ASI Awards: Dedication to Sheep Industry
Four long-time members of the agriculture community were honored for their contributions to the sheep industry during the American Sheep Industry Association Convention in Reno, Nevada. The honorees received the awards at a Jan. 30 luncheon.
This year’s winners:
Marie Lehfeldt, of Montana, was presented the McClure Silver Ram Award, which is dedicated to volunteer commitment and service. Marie has volunteered as the National Make it With Wool Coordinator for the past 19 years. She has promoted wool fashion, wool consumption and the sheep industry on a state and national level and has worked tirelessly to promote and secure sponsorships for the Make it With Wool program. Marie is also helping raise the fifth generation on the Lehfeldt ranch in Montana, which has received national recognition for the sustainability and quality of its wool.
“I am extremely honored and appreciate being selected to receive the McClure,” said Lehfeldt. “When you look at the people working in the industry, it’s obvious there are many who are deserving.”
Don Meike, of Wyoming, earned ASI’s “Distinguished Producer Award,” an award created in 2014 and designed to honor a member of the sheep community with long-standing involvement in the industry’s history and development. Meike made waves in the ranching industry when he and his brother Peto developed an intensive shed lambing program that drastically increases lamb production over years by pairing ewes with lambs based on milk production. They developed the program after noticing some ewes could only raise a single lamb, while others could support twins and even triplets.
“We tried a lot of different things over the years to improve our operation, some work and some don’t, but I couldn’t imagine making a living any other way,” said Meike, who is retired. “It’s not an easy business, but it’s a very rewarding business.”
David Greene, of Maryland, was recognized with the Camptender Award, an award that recognizes industry contributions from a professional in a position or field related to sheep production. Greene has and continues to exhibit innovation and efficiency in lamb and wool production and marketing. He has served as a trainer, educator and facilitator of thousands of workshops and seminars on sheep management, including wool harvesting and lamb production. These events provide hands-on experience for participants in his home state of Maryland, along with the entire region and internationally. He has provided service to ASI in many ways and for many years, including committee and council work and leadership on the Executive Board.
“The entire sheep industry works together and we all learn from each other, which makes my work worthwhile and rewarding,” said Greene. “I’m very honored to be chosen for the Camptender Award.”
Sandy Whittley, of Texas, executive secretary of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, was winner of the Shepherd’s Award for Media, given to an individual or organization for outstanding yearlong support and promotion of the sheep industry. Whittley, who has worked for the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association for 50 years, has an even longer connection to sheep and wool – her dad was a Boston wool buyer.
“Because of my dad’s connection and later my mother’s working for J. M. Lea Wool Warehouse, it was ‘bred into me’ to be a part of the industry,” explained Whittley. “I want to thank ASI for honoring me and also recognizing the efforts of everyone in the industry.”