Dave Dickson’s family gives $775,000 to support the teams he used to coach

Dave Dickson led five UW teams to championships at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest—an event he'd won when he was in college. He knew his stuff: He judged more cattle shows at World Dairy Expo than any other show official.
Dave Dickson led five UW teams to championships at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest. He knew his stuff. He’d won the event himself when he was in college and was a highly regarded cattle judge who had judged more cattle shows at World Dairy Expo than any other show official.

The Department of Dairy Science has announced the creation of a $775,000 fund to help dairy science students defray costs of attending events that are a key part of their education. The David P. Dickson Foundation is establishing the fund, named for late “Dr. Dave” Dickson, to cover registration fees, travel and other expenses associated with participating in dairy judging and Dairy Challenge contests.

Dickson, who died in 2010, was a UW-Madison dairy science professor from 1966 to 1996 and continued to serve the university and the industry after his retirement. His family is making the gift to ensure that his legacy survives in the communities that meant the most to him, says Tim Garnett, executor of Dickson’s estate.

“If you knew Uncle Dave,” Garnett says, “there was never any doubt what he loved most—family, cows and the University of Wisconsin. For me and the rest of the family, making a gift to the UW-Madison dairy judging team was the clear way to tie all of his passions together.”

Dickson was especially proud of his role as a coach of UW dairy cattle judging teams—a role he continued well into his retirement. He led Badger teams to five national championships at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest. His teams also won 12 titles at the national contest for oral reasons, the part of the competiton in which contestants explain the rationale for their judging decisions. Dickson emphasized oral reasons in his coaching as a way to help his students develop communication and critical thinking skills.

Dickson also made lasting contributions to the Wisconsin 4-H program, the National Cooperative Dairy Herd Improvement program and was founding advisor to the UW-Madison’s Badger Dairy Club.

UW dairy science department chair Kent Weigel regards Dickson’s gift as yet another of “Dr. Dave’s” contributions to the education of students and farmers and the advancement of dairy science in Wisconsin.

“We are tremendously grateful to the Dickson family for this generous endowment,” Weigel said, “It will ensure that future UW-Madison dairy science students are able to take advantage of every available opportunity, both inside and outside of the classroom, to prepare themselves for leadership positions in the industry.”

That’s exactly what Dickson and his family had in mind, says Tim Garnett.

“From a very young age,” Garnett says, “cattle judging provided Uncle Dave with the tools and opportunities he needed to see the world and become the amazing man he became. I personally wanted to ensure that he could continue to provide the same sorts of opportunities for generations of UW students and cattle judges to come.”