|ASI Recognizes Award Recipients
By AMY TRINIDAD
Sheep Industry News Editor
(March 1, 2009) Outstanding U.S. sheep industry members were honored for their contributions to the industry at an awards luncheon held Jan. 23, 2009, at the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI)/National Lamb Feeders Association (NLFA) Convention in San Diego, Calif.
Burrows ‘Pep’ Hamilton from Rio Vista, Calif., received a standing ovation as he accepted the McClure Silver Ram Award for being one of the true anchors of the U.S. sheep industry and demonstrating a life-long commitment to the organizations that provide the leadership for its survival.
Hamilton has been one of the most progressive sheep producers in the western United States for several years, offering experience and knowledge built by years of hard work and dedication. He has always entertained new concepts in order to increase production efficiency and was one of the first to embrace the use of prolific genetics in a western range operation as a way to increase pounds of lamb weaned per ewe. He has always been willing to try new innovations in cooperation with university researchers to find better and more efficient ways of producing food and fiber. His involvement includes the development of a blue tongue vaccine, vibrio abortion vaccine research, control of epididymitis in rams, lamb mortality studies, foot rot control program and many others. His operation, Hamilton Brothers Livestock, plays host to ranch tours and educational seminars for many agriculture groups. Attendees are always fascinated with the turn-key operation that Hamilton has succeeded in developing. He has served on numerous industry boards including the ASI Executive Board, the California Sheep Commission and the California Wool Growers Association.
As Rob Rutherford, Ph.D., professor at California Polytechnic State University, stated in his nomination letter, “Pep is one of those unsung heroes of the sheep industry who has quietly shaped one of the most progressive sheep operations in this major sheep state (California), while at the same time, spending countless hours serving in various capacities at local, state and national levels of the organization.”
The Camptender Award was presented to Les Oesterreich of Davis, Calif., for his work to put American lamb at the center of the plate in the United States. Oesterreich joined Superior Farms in 1981 as its general manager, now serving as the chief executive officer. His involvement in some of the industry’s important initiatives has undeniably made a lasting impact. He was a major contributor to re-establishing the national lamb checkoff in 1996 and played an integral role in the exploration team that created the existing program and was a major player in developing the current grading standards for lamb. He is a true champion for the sheep industry, always putting his best efforts forward to ensure that the business and the industry will grow and prosper for many years to come.
Craig Morris, deputy administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Livestock and Seed Program, said in his nomination about Oesterreich, “His lifetime of service to the industry is multiplied by his willingness to work with the government and offer his expertise toward marketing innovations that expand profitability of sheep farmers and packers in the United States.”
In his acceptance speech, Oesterreich said he was proud to be one of the few packers to be recognized by the industry.
Rodney Kott, Ph.D., of Bozeman, Mont., was awarded the ASI Flock Guardian Award for his almost 30 years of implementing sheep and wool educational programs throughout Montana as the Montana State University extension sheep specialist. In many instances, Kott has been the standard bearer in establishing extension programs that are timely, relevant and of high value to individual sheep producers and the agriculture community. He reinvigorated the Montana wool pools so that they may participate in a global market, was instrumental in the development and continuing evolution of the National Sheep Improvement Program and the Montana Sheep Institute and most recently, his outreach has emphasized the use of sheep for vegetative management of large infestations of non-native invasive weeds in Montana.
One of his nominators, Douglas Steele, vice provost and director of the Montana State University Extension, said that Kott has the unique ability to take research-based knowledge and put it to practical use for sheep producers in Montana and the West.
In his acceptance remarks, the humble Kott thanked his colleagues for the many years of support and claimed the award as one of his “prized possessions.”
The owners of Lambshire Polypays in Shreve, Ohio, John and Jim Anderson, were the recipients of the Environmental Stewardship Award for their stewardship goals of preserving the forests and natural beauty of their farm while developing a relatively low input forage base that enhances the health of the sheep flock, soil and water. This father-and-son team, whose families have an environmental goal of year-by-year improvements in soil quality, erosion control, wildlife habitat and overall farm health, have spent a great deal of time, money and effort to develop their sheep operation with environmental stewardship in mind. They carefully plan ahead to assure that any management practices implemented on their farm will be environmentally sound.
The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, one of their nominators, said that the Andersons believe that if they can do their part to protect the land and the environment around them, these resources will be around for the many generations to come.
Winning the Shepherd’s Voice Award for Broadcast Media was Diane Peavey from Hailey, Idaho. Not only is Peavey a sheep producer but also an author and writer whose stories about the life of ranchers have received wide recognition. Many of her pieces air weekly on Idaho Public Radio and are collected in her book, “Bitterbrush Country: Living on the edge of the land.” In addition, her writings have appeared in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies. Peavey is also co-founder of the annual “Trailing of the Sheep Festival” in Ketchum, Idaho. As her nominator, the Idaho Wool Growers Association said that Peavey’s work represents the sheep industry as a respected and well-thought-of industry.
As she accepted the award, Peavey shared one of her short stories about the hardships sheep producers go through to protect their flocks from wolf predation and commented that many of her stories depict how sheep producers survive on the land.
Receiving the Shepherd’s Voice for Print Media was Ron Daines of Logan, Utah. Daines is the former editor of the Utah Western Farmer Magazine where he covered sheep-related topics on a regular basis. He now serves as a freelance author and the communications specialist for Western Sustainable Agriculture where he continues to cover sheep topics. The ASI Targeted Grazing Handbook is a tribute to not only his editing skills but also his photography skills. Daines regularly attends sheep-related functions where he keeps producers updated and informed as to the news and events taking place.
Daines said as he accepted his award, “I am honored to participate in the many industry conventions and enjoy working with the people of the industry.”