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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Three long-time members of the agriculture community and one media organization were honored for their contributions to the sheep industry during the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI)/National Lamb Feeders Association Convention, held Jan. 22-25 in Charleston, S.C. The honorees received the awards at a Jan. 24 luncheon that featured the introduction of a new award - the "Distinguished Producer Award." This award was created as part of ASI's 150th anniversary, which will be celebrated at next year's convention in Reno, Nev.
"Each recipient of this year's ASI awards represents some of the best and most dedicated the sheep industry has to offer, and they have each have had a positive impact on our business," said Clint Krebs, president of the ASI Board of Directors.
This year's winners:
Pierce Miller, of San Angelo, Texas, was presented the McClure Silver Ram Award, which is dedicated to volunteer commitment and service. Miller, known for his industry knowledge and helpful nature, has been a leader at the regional, state and national levels. He has been sheep ranching full-time since 1981 and he has held leadership roles with ASI, the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers' Association, the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, Mohair Council of America and the American Goat Federation.
"I'm honored to be chosen for the McClure, because really there are a lot of worthy people out there who deserve it," said Miller. "It's a tight-knit industry, so it's nice to know others feel I am deserving."
Farrell Wankier, Jr., of Salt Lake City, Utah, earned ASI's first-ever "Distinguished Producer Award," an award designed to honor a member of the sheep community with long-standing involvement in the industry's history and development. Wankier, Jr. began his sheep producing career in the late 1930s, when he and his father traveled to Idaho and brought back the family's first Suffolk sheep in a two-wheeled trailer pulled by a Model A car. In 1959, Wankier became the assistant executive secretary for the National Wool Growers Association, a predecessor to ASI. Among Wankier's roles were ram sales, publishing the organization's magazine and traveling tirelessly acting as an advocate for the sheep industry.
"After many years, I can say that things are a lot different for producers these days, of course, but one thing is the same, and that is the sheep still play the most important role in what a producer does every single day," said Wankier.
Noelle Cockett, Ph.D., Director of Utah State University's Agricultural Experiment Station, was recognized with the Camptender Award, an award that recognizes industry contributions from a professional in a position or field related to sheep production. Cockett is known for her work on the Sheep Genome project. The outcome of her project, "Assembly of the Ovine Whole Genome Reference Sequence," will accelerate genetic research in sheep and other ruminant animals and will pay big dividends to the future of sheep production globally. Cockett has served as the U.S. coordinator for the sheep gene mapping project since 1993 working with numerous foreign countries on sheep research admirably representing the U.S. sheep industry in these international venues.
Tri-State Livestock News, based in Belle Fourche, S. D., was winner of the Shepherd's Award for Media, given to an organization for outstanding yearlong coverage of the sheep industry in either print or broadcast. Tri-State regularly and consistently provides market information, industry meeting round-ups and covers predator problems and solutions to personal accounts of sheep breeders, feeders, shearers and herders. Tri-State writers regularly contact the industry in search of the most accurate and industry-minded information from those who are "in the trenches" providing fair, relevant and well-balanced stories.
ASI, based in Englewood, Colorado, is a national trade organization supported by 46 state sheep associations, benefiting the interests of more than 81,000 sheep producers.
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