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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.