Holstein Association USA recognized influential breeders and farms for their contributions to the Holstein breed at the 2015 National Holstein Convention, held in St. Charles, Illinois, June 23 through 26.
Recognized at the closing banquet on June 26 were:
Distinguished Young Holstein Breeder
Joel Mills of Millwork Holsteins in Thompsontown, Pennsylvania, was honored as Holstein Association USA’s 2015 Distinguished Young Holstein Breeder. This award is given annually to a Holstein Association USA member or partnership between the ages of 21 and 40. It recognizes the significant accomplishments of young Registered Holstein breeders, and their commitment to preserving the dairy industry and achieving excellence in their daily lives. Honorees receive paid travel and lodging expenses to the National Holstein Convention and a $2,000 cash award.
Joel, his wife, Sara, and their three children milk 115 Registered Holsteins on their Juniata County dairy farm. Neither Joel nor Sara grew up on a dairy farm, but with teamwork and dedication, they bought a farm eight years ago and have built an excellent herd of Holsteins. The herd has a rolling herd average of 23,620 pounds of milk, 924 pounds of fat, and 726 pounds of protein, milked 2X.
The Millses use Holstein’s Tag ID and EASY ID and are on Holstein COMPLETE. They also classify in the Limited program, and at their last classification added another Excellent cow, giving them seven Excellents, and 14 Very Good cows, bringing that total to 40. Last year for the first time, they had two homebred Excellents. They have won the Progressive Genetic Herd Award for five years.
Elite Breeder Honoree
Recognized as the 2015 Elite Breeder was Conant Acres of Canton, Maine. The Elite Breeder award annually honors a Holstein Association USA member or partnership who has bred high-quality Registered Holstein cattle, contributing to the overall improved quality of the breed.
Duane and Betty Conant began building a herd of Registered Holsteins when they took over the family business in 1970. Over the years, they have won many awards, including National Dairy Shrine Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder Award in 2009, as well as the 1993 Dairy Industry Leader Award and the 1999 Distinguished Breeder Award from the Maine Dairy Shrine, and the Master Breeder Award from the New England Holstein Association in 1995. They have won the Progressive Genetics Award for 24 years, and Progressive Breeder Registry Award for seven years.
Today there are four generations on the farm. Duane and Betty’s children, Dennis and Debbie, along with Debbie’s husband, Steve Keene, are all actively involved. Dennis, who is married to Heidi, joined the farm in 1982. Debbie and Steve developed their own herd, Dirigo Holsteins, before merging with Conant Acres in 2003. Now the third generation has joined them. Matt Sneller, husband of Debbie and Steve’s daughter Natalie, works on the farm full-time, as does Sarah Keene, wife of son Brian.
Distinguished Leadership Award
Duane Green of Elsie, Michigan, was presented the 2015 Distinguished Leadership award. This award is given annually to an individual who has provided outstanding and unselfish leadership to the Holstein Association or dairy industry as a whole.
Duane served as a director of Holstein Association USA from 1974 to 1983 and served two years as president. He was a charter member of the Holstein Foundation in 1989, serving as its chairman for its first eight years and helping to develop and launch the Young Dairy Leaders Institute.
Duane’s father, Merle Green, started Green Meadow Farm in 1922 and in 1954, Duane went into partnership in the dairy with his brother, Velmar. Today, it has 9,500 animals, most of them Holsteins. Along with his father and brother, Duane was named the 1980 Outstanding Dairyman by Michigan State University. He and Velmar, who worked closely together for many years, were named Master Breeders in 1948 by the Michigan Holstein Association. In 2008, Duane’s family sold its share in the farm to Velmar’s family.