Established in 2011, the Friend of the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative Award annually recognizes persons, businesses or organizations that have provided outstanding support and service to the Cooperative or to its primary event, the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. The recipients for 2018 were Bernie O’Rourke, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Extension Youth Livestock Specialist, and her husband, Ron Patterson, Agriculture Sales Manager for GLC Minerals.
In making the presentation, Todd Taylor, Shepherd at the UW-Arlington Sheep Unit, said that O’Rourke had been instrumental in both the creation and implementation of the Youth Sweepstakes at the festival, helping to score and officiate in a program that involves over 200 youth each year in twelve areas of competition. He added that she had also officiated the Youth Judging Contest at Jefferson and been a part of the youth programming at almost every Arlington Sheep Day. Taylor went on to say that “Bernie has impacted hundreds of youth through the organization of state 4-H and FFA livestock and meats judging contests, as well as the 4-H skillathon and quiz bowl programs.”
Patterson took a lead role in developing the computerized clerking program for the festival fleece shows and sales, and has scored the Youth Judging Contest and overall Youth Sweepstakes programs. He has also clerked every Badger Production Sale, along with national sheep sales held at Arlington and redesigned the US Targhee Sheep Association registry database.
The presentations were made at the recent Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Co-op annual meeting and recognition dinner on March 10 at the Arlington Research Station’s Public Events Facility.