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CALS 2011 honorees: Ed Jesse, Steve Diercks, John Pagel

CALS will be honoring ag economist Edward Jesse, potato producer Steve Diercks and dairy farmer John Pagel at its Oct. 13 honorary recognition banquet. Jesse will receive the CALS Distinguished Service Award, while Pagel will receive the Honorary Recognition Award and Diercks will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. Friends of the honorees and friends of the college are cordially invited to attend. Go here for more information or to register. The registration deadline is Oct. 3.

The Honorary Recognition Award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to their professions, their communities and the university. Nearly 500 men and women have received this honor since it was established in 1909. The Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes outstanding lifetime achievement and service, has been presented since 2009. The Distinguished Service Award, first presented in 1994, recognizes meritorious service by CALS faculty and staff members.

Jesse is known for his ability to explain complex, evolving agricultural polices and markets in ways that make them understandable to a wide variety of audiences. He has done this in his UW-Madison classes, in presentations at industry and Extension workshops, and to state and federal policymakers. While most of his research and outreach has been geared to improving the competitiveness of Wisconsin’s dairy industry, he has also devoted considerable attention to the fruit and vegetable sector, both in his early career with USDA’s Economic Research Service and later as a member of the USDA Cranberry Marketing Committee. In 1986 he spearheaded the effort to produce the first annual Status of Wisconsin Agriculture report. A quarter-century later, he continues to edit and co-author the report and to help organize a yearly Wisconsin agricultural outlook conference. He has served as chair of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Department, as CALS Associate Dean for Outreach and Extension, and as Director of Extension’s Agricultural and Natural Resources Program. He returned to his department to expand his focus to include international dairy markets, serving as director of Trade and Policy Studies for the Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development.

Diercks is owner/manager of Coloma Farms, a family operation that produces potatoes and other vegetables on 2,800 acres in Waushara and Adams counties. He has been active in the potato industry at every level and has served CALS in many capacities. He has been a leader in the Wisconsin Potato Industry Board, which directs funding to research and other initiatives that help the industry meet challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. Coloma Farms has been an active participant in the Healthy Grown Potato Program, a partnership between CALS, the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, and the World Wildlife Fund to grow a product that is profitable and environmentally sound. Diercks was instrumental in arranging industry financing for a potato storage research facility at the Hancock Agricultural Research Station, and he has made his own farm available to CALS scientists for countless field studies. He has served on the CALS Board of Visitors, and he and his wife, Pat, have given generously to support many CALS programs.

Pagel and his family operate Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy in Kewaunee County. This 4,500-cow operation supports 85 employees, showcases the latest technology and serves as a model for large commercial dairies in the region. Pagel is tireless in his efforts on behalf of the dairy industry and Wisconsin agriculture. He helped found the Dairy Business Association, serves as president of the new Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative and is on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s board of directors. He is an active participant in the UW Discovery Farms Program, a public/private partnership that seeks solutions to environmental challenges faced by Wisconsin dairy farms. He was a key player in the design and construction of the new dairy research facility at the UW-Madison’s Arlington Agricultural Research Station. He supports UW-Extension programs by hosting employee training workshops and farm tours and participating in on-farm trials. Pagel is also active in his community; he serves on the Kewaunee School Board and is involved in the Kewaunee Chamber of Commerce and the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation.

For more information, contact Janis Simons at (608) 262-4930 or