MSPA Board of Directors Candidates

Jason Alberda
Ottawa County | Direct Marketer, Seedstock Producer
I enjoy raising sheep, have a fair bit of experience with rotational grazing, as well as extending our grazing season utilizing cover crops, and stockpiled pasture.  Have been raising traditional type polled Dorsets since 2002.  Have been a member of NSIP since 2007 to help us select and sell sheep with production traits.  I have been a teacher at a Career Center for High School students for over 20 years. I have been benefiting as a member of the MSPA for many years and enjoy being part of the sheep industry.

Ben Bartlett
Alger County | Commercial
Ben and his wife Denise run about 350 spring lambing ewes in the central Upper Peninsula.  The lambs are weaned to pasture and then sold as feeder lambs about November.  Pasture is our main crop with an emphasis on soil health and low-cost production.  We make all our own hay, about 70% as baleage, and also have about 20 red Angus beef cows. We have been members of MSPA for over 30 years and believe MSPA is a vital cog in the success of the Michigan Sheep Industry and a critical source of education and support for everyone in the sheep business. I look forward to the special opportunity to serve on the MSPA board.

Sy Caryl
Genesee County | Feeder lamb Producer, Lamb feeder, Direct Marketer, Wool Producer
I am active in both sheep production and shearing. I would like to bring my knowledge and offer what I can to the board.



David Scales
Chippewa County | Feeder lambs, Club lambs, Seedstock
I have experience managing large numbers of both commercial and purebred sheep as well as utilizing reproductive technologies to streamline the breeding and lambing process and better utilize labor resources. I can relate to producers of all sizes as I have been around operations that rely on hand feeding with a 5-gallon bucket as well as those that utilize a TMR mixer and drive through feed alleys.  I hope that my diverse background can help mentor new producers into the industry as well as increase conversation between existing producers to adopt new ideas and better management practices.

Tony Wernette
Mecosta County | Feeder Lamb producer, Lamb Feeder, Direct Marketer, Wool Producer
I have always found MSPA activities gratifying and would like to help continue its legacy. I like running science experiments. I have been on Farm Bureau and FFA boards so am familiar with the business process. I am currently serving on the MSPA Board to finish the term of Cameron Lauwers, and I am serving as the Chair of the Commercial Producer committee.  I hope to continue in both positions.


Brenda Reau
Monroe County | Seedstock
I am active in a broad cross-section of sheep industry organizations that provides me with an ongoing connection with what is going on in the industry across the country. I serve on the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center board as a producer representative, where we review and fund research proposals and projects to support the industry with funds from the Farm Bill. I also serve on the board of the United Suffolk Sheep Association and the National Sheep Improvement Program. Our Suffolk flock is enrolled in NSIP, and we produce breeding stock with EBV’s. Ninety percent of our lamb crop is either sold for breeding stock or retained in our flock for breeding. About half of our sales are to other Suffolk breeders, and the other half is to commercial ram buyers. Many of our rams go to large commercial operations in Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. As a seed stock producer, I am very interested in creating sheep that can excel in growth and produce excellent carcasses for the commercial market. My husband Mark and I have been married 42 years and have been raising sheep for 40 of those years.

Cindy Cieciwa
Genesee County | Seedstock Producer
As owner/operator of Pitchfork Ranch,  I have been a Michigan sheep producer since 1986, raising the dual purpose breeds of Romney, BFL, and Teeswater. I understand the perspective and value that we small producers can bring to the table. Working with youth as a 4H sheep judge or through our sales to youth, marketing our sheep and related products via our website and attendance at sheep events, and showing and selling breeding stock on a local and national level has provided me with opportunities to experience many ways of accomplishing goals and furthering education regarding sheep. I have served 12 years on the Board of American Romney Breeders including as Vice President and as President. I also served several years as the Treasurer of the Bluefaced Leicester Union of North America. One year ago I retired from Trinity Health as a Vice President of Operations, allowing me vastly more time to work with our sheep. I believe given my professional experiences, serving on the Board of ARBA and the BLU, and raising sheep for over 30 years provides an experience as a leader and the ability to work with others.

