March 15, 2004
Mar/Apr 2004 -- After a six-year absence, the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) re-instated the tradition of an annual awards ceremony at its 2004 national convention in Sacramento.
Winners were recognized on Jan. 23, 2004, during a joint luncheon sponsored by ASI and the National Lamb Feeders Association.
Roger Thacker of Versailles, Ky., a 30-year member of ASI and the Kentucky Sheep and Wool Producers Association, received the McClure Silver Ram Award in recognition of his substantial contributions to the U.S. sheep industry.
"His diligence and dedication to resource management and environmental issues are legendary," stated ASI President Guy Flora during the awards ceremony. "Roger read the Federal Register almost daily for 11 years, pulling together notices that could impact the sheep industry and forwarding those notices to the appropriate people."
Thacker succeeded in getting sheep and goats included in funding opportunities from the Kentucky Agriculture Development Board. In 1996, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture dedicated its Sheep Profit Day to him, as thanks for Thacker's many contributions to the state's sheep industry.
Dr. Joseph Rook of Holt, Mich., received the Flock Guardian Award, which recognizes an individual for outstanding management of resources in the enhancement of flock management.
Rook has performed numerous studies, including those related to lamb mortality in both shed- and pasture-lambing operations; the promotion of extended seasonal grazing with the use of alternative forages; and the procurement of seed for yield and forage analysis, just to name a few.
"This past year he designed a program to look at the internal parasite problems in grazing operations," said Flora. "He has traveled extensively and his articles have been printed in many sheep publications."
Ron Cole of Fort Collins, Colo., received the Camptender Award, which recognizes industry contributions from a professional in a position or field related to the sheep industry and its organizations.
"It was noted in Ron's nomination that he provides excellent, unbiased information on sheep markets - regardless of the size of an operator's farm or ranch - and that he has a sincere interest for the betterment of the industry," said Flora in his introduction of Ron. "It is a general practice for Ron to attend various state functions to obtain more insight into the area markets as well as to become better acquainted with the growers."
Al Gustin of Mandan, N.D., was the winner of the 2004 Shepherd's Voice Broadcast Media Award for his outstanding, year-long broadcast coverage of the U.S. sheep industry.
It was noted in Gustin's nomination that he continued to report on the sheep industry when other media were eliminating their coverage of it, and that he has maintained a strong commitment to balanced reporting - providing consistent coverage of the sheep industry locally, statewide and into a five-state area.
"He reports on all aspects of the industry, not just the markets, and remains in constant contact with grassroots people as he deals with the current issues of the industry," said Flora, prior to the presentation of Gustin's award.
The fifth and final award, the Environmental Stewardship Award, was presented to Susan Shultz of Degraff, Ohio, who accepted it on behalf of her husband Bill.
The Shultzs have owned and operated Bunker Hill Farm since 1910, on which they have implemented many conservation practices to improve and protect the land. Just a few of these practices include the use of no-till and conservation-tillage methods, fencing that allows for modified intensive grazing and maximization of forage potential and a riparian buffer that protects water and the river corridor.
The Environmental Stewardship Award recognizes individuals actively involved in sheep production who have shown an extraordinary commitment to caring for natural resources and enhancing the environment.
Stated ASI President Guy Flora of the event, "I was encouraged by the enthusiasm from industry members as they nominated deserving candidates for the five award categories.
"The ASI award selection committee had the difficult task of choosing a winner in each area," he added. "We definitely feel that all of this year's recipients are well deserving of their respective awards."