Dick Cates named Master Agriculturalist by the Wisconsin Agriculturalist

Dick Cates, director of the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers and lecturer in the Department of Soil Science, was recently honored with a 2016 Master Agriculturalist award from the Wisconsin Agriculturist. Recipients are selected for their proven ability and accomplishments as progressive farmers, as well as for the time, effort and leadership they contribute to community, church and agricultural organizations.

2016 Master Agriculturists (left to right): Hank Wagner, Dick Cates, Ken Feltz and Mark Dietsche. Photo by Harlen Persinger.
2016 Master Agriculturists (left to right): Hank Wagner, Dick Cates, Ken Feltz and Mark Dietsche. Photo by Harlen Persinger.

Cates received his award during a ceremony on March 30 at La Sure’s Hall in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, along with this year’s three other award winners: Mark Dietsche of Bloomer, Ken Feltz of Stevens Point and Hank Wagner of Oconto Falls.

The Master Agriculturist award is given to honor not only the selected individuals, but also their families. The Master Agriculturist program is the oldest farm awards program in the state, and is one of the longest-running career-achievement honors programs in American agriculture. The award dates back to 1930, when the Wisconsin Agriculturist first started honoring top Wisconsin farmers for their hard work, dedication, success in farming and exemplary leadership.

A nice write-up by the Wisconsin Agriculturalist describes Cates’ career path, farm operation and community contributions. Here’s an excerpt:

In 2013, their conservation efforts on their farm were rewarded with the Wisconsin Leopold Conservation Award. The prestigious crystal award and $10,000 honored their achievements in stewardship and management of natural resources. With the funds, Dick and Kim started a scholarship for graduates of River Valley High School who want to continue in agricultural studies; and they support the annual Iowa County Youth Conservation Day.

In addition to farming, Dick is a senior lecturer in the Department of Soil Science and associate director of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at UW-Madison. In 1995, he co-founded the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers. Some 500 students have been enrolled in the WSBDF during the past 21 years. Dick has helped hundreds of young people get started farming. He has also volunteered as a consultant with numerous farmer-to-farmer assistance projects throughout the world. For nine years, Kim worked for Sen. Herb Kohl as his agricultural liaison in Wisconsin.

Dick has held a variety of leadership positions. For the past 10 years he has served on (presently, as president) the River Valley School Board, and now also as board member of the Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program. He served 10 years on the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection board of directors concluding as vice chair.

The article also notes:

Dick also plans to continue teaching at UW-Madison. “I am privileged to be able to train some of the next generation of farmers, and I really love it.”