CALS 2012 honorees: Robert and Carol Black, Martin Burkhardt, Roger Cliff, Karl Klessig and Ken Shapiro

CALS will honor six individuals at it annual Honorary Recognition Banquet on October 18. Receiving the CALS Honorary Recognition Award will be Robert B. and Carol Janice Black of Columbus, Roger A. Cliff of Verona, and Karl S. Klessig of Cleveland. The CALS Distinguished Alumni Award will go to Martin E. Burkhardt of Wausau. Kenneth H. Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Applied Economics, will receive the CALS Distinguished Service Award.

Robert and Carol Black raise Dorset sheep and are longtime leaders in efforts to support Wisconsin sheep producers and promote sheep products. Among his many contributions, Bob Black helped create the Wisconsin Sheep Industry Conference in 1981 and since 1984 has served as chair of that event—now expanded and renamed the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival (WSWF). The annual event draws 8,000 visitors, most of whom are non-farmers who come to learn about the sheep industry and its products. He has held several leadership positions in the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative (WSB) and current serves as editor of its quarterly publication, the Wisconsin Shepherd. Carol is also a key mover behind the WSWF, serving as publicity chair and manager of Wisconsin Wool Works, a program of the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative that sells wool items at the WSWF and at the Wisconsin State Fair. The couple also operate a company that sells wool products and other sheep-related items.

Roger Cliff is Chief Administrative Officer of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation (WFBF), and has held a number of other leadership posts in that organization in the past. In those roles he has worked with eight governors and hundreds of state and federal legislators on both sides of the aisle in the development of sound agricultural policies related to farmland preservation, farmland taxation, environmental stewardship and other issues. He has also provided guidance and advocacy on behalf of the UW System on a number of legislative fronts. He was instrumental in efforts leading to passage of legislation that established the Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, the Pioneer Farm at UW-Platteville and UW-Extension’s Discovery Farms Program. He has regularly advocated for CALS in efforts to obtain Hatch and Smith-Lever research funding and has supported the Farm and Industry Short course and other programs that prepare young people for agricultural careers.

Karl Klessig and his family operate Saxon Homestead Farm (SHF) and Saxon Homestead Creamery in southern Manitowoc County. He is known as a forward-thinking  producer who takes every opportunity to share his skills and expertise with community and dairy-based organizations. He is an ardent supporter of university agricultural research and education programs geared toward environmentally sound agricultural practices. SHF is one of only a handful of farms in Wisconsin that are part of the UW Discovery Farms program. Much of the science and outreach work done on Klessig’s operation focuses on intensive rotational grazing and spring seasonal calving, practices which SHF adopted in 1991. SHF has also been a model for development of a farmstead-based value-added agricultural enterprise, evidenced by the award-winning cheeses and maple syrup bearing the Saxon Homestead label, and several agri-tourism enterprises underway at SHF.

Martin Burkhardt puts a lot of stock in hands-on learning. He recalls that one of the most valuable parts of his UW-Madison education entailed assisting the late agricultural engineering professor Ham Bruhn on various research projects in exchange for a small stipend. What he learned served him well in a career that includes faculty positions at both the UW-Platteville and State University of New York/Cobleskill and a variety of positions at Wausau Insurance Companies. This made him a strong advocate for programs that provide students with financial assistance based on their participation in hands-on work experiences. To promote such efforts he established the Burkhardt Fund, which supports a variety of work experiences for students in three departments: Biological Systems Engineering and Nutritional Sciences in CALS, and Environmental Textiles and Design in the School of Human Ecology. The fund also established the Burkhardt English Garden in the Allen Centennial Gardens in honor of Martin Burkhardt’s parents. Burkhardt is also a charter member, former board member and among the hardest-working volunteers of the Wisconsin Agricultural and Life Sciencces Alumni Association.

Ken Shapiro joined CALS in 1982 as Associate Dean and Director of the Office of International Programs, and more recently, served as Chair of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. Throughout his tenure  he has been a leader in efforts that have bolstered CALS’s and the UW-Madison’s status as a world-class institution. In particular, he has worked tirelessly to ensure that international agricultural collaborations are an integral part of the college’s research, teaching and outreach activities. He is skilled at identifying ways to apply the unique strengths of a land grant university to address some of the world’s most pressing problems, and to develop opportunities for his colleagues to learn about and address these challenges across the globe. He has done this in Sub-Saharan Africa through projects in The Gambia, Zambia and Uganda among others; in South America by supporting projects in Bolivia and Peru; and in Central America in Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica. In recent years he has provided leadership for the college’s engagement with China and India. Among his many accomplishments, he helped co-found the Khorana Program for Scientific Exchange, which partners with the Indian government, universities, NGOs and the private sector to bring top Indian undergrad science students to the UW-Madison and to send UW students to India for lab experiences during the summer. That program is now expanding to include other schools in the Big Ten and around the country.