Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

CALS to Honor Exemplary Leaders During Awards Banquet

Five outstanding professionals will be honored by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall. The school announced it will present its Honorary Recognition Award to Ben Brancel, Bernard Easterday and Richard ‘Otto’ Wiegand; with Gary Onan earning the CALS Distinguished Alumni award; and Daryl Lund getting Distinguished Service honors. Each will be recognized during a special ceremony on October 13.

Brancel began his career in agriculture on his family farm. In 1972, he graduated with a degree in animal science from the University Wisconsin-Platteville, and returned to the farm where he and his wife Gail would eventually take over operations. From 1987 to 1997, he demonstrated his political dexterity in the Wisconsin State Assembly and was later elected to the respected position of Assembly Speaker. Since 1997, when he was appointed the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection by then Governor Tommy Thompson, he has held positions that allowed him to directly grow the industry responsible for his lifetime of success, including a position with the CALS’ Agricultural Research Stations and his current role as Secretary of DATCP under Gov. Scott Walker.

Easterday is the founding dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the UW-Madison. After receiving his DVM degree from Michigan State University in 1952, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps where he conducted research on the transmission and pathogenesis of viral diseases of animals and humans. Following the completion of his military service, he earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Veterinary Science in the UW-Madison College of Agriculture. He returned to the same department in 1961 as a faculty member, continuing research on viral diseases while discovering his passion for teaching and outreach. At UW-Madison, Easterday conducted and collaborated on multiple studies involving the interspecies transmission of viruses, which included uncovering the first conclusive evidence of swine influenza virus transmission from swine to humans. In 1978, he was appointed to lead the planning and development of the SVM, which was officially established in 1979. Easterday, as emeritus dean and professor, continues to serve as an advisor and mentor to veterinary medical students.

Wiegand was born on a dairy farm in Cleveland in Manitowoc County, which he later operated in the 1980s. He attained four degrees over time, three of them in dairy science from UW-Madison. He worked in industry doing dairy employee placement and dairy expansion business planning for eight years before spending time teaching agriculture courses at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay as an adjunct instructor. Wiegand has been working for UW-Extension as an agriculture agent in Spooner for the past 12 years. His career has taken him around the world, starting in the Peace Corps in Kenya and Paraguay, conducting graduate studies in Ethiopia, consulting at the African Development Bank in Ivory Coast, and doing various international agricultural work, mostly with Farmer-to-Farmer projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Wiegand has been to 75 countries and worked in 20 of them.

Onan earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in meat and animal science at the UW-Madison. After graduating, he pursued his dream of becoming a dairy farmer and spent nearly 20 years developing a respected Holstein herd and hands-on knowledge. Following the advice of his colleagues, Onan decided to harness his academic training and seek out a position in academia. He joined the UW-River Falls in 1997, where he quickly came to be known for his creativity and inherent knack for teaching. He currently serves as chair and professor of animal and food science in the university’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences. Onan has received numerous awards over the years that recognize his efforts as a professor, mentor and researcher and for his contributions to youth livestock project programming and animal agriculture. Most recently, he was named the UW-River Falls 2015 Distinguished Teacher.

Lund received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics before earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. in food science with a minor in chemical engineering at the UW-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He began teaching in the food science department in 1967 and remained a faculty member for the next 20 years, serving as chair of the department in 1984. In CALS, he served on numerous committees including as chair of the Business and Industry option for several years. At the university level, he served as chair of the Biological Sciences Divisional Committee. In the late 80s, he led the pioneering effort to renovate Babcock Hall through the use of private sector donations. Lund also served two other land grant universities–Rutgers from 1988-1995 and Cornell between 1995-2000–where he was a professor, chair, and dean. Lund followed his heart back to Madison where he served as the executive director of the North Central Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors until his retirement in 2007.

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