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Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Name 2018 Honorees
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 05/15/2018

Supporters and friends of the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative have been recognized by the group with its annual awards.

During the WSBC annual meeting, Bernie O'Rourke, University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension Youth Livestock Specialist, and her husband, Ron Patterson, who is an agriculture sales manager for GLC Minerals, were presented with the Cooperative Award. O'Rourke had been instrumental in both the creation and implementation of the Youth Sweepstakes at the annual Sheep & Wool Festival, helping to score and officiate in a program that involves over 200 youth each year in twelve areas of competition. She has also officiated the Youth Judging Contest at Jefferson and been a part of the youth programming at almost every Arlington Sheep Day. Patterson took a lead role in developing the computerized clerking program for the festival fleece shows and sales, and has scored the Youth Judging Contest and overall Youth Sweepstakes programs. He has also clerked every Badger Production Sale, along with national sheep sales held at Arlington and redesigned the US Targhee Sheep Association registry database.

National Sheep Improvement Program Program Director Rusty Burgett is the receipient of the Sheep Industry Award. A graduate of Ohio State University, Rusty did his graduate work at UW-Madison and later become the manager of the Spooner Sheep Research Station. He travels the country educating producers and industry stakeholders, spending an appreciable amount of time in Wisconsin.

Dr. Jeff Held was award the Art Pope Award for his active involvement within and exceptional service to the industry over many years. An Extension sheep specialist with South Dakota State University, has been a presenter at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival, has judged the Wisconsin State Fair and most recently judged the All-American Junior Show held in Madison in 2017.

Alf Hampshires were presented with one of the Master Shephard Awards. Jill and her children, John, Jordan, and Jessica, purchased their first Hampshire ewes from Springdale Farms of Belvidere, IL. Since then, the focus of the family's breeding program has been on producing attractive profiling, complete sheep with the kind of breed character known to the Hampshire breed. Jill has been employed as the Executive Secretary for the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative for over 17 years and as the executive director of the Wisconsin Livestock Breeders Association for nine years.

And Kathryn Ashley-Wright of La Farge was also presented with the Master Shepherd award. She bought a farm in 2009 and then purchased the local yarn shop in Viroqua, renaming it Ewetopia and focusing mainly on dyeing of product for resale. Kathryn focuses her product line on raw fiber from local producers. She has developed a product line called Origins, a breed specific yarn and fiber subscription service where on a bi-monthly basis, a subscriber receives samples of locally produced, breed-specific yarns and roving that she has created. Currently she is processing an average of a few hundred pounds of washed fiber every month and travels the country with Ewetopia.

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