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DENVER, Colo. - 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, Tenn.
Joseph 'Joe' Harper of Seneca Rocks, W.Va., 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. He has served nine years on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Wildlife Service Advisory Committee as a representative of the sheep industry and led support for a self-help predator control program in West Virginia which took effect in 2005. 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, Minn., 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 three-generation tradition of commercial sheep production, Kim Aagard of Moroni, Utah, 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 that 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, Texas, is a full-time agriculture writer for the Livestock Weekly newspaper based out of San Angelo, Texas. Shreiber has written articles on sheep operations located across the western United States 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.
ASI is a national trade organization supported by 45 state sheep associations, benefiting the interests of more than 82,000 sheep producers.