CALS Agricultural Research Stations recently honored three individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the ARS program at its annual Recognition Awards Reception and Dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

This year’s award recipients include:

  • Todd Andraski (Soil Science) – Recognition Award for Service
  • Felix Navarro (Hancock ARS) – ARS Staff Award
  • Dan Schaefer (Animal Sciences) – Recognition Award for Research
Todd Andraski (right) with Jason Cavadini, Marshfield ARS assistant supervisor, at the ARS award reception on Jan. 22, 2020.

Todd Andraski has been a researcher in the Department of Soil Science for 34 years, focusing on soil fertility and nutrient management. He began his career working with Larry Bundy, with whom he authored or co-authored over 20 journal publications, all in the realm of nutrient management in field crops. In recent years, he has served the same position working with soil science professor Carrie Laboski. During his career, Andraski has earned the respect of colleagues due to his role in an array of projects, most notably as the “boots on the ground” behind the majority of Wisconsin’s nutrient management guidelines that still drive decisions on farms today.

Andraski has a keen understanding of scientific design for conducting quality field trials, and his trials are top-notch thanks to his organization, preparation, and attention to fine detail. And his good qualities go far beyond his research skills. Andraski has a good-natured sense of humor that is complemented by professionalism, and he works well with station staff and displays patience and resolve when bad weather, faulty equipment, or operational miscues throw a wrench in plans. He has a knack for training students and getting the best out of them. Todd is a pleasure to work with, and his quality of work is second to none.

Felix Navarro (left) with Mike Peters, ARS director, at the ARS award reception on Jan. 22, 2020.

Felix Navarro, superintendent of Hancock Agricultural Research Station, is a daily example of what great leadership should be via his strong work ethic, his ability to inspire those around him and his extraordinary commitment to Hancock Station, station staff and the many researchers and visitors who use the station. He is always striving to provide relevant, value-driven service to researchers and industry partners interested in potatoes, vegetables, field crops, soil health and environmental issues.

Under Navarro’s leadership, the Hancock Station supports more than 40 research groups and nearly 200 research projects each growing season. In addition, the station supports numerous research trials and projects in the Storage Research Facility on the station. This volume of work places great pressure on the station resources and demands a top performance in every aspect of the station’s operations. Navarro somehow manages to meet these expectations with a remarkable ease but is quick to credit a talented and motivated station staff.  He has an ability to get the full potential from each of his employees by developing and using their diverse strengths and talents and reinforcing how important individual roles are to the greater overall mission of the Hancock Station.

Over the years, Navarro has been successful in upgrading many of the station’s research resources and facilities, and the station continues to flourish under his leadership. His efforts embody the Wisconsin idea.

Dan Schaefer (left) with Arin Crooks, Lancaster ARS superintendent, at the ARS award reception on Jan. 22, 2020.

Dan Schaefer, recently retired from the Department of Animal Sciences, is an expert in beef cattle production systems, meat quality, ruminant nutrition and rumen microbiology. Since joining the faculty in 1981, he has conducted research projects in numerous areas of interest to the beef industry, including cow-calf management and nutrition; stocker rotational grazing; finishing Holstein steers; feedlot cattle nutrition and management; vitamin E and fresh beef color stability; and cattle health and welfare. He built a research program respected across the U.S. — in academia and industry.

Although not an Extension specialist, Schaefer maintained close working relationships county Extension agents and with the Wisconsin beef industry. These relationships helped guide his research efforts to make sure they were relevant to producers. Schaefer also taught throughout his career for undergraduate, graduate and short course students.

Over the years, Schaefer gladly took on many service roles. He served as department chair for over 15 years, interim CALS associate dean for academic affairs for 16 months, faculty supervisor for the Arlington and Lancaster beef herds, and, most recently, director of the Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery facility and program for two years.