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DENVER, Colo. - Jan. 30, 2009 - Five U.S. sheep producers were newly elected to the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) Executive Board at the 2009 ASI/National Lamb Feeders Association Convention in San Diego, Calif., on Jan. 24, 2009.
Bob Benson, Noblesville, Ind., was elected to represent ASI's Region III, comprised of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Benson has been in the sheep industry for 36 years. Currently, Benson has a farm flock of Shropshire breeding ewes at his home in the suburban area north of Indianapolis, Ind.
A longtime supporter of the sheep industry at the county, state and national levels, Benson has served on the ASI Legislative Action Council, the By-Laws Committee, Financial Review Committee and Nominating Committee. He is also active in the Indiana Sheep Association.
"First of all I want to be of service to the industry and to build on the sound foundation already in place," says Benson of his election to the ASI Executive Board. "Secondly, I would like to help develop ways to keep Wildlife Services an effective agency for the benefit of this industry as well as the country."
Tom Colyer, Hubbardston, Mass., was elected to represent ASI's Region I, comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
Colyer and wife, Andrea, have a Merino sheep operation, raising both natural colored and black Merinos for high-end Merino yarns sold off the farm. Colyer has been in the sheep business for 23 years.
Colyer served on the ASI Wool Council and has served as president of the Massachusetts Federation of Sheep Associations for 15 years.
"In the time that I have represented Massachusetts in Region I, I've gotten to know most of the directors that come to convention and have talked with most of them and shared ideas," says Colyer of his future contributions to the ASI Executive Board. "I think the No. 1 thing is to use my skills in communications to try to increase interest in ASI participation by the producers in Region I."
Will Getz, Ph.D., Fort Valley, Ga., was elected to represent ASI's Region II, comprised of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
Getz has been in the sheep industry his whole life. Currently, he is the manager and shepherd of a 150-head flock of commercial ewes of both wool and hair sheep genetics as a part of the Georgia Small Ruminant Research and Extension Center on the campus of Fort Valley State University.
Getz has been a supporter of the sheep industry at all levels, serving on the ASI Goat Committee, the Production, Education and Research Council and, recently, the Nominating Committee. In addition, he is past president of the Georgia Sheep and Wool Growers Association.
"My purpose in agreeing to become part of the board is that Region II, with its numerous small flocks, would have a somewhat experienced voice in the various policy and programmatic decisions and recommendations of ASI," says Getz of his election to the ASI Executive Board. "My region continues to show a net increase in the number of sheep, which provides ASI with potential for further expansion through viable state organizations."
Gary McGehee, Mertzon, Texas, was elected to represent ASI's Region V, which consists of Texas.
McGehee and wife, Carolyn, currently run a diversified ranch running 300 Rambouillet ewes, Spanish goats, black Angus cattle and a hunting operation on 4,000 acres.
McGehee has previously served on the ASI Legislative Action Council. He is also past president of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers' Association.
"I really feel like you get out of something what you put into it," says McGehee of his election to the ASI Executive Board. "To secure agriculture, we are going to have to be involved, and by being involved with ASI, I am more in touch with people and have something to back me when trying to accomplish things for the good of the industry."
Art Swannack, Lamont, Wash., was elected to represent ASI's Region VIII, comprised of California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.
Swannack, wife Jill and children Carmen, Leah and Owen operate a wheat, hay and sheep operation, running about 1,000 head of mainly Polypay ewes.
Swannack has been the ASI director for the Washington State Sheep Producers for six years and has served on the ASI Lamb Council and, most recently, the ASI Legislative Action Council.
"I have had six years of experience as a representative to ASI from Washington state, and I thought I had the experience to help with decisions," says Swannack of his election to the ASI Executive Board. "The first year will be learning, but I basically hope to help lead the councils and committees I am involved with to do a good job for the producers."
Burton Pfliger of Bismarck, N.D., was re-elected to serve as the Region IV representative to the ASI Executive Board for another two-year term.