CALS to honor Jerry Apps, James Costello, Fritz Friday, Bob Oleson, Richard Roembke & William Sperber on Oct. 21

On Oct. 21 CALS will present its Distinguished Service Award to Jerry Apps, Professor Emeritus of Continuing and Vocational Education and a widely known local author. The college also will present its Distinguished Alumni Award to Fritz Friday, a retired canning industry executive, and it’s Honorary Recognition Award to four leaders in the agricultural and food industries: James Costello, Malone; Bob Oleson, Palmyra; Richard Roembke, Cedarburg; and William Sperber, Minnetonka, Minn. The honors will be bestowed on that date at a banquet in Great Hall of the Memorial Union. All faculty, staff and friends of the college are cordially invited to attend.

The Honorary Recognition Award goes to individuals who have made significant contributions to their professions, their communities and the university. Over the past 100 years, nearly 500 men and women have received this honor. The college has been giving the Distinguished Service Award since 1994 to recognize meritorious service by faculty and staff members. Last year the college added the Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes outstanding lifetime achievement and service.

Jerold Apps has been involved in adult education for more than 50 years, both as a professor in that field and as a well-known author of books about Midwest rural history and other topics. He began his university career in 1957 as a county extension agent and went on to serve as a state Extension 4-H specialist, professor and chair of the Department of Continuing and Vocational Education, educator in the UW-Extension Office of Professional Development, and Director of the National Extension Leadership Development Program. He retired from the university in 1994 but continues to write and speak about topics ranging from barns, breweries and cheese making to rural schools and circus history, and to teach creative writing to adults who want to tell their own stories. In recent years he has also become a novelist, crafting stories that meld contemporary issues and agricultural history in a Wisconsin setting.

James Costello founded Jimco Guernsey, developed one of the nation’s top Guernsey herds and turned his Fond du Lac County farm into a model of land conservation. Over the years, he has served in leadership capacities at East Central Select Sires Cooperative, AgriLand Cooperative, Fond du Lac County’s executive committee for Wisconsin Farm Progress Days, Fond du Lac County’s board of supervisors and the Wisconsin Associated County Extension Committee. He currently serves as board president of the Great Lakes Nonpoint Pollution Abatement Coalition’s Wisconsin division and is a charter member of Glacierland Resource Conservation and Development, an association that promotes sustainable rural development.

Fritz Friday, emeritus chairman of the Friday Canning Corp., New Richmond, has been a leader in his industry and has provided outstanding support for the sciences that underlie it. After earning a B.S. degree in food science in 1955, he built his family’s business into one of the nation’s leading food processing firms. Throughout his career he has advised and advocated for CALS, serving on the college’s Board of Visitors and the advisory boards of the food science and plant pathology departments, and, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Food Processors Association, sponsoring many research projects in food processing and plant breeding. He was a leader in the effort to raise funds to expand and remodel Babock Hall and has provided substantial financial support on his own, including endowing named professorships in both the food science and horticulture departments.

Bob Oleson is a corn and soybean grower who has worked long and hard to strengthen markets for those commodities. As a member of the board of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, he worked to establish a check-off system to raise funds for corn research and promotion. He has served as director of the United Soybean Board, and president of the Corn Development Foundation and the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board. He currently serves as executive director for the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association and the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board and is active in efforts to develop large-scale biofuel production in Wisconsin.

Richard Roembke is a long-time leader in Wisconsin’s sheep industry and in Washington County’s agriculture community. His purebred Hampshire breeding stock are known industry-wide for their excellent genetic traits and pedigree integrity. Roembke is also a leader in adopting new and more effective management tools, such as the National Sheep Improvement Program. As a leader in the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative, he was instrumental in organizing that group’s Wisconsin Sheep Industry Conference, and later, its Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. Roembke has also been a leader in the Washington County Agricultural and Industrial Society and the Washington County Fair as well as many other activities in his community.

William Sperber is a food microbiologist who has made major contributions to the safety of the nation’s food supply. He began his career at Best Foods, moved to Pillsbury in 1972, and in 1995 moved to Cargill, where he served as senior corporate microbiologist. While at Pillsbury he played a key role in the first company-wide implementation of HACCP, a comprehensive food safety management protocol that encompasses the food system from farm to store. Sperber has served on a number of influential committees dedicated to food safety, including the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods, and since 2007 he has been promoting the concept of an international Food Protection Organization, operated under the auspices of the United Nations.

CALS will celebrate the contributions of these remarkable individuals at its annual Honorary Recognition Banquet and Ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 21 in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union on the UW-Madison campus. Friends of the honorees and friends of the college are cordially invited to attend. For more information or to register, please visit The registration deadline is Oct. 11. Please contact Arla Dauscher, CALS External Relations (, 608-262-5784) for additional questions.