FORT ATKINSIN, Wis. — Four individuals are being honored with National Dairy Shrine’s Pioneer Award this year in recognition of their significant contributions to the dairy industry. This group will join past industry leaders whose portraits and stories are displayed in National Dairy Shrine’s Dairy Hall of Fame and Museum in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
Bonnie Ayars is a dairy cattle breeder, teacher, coach and agriculture advocate from Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Ayars and her husband, John, bred and developed Guernsey herds with the Land of Living prefix and then added the partnership of New View Swiss with more prize-winning cows at their farm.
The couple and their sons bred and developed more than 20 national show champions, numerous all-Americans, bulls in A.I. and leading production animals.
Ayars has been a teacher for 48 years. In 2006, she accepted a position at Ohio State University as a dairy program specialist, working with all 4-H dairy programming, coaching the collegiate and 4-H judging teams and teaching in the animal sciences department. She eventually transitioned to only the collegiate portion of her appointment but continues to work with 4-H dairy programs.
Her judging teams have won many contests, including the National Intercollegiate Contest at World Dairy Expo in 2019.
Ayars has judged local, state and national dairy shows, including World Dairy Expo’s Guernsey Show in 2006 and the National Guernsey Junior Show in 2012.
She has collaborated with cable TV shows to demonstrate the preparation of dairy based recipes, supported the American Dairy Association-Mideast in live and video promotions and events and provided cows and leadership for educational displays at Ohio State Fair.
In 2010, the Ayars’ family began using their own milk to make ice cream on the farm. Today, the family continues to operate an ice cream and cheese business, along with an on-farm activity center, under the name Ayars Family Farm.
Also honored are Dieter Krieg, the founder, publisher and editor of Farmshine, based in Brownstown, Pennsylvania, Ric Grummer, of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, an Emeritus Professor, Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Darrell W. Pidgeon, of Parker, Colorado, who entrepreneurial work in the dairy cattle export business helped open and develop markets for U.S. Holstein cattle around the world.
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