Jason Scramlin
Barry County | Feeder lambs, Lamb feeder, Direct Market, Seedstock
I have many years of involvement and employment with the Farm Bureau. I understand the policy, non-profit organizations, and member-based associations. I am passionate about Michigan agriculture and the sheep industry. I enjoy helping others, networking, and mentorship/ continued education. Our farming operation focuses on rotational pasture management, small flock management, and more recently, genetics. We are in year 2 of a transition into purebred Polypays and the NSIP program. Additionally, I sever on the board of directors of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (Michigan Chapter). I enjoy the sheep industry and the people involved with raising sheep. I want to do my part to serve this community, increase my knowledge as a shepherd, and enjoy volunteer leadership. I personally believe Michigan has a lot to offer the ag community and our state is a prime location for a thriving sheep industry.

April Zeilinger
Saginaw County | Wool Processing
I have always volunteered in some way; it has been two years since I have been in a volunteer position and would love to give back to the industry that has been so great to us.  It will be a great learning experience for me to see the inside of how hard our producers are working and the issues they face.  In my previous employment, I was a Project Manager and Systems Analyst.  I have worked in several different levels in business, I have always been ambitious and a high contributor in any position I have held. I currently run our social media and I created our website that we launched in March 2020.


Michigan Sheep Producers Association Youth Scholarship

Due to the generosity of our members donating and buying items in our youth auction scholarships will be offered again this year. The scholarships will be awarded during the virtual Shepherd’s Weekend. Please review the guidelines below and encourage qualified candidates to apply.

Applicant requirements:
Applicants may be a full-time freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior at a college, university or technical school.
Applicants may apply for the scholarship as many years as they meet the requirements but may only receive the scholarship once.

Scholarship scoring:
50 possible points on experience and involvement with the sheep industry
25 possible points on academic record
10 possible points on community service
15 possible points on the essay
25 bonus points if the applicant or their parent has been a member of MSPA for two years or more.
(In the case of a tie, it will be broken on the basis of a score for experience and involvement in the sheep industry.)

Questions can be directed to Brenda Reau at or 734-755-8285.
The application can be found on the MSPA website. All applications and supporting materials must be emailed in one package to The deadline is 11:59 pm on December 13.


USDA Co-hosts Free Webinar on Nov. 12 on Livestock Risk Management

Contact: USDA Press

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2020 – The Extension Risk Management Education Program and U.S. Department of Agriculture are hosting a webinar on Nov. 12 for agricultural producers and professionals focused on livestock risk management. The webinar is free to attend and will provide information on livestock markets, price risk, and risk management options available through USDA.

“We strongly encourage farmers and ranchers to attend this webinar,” said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “The information that will be presented here will be invaluable to livestock producers who have an interest in the various risk management tools available to them through USDA.”

“I brought my experience as a rancher with me when I came to USDA, and I know firsthand the challenges that America’s livestock producers face,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said. “This livestock risk management webinar is just one example of our efforts to offer timely resources to cattle producers and others in the U.S. fed beef supply chain so they can make informed business decisions. USDA remains dedicated to addressing the concerns and strengthening the interests of livestock producers through forward-thinking actions that balance every segment of the nation’s livestock industry with the direction of today’s marketplace.”

The webinar is scheduled for 2-3 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, November 12. Producers can register at

In addition to Northey and Ibach, other speakers include:

  • Brad Lubben, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center – introduction and moderator
  • Shannon Neibergs, Washington State University and the Western Extension Risk Management Education Center – livestock economics and moderator
  • Elliott Dennis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – price risk management concepts, tools, and considerations
  • Brandon Willis, Ranchers Insurance (Utah) and former USDA Risk Management Agency Administrator – insurance products, sales, and service

The webinar is a collaboration between USDA and the Extension Risk Management Education program, a USDA-funded program that provides regionally-based competitive grants for producer-focused educational projects. Learn more at

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, November 17, USDA will host the first in a series of four evening webinars from 7-9 p.m. Eastern with guest speakers from three regional USDA Cattle and Carcass Training Centers (CCTCs), the CME Group, and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). These webinars are designed to assist cattle producers, feeders, and others in the U.S. fed beef supply chain who want to better understand the reporting, delivery, and grading of feeder cattle, live cattle, and carcasses, particularly relating to CME live cattle futures. The webinars are free, but registration is required.

2020 Virtual Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium

The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association (OSIA) invites shepherds of all ages, sectors, and regions to attend the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium on December 4, 2020 to expand their knowledge of sheep nutrition and connect with their peers.

