, 2017: Dr Richard Bourassa, and M Andre Charest of CEPOQ, presented by Julie Mayrand (QC) and Marie-Chantal Houde (QC).

 Recipients of the Distinguished Service Award

2003 -Dave Thomas, Madison, Wisconsin, Dairy sheep researcher

2004 - Dan Guertin, Stillwater, Minnesota, Dairy sheep producer

2005 - (no award given)

2006 - Pat Elliot,  Rapidan, Virginia, Dairy sheep producer and artisan cheese maker

2007 - Tom and Nancy Clark, Old Chatham, NY, Dairy sheep producers & sheep milk processors

2008 - William Wendorff,  Cross Plains, Wisconsin, Sheep milk processing researcher

2009 - Yves Berger,  Spooner Wisconsin, Dairy Sheep Researcher

2010 - Eric Bzikot,  Fergus, Ontario, Dairy sheep producer and sheep milk processor

2011 - Tom and Laurel Kieffer,  Strum, Wisconsin, Dairy sheep producers

2012 - Bill Halligan, Bushnell, Nebraska, Dairy sheep producer

2013 - Axel Meister,  Markdale, Ontario, Dairy sheep producer

2014 - Terry Felda,  Ione, Oregon, Dairy sheep producer

2015 - Sid Cook,  La Valle, Wisconsin, Sheep milk processor

2016 - Michael Thonney,  Cornell University, Ithaca NY, Sheep reseacher

2017 - Dr Richard Bourassa,  Hôpital Vétérinaire, Sherbrooke, Quebec; and Andre Charest, OVIPRO advisor, CEPOQ, Quebec

2018 (no award given)

History of the Bill Boylan Distinguished Service Award

Bill Boylan.jpg

Bill Boylan’s dedication to the sheep industry began very early in his career, well before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Montana State University in 1952.  He completed an Agriculture Education degree at the University of California-Davis in 1957 and then M.S. (1959) and Ph.D. (1962) degrees in Animal Husbandry at the University of Minnesota. His graduate training was in animal breeding and genetics. 

Bill’s first university position was as an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada from 1962-66. He joined the faculty of Animal Husbandry (later named Animal Science) at the University of Minnesota in September 1966 and remained there until his retirement in June 1995. Bill conducted and published research on the genetics of lab animals, pigs, and sheep, but sheep were always his first love, and his later work was almost exclusively done with sheep for the benefit of the sheep industry. The University of Minnesota imported the first Finnsheep into the U.S. in 1968, and much of the early work with the Finnsheep breed was conducted by Bill and his colleagues.

Bill’s interest in dairy sheep started in the early 1980’s, and he was milking sheep at the University of Minnesota by 1984. The first modern dairy sheep parlor in the U.S. was built by the University of Minnesota under Bill’s direction at the Rosemount Research Station just south of Minneapolis. Some of his first studies involved characterization of the various breeds of U.S. sheep for their milk production. The first national dairy sheep symposium was organized at the University of Minnesota in the mid-1980s by Bill Boylan.  Bill was involved in the first importation of East Friesian genetics into the U.S. A group of 50% East Friesian-50% Arcott Rideau ram lambs were jointly imported from British Columbia, Canada by the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and some private Wisconsin producers in August 1993. The first Great Lakes Dairy Sheep Symposium (now renamed the DSANA Dairy Sheep Symposium) was held in Madison, Wisconsin on March 30, 1995. At that first symposium, Bill presented a paper on “Sheep Dairying in the U.S.” and was presented a plaque in recognition of his pioneering work for the benefit of the dairy sheep industry.

Yves Berger, retired dairy sheep researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Spooner Agricultural Research Station, received his M.S. degree under the direction of Bill Boylan at the University of Minnesota in 1972. Therefore, it was most appropriate that Yves Berger received the first William J. Boylan Distinguished Service Award in 2009 after DSANA had renamed the award in honor of William Boylan.  At the industry moves forward, we remember the pioneering contributions made by Bill to the sheep dairy industry.

The DSANA Mentorship Award and Scholarship Fund

The DSANA Mentorship Award recognizes those who have generously given their time and experience to newcomers in the North American dairy sheep industry.

Since its inception, the sheep dairy industry of North America has benefited from the generous giving of time, support and mentoring by many people who have provided the backbone and foundation for growing a new industry.  These are the people who worked through the good and challenging times in their own businesses, yet were ever willing to share what they learned with whoever asked, or give their time and energies to support the emerging dairy sheep industry in North America.  These are the familiar faces that bring us back to the Symposia year after year and the people we contact throughout the year when we are stumped by industry challenges.

The DSANA Mentorship Award recipient will be nominated by the DSANA membership, then considered and voted on by the DSANA Board of Directors.   A scholarship that covers the registration costs of that year’s upcoming DSANA Symposium will be given to a dairy sheep producer new to the industry, to be identified by that year’s Mentorship Award recipient.

Tom Kieffer, Strum WI

Tom Kieffer, Strum WI

In 2017, the first year of the Mentorship Award, the Symposium scholarship was initiated in loving memory of Thomas Kieffer whose sheep dairy journey began in 1995 and concluded in 2014.  In the words of Laurel Kieffer: "Having people in our industry caring and helping each other is what has kept this industry going.  Tom and I were supported and helped by so many people early on, and then we became deeply committed to helping others.  The friendships and mentorships run deep for so many of us."  DSANA members and friends are invited to contribute to future Symposium scholarships on behalf of industry leaders who, like Tom, have generously of their time and energies, and have left their imprint.

DSANA Mentorship Award, 2018: Kendall Russell of Lark’s Meadow Farms in Rexburg, Idaho.

DSANA Mentorship Award, 2018: Kendall Russell of Lark’s Meadow Farms in Rexburg, Idaho.

Recipients of the DSANA Mentorship Award

2017 - Eric & Elisabeth Bzikot, Best Baa Dairy,  Fergus, Ontario. Scholarship Recipient - Meghan Spares, Nova Scotia

2018 - Kendall Russell, Lark’s Meadow Farms, Rexburg, Idaho.

Want to nominate someone for the Mentorship Award?

If you have been the happy recipient of the patient time, sage advice, deep wisdom, and/or refreshing perspective coming from an experienced dairy sheep producer (or processor!), and would like to nominate that person for the DSANA Mentorship Award, please fill out the form below!

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