WPVGA Presents Annual Industry Awards
In addition to its annual Hall of Fame induction, the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) presented several other annual industry awards at a banquet on February 9, 2022 at Stevens Point.
John D. (“JD”) Schroeder of Schroeder Brothers Farms, Antigo, Wisconsin, was named WPVGA Volunteer of the Year. One of the largest producers of Frito-Lay seed potatoes in the country, Schroeder Brothers Farms grows 2,250 acres of certified seed potatoes.
Schroeder graduated from Antigo High School in 2004 and then attended the University of Wisconsin (UW) at Madison, graduating in 2008 with a double major in farm business management and political science. He earned a law degree in 2011 from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. He returned to work on the family farm seven years ago.
Schroeder is currently a director of the WPVGA Board of Directors and has just completed a five-year term on the Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association Board of Directors, including serving as President in 2021. He serves on the Board of Directors of the United Potato Growers of Wisconsin and served on the United Potato Growers Council of America. He also sits on the WPVGA’s Water Task Force and the Government Affairs, SpudPro, and Research Committees.
He is currently vice president of the Antigo Unified School District, treasurer of the Antigo branch of the UW-Madison Alumni Club, and a member of the board of directors of the Community Health Foundation.
This year’s WPVGA Young Producer of the Year award goes to Wendy Alsum-Dykstra, chief operating officer of Alsum Farms & Produce, Inc., located in Friesland, Wisconsin, who raises 2,800 acres of healthy roux , red, white, gold, purple. and fingerling potatoes.
Dykstra, who has been in his current role for 11 years, followed in his father Larry’s footsteps, going to accounting school and earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in professional accounting from UW-Whitewater.
Dykstra sits on the WPVGA Board of Directors and is a member of the Promotion Committee. She also serves on the Potatoes USA Board of Directors and has served on the Financial and Business Affairs Committee of the National Potato Council since 2020. She graduated from the Potato Industry Leadership Institute in 2019. Dykstra was a recipient of the Produce Award Business 40 under 40 in 2019 and received the WPVGA President’s Award in 2015.
The WPVGA Researcher of the Year Award went to Amber Walker. A 2008 graduate of UW-Oshkosh, Walker is the director of the Storage Research Facility (SRF) at Hancock Agricultural Research Station. In her current position, she facilitates research and assists station users with field and storage projects, provides oversight of laboratory testing services, performs observations, and performs daily maintenance of the SRF.
She is an integral part of research for the potato industry as well as UW faculty. Walker is responsible for potato quality testing, which includes checking samples for sugar levels. Monitoring sugar levels in stored potatoes is essential because high levels of certain sugars are responsible for the undesirable dark color of fried products. She is also an unbiased evaluator for diseased or otherwise compromised potatoes.
Walker is passionate about addressing community hunger, which is especially critical during this time of widespread food insecurity brought on by the COVID pandemic. As current chair of the Food Connections committee, she often works nights and weekends at local food pantries to ensure people have access to adequate nutritious foods.
The WPVGA Associate Division Businessman of the Year Award went to Rich Wilcox, Vice President of Agriculture and Corporate Banking Officer for First State Bank Branch in Stevens Point. Having joined First State Bank in 2020, Wilcox says he specializes in “all things agricultural.”
“Farming seems to be what I know and what caught my interest,” says Wilcox. “I love working with farmers of all kinds, but it’s the potato growers I started working with many years ago who still hold a special place in my heart.”
Wilcox has been an outstanding volunteer for the WPVGA Associate Division Board of Directors, serving as Treasurer for the past four years. He also sits on the Spud Bowl committee and has helped fundraise as well as organize and coordinate the annual Spud Bowl event at Stevens Point.
Dan Mahoney received the Agri-Communicator Award for excellence in communication and his dedication to presenting a positive message about the agriculture industry.
Mahoney grew up in Menasha, Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1981 with degrees in biology and education. From 1998 to 1999 he served as Plover Village Administrator, a role he resumed in 2003.
For the past few years, he has worked tirelessly leading the Little Plover River Watershed Improvement Project, which has proven to be an exceptional asset to the community of Plover and surrounding area as well as to the agriculture set. Mahoney has done a tremendous job bringing diverse stakeholders to the table and fostering a spirit of collaboration that has produced positive results for everyone involved.
Mahoney retired as Administrator of the Village of Plover on February 4, 2022.
Although he was unable to attend the banquet, 2021 WPVGA Board Chairman Bill Guenthner of Guenthner Farms Inc., Antigo presented the Chairman’s Award to his wife, Jolene Guenthner, for her faithful support, advice and love.
Special WPVGA Industry Appreciation Awards were presented to UW Department of Plant Pathology professors Ann MacGuidwin and Doug Rouse, who have each provided invaluable research, discovery, advice and results to growers. WPVGA over the years.
A third Industry Appreciation Award was presented to WPVGA Director of Promotions, Communications and Consumer Education, Dana Rady, who celebrates 10 years of service in 2022. Her main duties include the promotional program and communication activities, as well as liaison with the vegetable and chips program. Committees.
Along with Rady’s role at the WPVGA, she is also the director of the United Potato Growers Cooperative of Wisconsin, a sister organization of the WPVGA that collects and distributes potato production data to its members based on supply. and market demand.
WPVGA Executive Director Tamas Houlihan presented Rady with the Industry Appreciation Award in recognition of 10 years of service and outstanding contributions to the Wisconsin potato and vegetable industry.