For the first time in the association’s 71-year history, the annual symposium will be entirely online. This year’s event will be offered in a condensed format, featuring multiple guest speakers presenting in various formats and styles about flock nutrition, with no fee to register.

Through partnerships with the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program and The Ohio State University, OSIA will offer an easily accessible and vast reaching event. The OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) program will serve as the virtual host for the symposium on Friday, December 4, 2020 from 2:00 – 5:00 pm through an interactive webinar.

Anyone interested in attending the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, the OSIA Annual Meeting, or the Shepherd’s Social Hour later in the evening, can register online at their convenience by visiting and completing the submission form with your name and email at to receive the meeting connection information.

Once completed, registered guests will receive an email with access information for the webinar. Creating a Zoom account is not a requirement to participate. Registration may occur at any point leading up to the symposium, even mid-session on December 4.  Guests are asked to register and join the meeting with their true first and last names.

The symposium’s first featured guest will be Dr. Francis Fluharty- the current Department Head of Animal Sciences at the University of Georgia. Dr. Fluharty will address how to manage your feeding regimen, including feed processing, digestive upset, and observing animal behavior. Dr. Fluharty will also cover the importance of providing a consistent mineral and vitamin program on a yearly basis.

The program will then transition to OSU’s new Extension Beef Cattle Field Specialist- Garth Ruff, who will be presenting on the topic of feeding wet forages. Although his current role emphasizes beef systems, Garth has a background in both forage and sheep production. He and his family have first-hand experience in feeding wet forages to their sheep throughout the winter months. Garth will review the necessary methods for harvesting and preserving wet forages, along with how to safely provide these feeds to small ruminants.

Additional presenters at this year’s event include Tim Barnes of OSU Extension ANR in Marion County, Christine Gelley of OSU Extension ANR in Noble County, and Brady Campbell of the OSU Sheep Team and Department of Animal Sciences. Tim will present a collective view of the 2019 State Fair Carcass Evaluations. Christine and Brady will present an intriguing update on university research related to sheep in the current year.

Immediately following the symposium webinar, the floor will be opened for the 2020 OSIA Annual meeting. All in attendance for the symposium are welcomed to join, although only dues-paying members will have their votes counted on election items. Those who choose to attend the annual meeting exclusively may do so at the same registration page as the symposium ( and join the webinar from 5:00-5:30 pm.

At the adjournment of the annual meeting, all are encouraged to enjoy a lamb dinner individually and gather again at 7:30 pm for our virtual Shepherd’s Social Hour. In a similar fashion as the prior Young Shepherds Assembly gatherings, this opportunity will allow shepherds to meet in an informal space to continue networking and sharing ideas on how to support and improve the sheep industry for the current and future generations. All are welcome to join regardless of age or experience level. The social hour will be hosted by Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium Co-Chair- Christine Gelley in a Zoom meeting room. To ensure cybersecurity, the Zoom link and password for this meeting room will be distributed during the symposium webinar or by special request.

The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association welcomes shepherds to join this year’s alternatively formatted symposium and will plan to welcome you back in-person to the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium at the Shisler Conference Center on OSU’s Wooster Campus on December 3 and 4, 2021.

Zoom can be accessed either on the internet with a computer/smart device or by dialing in on a cell/landline telephone. Connection information will be in the confirmation email after registering.

If a commitment prevents you from attending the event live, there will be additional opportunities to view the recorded presentations. Recordings will be available for viewing on the OSU Sheep Team webpage in 2021.

For those in need of help registering for this event, please contact Roger High, Brady Campbell, or Christine Gelley using the information listed below.

Roger High- or 614-246-8299
Brady Campbell- or 740-434-3252
Christine Gelley- or 740-305-3173

CG_2020 Buckeye Shepherd’s SymposiumFlyer

2020 American Wool Holiday Gift Guide

“With a turbulent and unexpected 2020, it’s important now, more than ever to support companies that believe in American-made goods with stateside manufacturing, and an ethos to give back whenever possible. That’s why we created this Holiday Gift Guide—we’ve gathered a selection of items that not only make great gifts but allow you to spend your holiday dollars bolstering companies that value American wool and local ranching communities.” – American Wool
Full Gift Guide and PROMO CODES on their website: