ASI honors industry award recipients at 2010 convention

Feb 5, 2010
by WLJ

Outstanding U.S. sheep industry members were honored for their contributions to the industry at an awards luncheon held Jan. 22, 2010, at the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI)/National Lamb Feeders Association Convention in Nashville, TN.

Joseph “Joe” Harper of Seneca Rocks, WV, received a standing ovation as he accepted the McClure Silver Ram Award for his lifetime of achievement and dedication in and for the U.S. sheep industry. An eighth-generation family farmer, Harper has built his flock to 400 ewes, operated a lamb feedlot, became a wool buyer in the area, and has utilized a number of innovations in marketing, breeding and predator control.

Harper was an original member of the American Lamb Board from 2002 to 2005 and served a second term from 2006 to 2008. He is active in the American Farm Bureau, both nationally and in the state, and chaired the organization’s Sheep Advisory Committee for two terms. One of his successful projects as chair was the effort to couple yield grades and quality grades in the USDA grading system. And in 2006, West Virginia University presented Harper with the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences.

In his acceptance speech, Harper thanked all his family and fellow sheep industry members for the years of support, saying, “I am happy to be a part of an industry full of God-fearing, patriotic Americans.”

The Camptender Award was presented to Richard “Dick” Boniface of Cedar, MN, for his contribution to the U.S. wool industry. Boniface began his wool marketing career at the North Central Wool Marketing Regional Co-op, in which he was a wool buyer and supervisor of field staff. During his time there, he originated the grade and yield method of marketing wool, making it possible to sell wool on a quality basis on the current market. In addition, he implemented and helped operate the wool testing lab.

Boniface also helped organize the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Association. From 1997 to 2008, Boniface and his wife, Juanita, were program coordinators for the Minnesota Foundation for Responsible Animal Care and gave leadership to designing and implementing Minnesota’s Livestock Quality Assurance and Ethics Program for young producers, a program which now reaches 40,000 youth in the Minnesota 4-H program.

Acknowledging he had been given a great honor, Boniface said while accepting his award, “It’s not a job that is going to make you a millionaire, but I got rich in another way. Over the years, I have worked with thousands of producers, and it has been truly rewarding.”

A lifelong sheep producer who has carried on a threegeneration tradition of commercial sheep production, Kim Aagard of Moroni, UT, was the recipient of the Environmental Stewardship Award. Aagard has a Rambouillet ewe flock which he grazes on a rotational basis over 5,000-plus acres in northern Utah. His rotational grazing has resulted in significant increased carrying capacity while improving lamb quality. He has spent much of his life working on weed and brush control on his summer range and has done a remarkable job of developing new plant species that are highly nutritious for sheep while eliminating large quantities of undesirable brush and noxious weeds. In addition, Aagard has developed significant water sources as well as installing a large distribution system that naturally keeps the sheep in various grazing patterns, minimizing overgrazing.

Tom Boyer of Utah, Aagard’s nominator, said he is a true environmental professional and model for those who are concerned about how sheep producers care for the environment.

Receiving the Shepherd’s Voice for Media, Colleen Shreiber of Austin, TX, is a full-time agriculture writer for the Livestock Weekly newspaper based out of San Angelo, TX. Shreiber has written articles on sheep operations located across the western U.S., providing a vivid description of the ranch families engaged in lamb and wool production. She is known for her ability to provide in-depth details of any meeting so that those who are unable to attend can fully understand the issues.

Her nominator, the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association, said in her nomination that it’s obvious that Shreiber loves what she does and thoroughly enjoys the people for whom she does her work—the commercial sheep and cattle producers.

Wool Excellence Awards given at ASI Convention

Fred Campbell of Paint Rock, TX, and Jim Walters of McMinnville, OR, were this year’s two deserving recipients of this industry award.

Campbell has a lifetime of experience in the sheep and goat industries. He is recognized as a visionary in the development of better techniques for growing, preparing and marketing wool and mohair. His long career in

the sheep industry began after he graduated from Texas A&M University. In the 1950s, he served as county extension agent, earned a master’s degree in wool science, and worked at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station near Sonora where he was responsible for the ram performance testing program as well as other breeding experiments. As manager of Sonora Wool and Mohair Co., Campbell refined the wool grading program so that it included fleece skirting in the shearing pen. Campbell has traveled to South Africa, Australia and other parts of the world to encourage wool and mohair sales and use. His vast knowledge and tireless efforts have earned him numerous honors and the respect of his peers.

Glen Fisher, ASI president, presented the award to Campbell and said, “I think he has done everything for the sheep and wool industry, not just in Texas, but the whole United States. Whatever he did was for the benefit of the industry, not for the benefit of Fred Campbell.” Fisher

was just one of many speakers to praise Campbell during the luncheon.

“Fred has always exhibited integrity and vision and leadership,” said Ron Pope, Producers Marketing Cooperative Inc., Texas. “Growers are continuing to reap the benefits of his work.”

After serving in the U.S.

Army during World War II, Jim Walters returned to Oregon to finish his college education. He was hired by Pendleton Woolen Mills in December 1949 to work at the Washougal, WA, plant. After a few years, Walters was promoted to wool department manager. He was instrumental in developing new wool sources for manufacturing Pendleton products. Walters was a big supporter of the ASI classing and skirting programs. He encouraged all U.S. wool growers to use this method of wool preparation and supported the U.S. Wool Marketing Association sales during his tenure. After a 49-year run, Walters retired in January 1988 to spend time with his wife, Kay, and grandkids.

Presenting the award to Walters, Dan Gutzman, wool department manager, Pendleton Woolen Mills, said that he has been a mentor and friend to many and had a significant impact on the quality of the U.S. wool clip. Mike Corn, Roswell Wool, one of several speakers who spoke to Walters’ accomplishments, echoed those sentiments, “I remember as a kid, at wool sales they would ask if ‘Mr. Pendleton’ was there. That’s what they called you— a lot of them also referred to you as a gentleman.”

“Jim Walters was the first to want bellies out, skirting of fleeces and black fiber out and helped change our wool handling. He helped the Kourlis Ranch stay in business, and I tip my hat to you, Jim,” said Tom Kourlis, Kourlis Ranch, CO.

“This award was developed to recognize the leaders that made a lasting impact on the U.S. wool industry and paved the way for those in the industry today,” explains Rita Kourlis Samuelson, ASI wool marketing director. “These two recipients are truly two icons of the wool business and we give thanks for their years of leadership.” — WLJ