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Boyke Family named Badger of the Year

The Fond du Lac Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association has selected Boyke Family members Gary Boyke, Katie (nee Boyke) Grinstead and JR Boyke as the Chapter’s 2020 Badger of the Year. The Badger of the Year award is presented annually by local chapters of the Wisconsin Alumni Association to recognize a University of Wisconsin – Madison alumnus that has demonstrated leadership in their profession and in the community. Gary Boyke is a 1972 graduate of UW-Madison’s Farm and Industry Short Course. A native of the Fond du Lac area, he returned to the family farm upon graduation. Gary was passionate about the Holstein cow and the world of genetics, a field that played a major role in the future of the farm for the next 20 years. Vir-Clar Farms became known throughout the world as a source of elite genetics. The farm sold cattle to 22 countries. A highlight during that time was participating in the first TOP TEN sale held in San Francisco, where Vir-Clar sold the top selling animal at $70,000. Today, there are 2,400 cows on the farm, and they work 3,000 acres. Gary has been involved in the Farm Credit Services Board, a 4-H Leader, the Fond du Lac County Board of Supervisors, the county Holstein Association, Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation, and the Capital Resource Committee. Other accolades include winning the Jaycees Outstanding Young Farmer, the AMPI Outstanding Young Farmer (National winner), the Outstanding Young Breeder from the Wisconsin Holstein association and the 1991 National Award Winner, and a Wisconsin Master Agriculturalist Award. Gary, and his wife Rose have four children: Katie (Grant) Grinstead, Angie (Ryan) Matthias, Tiffany (Nick) Venne, and JR (Samantha). Gary is semi-retired during winter months as he has left the farm in capable hands as JR, and Katie and Grant. Katie is a 2000 graduate of UW-Madison with a degree in Agricultural Journalism emphasizing in Sales and Marketing. While at school Katie was active in The Association of Women in Agriculture, Badger Dairy Club and The National Agri Marketing Association. Katie held several officer positions in these clubs and was a member on the winning National Agri Marketing teams. After graduation she stayed in Madison and went to work for Vita Plus an animal feed and nutrition company as a calf and heifer specialist. Developing new products and calling on dairy producers to help them improve the calf programs were her main responsibilities. In 2006 Katie return to Vir-Clar Farms to start raising the farm’s calves fulfilling her dream to be a part of the family farm. Currently Katie oversees the calf operations, does all the farms bookkeeping and payroll, and gives several tours of the farm throughout the year. Giving back to the community is something she feels very strong about and is currently a member of the Fond du Lac Fair Board, Fond du Lac Charity Club, and Envision Greater Fond du Lac. Katie has been married to Grant for 15 years and they have three children, Colton,13, Klair,10 and Griffin, 7. JR Boyke attended UW Madison’s Farm and Industry Short Course, receiving his dairy management certificate in 2007. While in school, JR was a part of the short course judging team that placed fourth high individual at the World Dairy Expo – a highlight of his judging career. JR also was part of Badger Dairy Club and helped fit cattle for the Badger Invitational. After graduating, JR worked for Wil-Star Holsteins where he learned more about genetics working with many high dollar cows. In 2009, he worked for Rosendale dairy where he learned even more about dairy cows. In 2011, JR returned to Vir-Clar Farms where he oversees the day-to-day operations. JR is married to Samantha and they have two children, Jordan, 4, and Ginny, 1. The Badger of the Year award will be presented at the Fond du Lac chapter’s annual Founder’s Day dinner Tuesday, March 31. In addition to the Badger of the Year award, the evening will include a presentation entitled, “Earth Day @ 50: Our Roles as Global environmental Citizens” by Paul Robbins, director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison. Robbins guides the institute in serving as a world leader in addressing rapid global environmental change.