Members of the Wisconsin Jersey Breeders Association (WJBA) have one interest in common -- Registered Jersey cattle.
And though our passion is the same, our operations are diverse. We raise cattle on small farms that milk a handful of cows to large dairies with thousands of them, and everything between. Facilities are also diverse, from operations that house cattle in freestall barns and milk them in parlors to those that milk and house their cattle in tie-stall barns and graze during the summer months.
In 2019, Wisconsin Jersey breeders registered 11,914 animals with the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA), a number that ranks second in the nation for registrations behind California. Registered Jerseys are a growing commodity for the state as registrations have increased more than 60% over the past decade.
Wisconsin Jersey breeders hosted the annual meetings of the AJCA and National All-Jersey Inc. (NAJ) in 1977, 1987 and 2001. They also hosted the event at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells in 2011.
The brother-sister team of Natalie Kessenich, left center, and Wade Kessenich, center, received an AJCA Young Jersey Breeder award in 2019. They celebrated the honor with family at the annual meetings in Saratoga Springs, NY.
AJCA Director Walter Owens, right, also presented an AJCA Young Jersey Breeder award to Brent Young and his wife, Tara, at the annual meetings in 2019.
Kaila Wussow-Tauchen of Cecil was named winner of the 2017 National Jersey Youth Achievement Contest.
Jason and Leah James of Mineral Point were one of two couples from Wisconsin to receive the AJCA Young Jersey Breeder Award in 2018. They are pictured here with daughter Brenlee.
Robert and Gail Klinkner of Viroqua were the other couple to receive the AJCA Young Jersey Breeder Award in 2018. They were honored at the organization's annual meeting in Canton, OH.
Roger Reibe of Cumberland, left, was named the 14th recipient of the Max Gordon Recognition Award. He also received the Klussendorf Award at World Dairy Expo in 2016.
George M. Barlass of Janesville, second right, received the Max Gordon Recognition Award during National Jersey Jug festivities in 2011.
WJBA members are movers and shakers in the dairy industry.
Many serve key leadership roles in organizations off the farm. Many have been recognized for this service and for their achievements with Registered Jerseys.
The most recent past presidents of both the AJCA and NAJ hail from Wisconsin. Chris Sorenson of Pine Grove served as AJCA President from 2012-2018; David Endres of Lodi was NAJ President from 2009-2018. Both men were recently honored with the AJCA Distinguished Service Award at the organization's annual meeting in Canton, OH.
Other Wisconsin breeders to receive the service award were Charles S. Kelly of Hudson (1965), Harold Owens of Frederic (1997), Dr. D. L. Strandberg of Alma Center (2003) and George and Shirley Barlass of Janesville (2015).
Three Wisconsin breeders have also been honored with the AJCA Master Breeder award, including the most recent honorees, Wilfred, Walter and Roger Owens of Owens Farms Inc., Frederic. David Allen of Reedsburg earned the laurels in 2017 and Charles S. Kelly received the award in 1969.
Wisconsinites have received the national Jersey organizations' newest award, the Award for Meritorious Service, more frequently than residents of any other state. Most recently, the award was presented to Dr. Kent Weigel of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017. Other recipients include: Dr. Clarence S. Olson, Madison (2006); David Brandau of Wilton (2011); Dr. Robert Cropp and Dr. Edward Jesse of Madison (2013); and Richard Smith of Waunakee (2014).
Twenty-seven Wisconsin Jersey breeders have received the AJCA Young Jersey Breeder Award since it was first given in 1976. The most recent recipients are Natalie and Wade Kessenich of De Forest and Brent Young of Dallas, who earned laurels in 2019.
Junior breeders from Wisconsin have also fared well in youth competitions. Five have won the National Jersey Youth Achievement Contest. Recent National Jersey Queens include Sydney Endres, Lodi, who won the contest in 2013 and Cassandra Krull, Lake Mills, who was crowned in 2011 and also topped the National Jersey Youth Achievement Contest in 2012.
Wisconsin Jersey breeders have also been recognized outside the Jersey world. The National Dairy Shrine honored Marion Barlass of Janesville with the Woman of the Year award in 2008. The organization named Andy and Lynnette Buttles, Lancaster, as Progressive Dairy Managers in the large herd division in 2010.
At World Dairy Expo, Roger Riebe of Cumberland, received the highest showmanship award -- the Klussendorf Memorial Trophy -- in 2016. Mark Rueth, Oxford, earned the award in 2010.