New faces in leadership roles at CALS Agricultural Research Stations

Look for new faces when you visit the college’s ag research stations at Hancock, Marshfield, West Madison, Spooner and Lancaster, as well as the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center’s field station at Prairie du Sac. In the past six month the university has hired or promoted five individuals to leadership roles at those facilities to fill vacancies created by retirements and transfers.

The new station staff include:

Felix Navarro, superintendent, Hancock Agricultural Research Station (as of June 9). As superintendent, Navarro will oversee personnel, financial and facility management, capital planning, and coordination of field research and outreach activities at the Hancock station, which supports over 150 research projects. Navarro knows the territory. For the past eight years, he has worked as a potato breeder and geneticist in the UW-Madison Department of Horticulture’s. During that time he served as interim superintendent at the Rhinelander Station for a year and worked extensively at both the Hancock and Rhinelander stations. A native of the Dominican Republic, Navarro received his B.S. in agronomy from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, his M.S. in agronomy from the University of Nebraska, and his Ph.D. in horticulture at the UW-Madison.

Jason Cavadini, assistant superintendent, Marshfield Agricultural Research Station (as of May). His main responsibilities are to coordinate crop research and manage the production of forage and grain to supply the station’s dairy herds. A native of the LaCrosse area, Cavadini earned a B.S. in crop and soil science at the UW-River Falls.  As an undergrad he had two internships, one with UW-Madison soil scientist Carrie Laboski, the other with Dow AgroSciences Mycogen Seeds.  He completed his  M.S. degree at Purdue University this spring.

Janet Hedtcke,  assistant superintendent, West Madison station (as of February). She oversees the station’s organic crop research and fruit research and the horticultural gardens.  She also works with superintendent Tom Wright to coordinate the field and vegetable crop research. Hedtcke grew up on a dairy farm near Milton and earned a B.S. in natural resources and M.S. in agronomy and dairy science at UW-Madison.  For the past 13 years, she has worked as a research specialist in the UW-Madison Department of Agronomy, coordinating crop research and data collection on the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial, a long-term project involving a variety of crops and incorporating both organic and conventional cropping strategies.

Ron Skoyen, herd manager, Dairy Forage Research Center field station (as of last December). In that position, Skoyen works with USDA and UW-Madison scientists to coordinate and carry out research involving the 320 milking cows and 350 replacement heifers. He also oversees personnel management, budgets and facilities, is responsible for maintaining the health and welfare of the dairy herd. Skoyen grew up on his family’s dairy farm in Trempeleau County and remained active in the operation until 2006.  He attended the UW-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course, earned a B.S. in business administration at UW-Eau Claire, and recently received his MBA from Cardinal Stritch University.  For the past five years he has worked in a supervisory position with the DFRC.

 Michel Baldin, assistant researcher, Spooner Agricultural Research Station (as of last October). His responsibilities include coordinating and providing technical assistance in research involving the dairy sheep flock.  This includes determining the design of experiments and carrying out treatments as well as collecting and analyzing data. Baldin grew up on a dairy and beef farm in Brazil.  He earned his B.S. in zootechny, and M.S., in animal science from Santa Catarina State University in Brazil.  For his M.S. Michel focused on performance and milk composition of dairy goats and sheep fed a total mixed ration and UCLA supplement.

Arin Crooks, superintendent, Lancaster Agricultural Research Station (as of March). Crooks knows the station; for the past nine years he’s served as assistant superintendent overseeing research on genetics, weaning and rotational grazing involving the station’s 120 spring calving Angus and 50-60 feeder cattle. As superintendent, he’ll continue that work, but also be in charge of the station’s administration, finances and facilities. Crooks grew up on a small, diversified dairy and livestock operation near Brodhead.  He became interested in animal research while earning a B.S. in animal science at UW-Madison and went on to earn an M.S. in animal breeding under Professor Dave Thomas.