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Holstein Canada Annual Meeting 2012 – From coveralls to Niagara Falls

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On Friday, April12th, President Glen McNeil welcomed a capacity crowd to the 128th Annual General Meeting of Holstein Canada. Glen himself represents the passion and commitment that would be seen and recognized throughout the proceedings of this meeting.  The packed hall often waved their hands, lifted their voices and stood on their feet to express support for the moments inspired by the 2012 theme, “Connecting with Members”.


It was delightful to have a chance to talk with the organizers of the 2012 AGM and hear their enthusiasm for this event.  From the 30 wine barrels refinished by Mary Anne Peart to the logistics of welcoming and moving crowds to and from events, every stage had its creative and inspiring moments.  The Hall of Fame for Master Breeders was back-dropped by Niagara Falls – a fitting setting for the achievements of these Holstein Breeders.


Orville Schmidt built the suspense leading up to the announcement of the 2012 Cow of the Year in a competition that saw the highest number of votes ever cast.  “And the winner is…. Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy (Ex-95) owned by Morsan Farms Ltd., Ponoka, Alta., Van Ruinen Dairy Ltd., Lacombe, Alta., Mark Butz, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Gert Andreasen, Ponoka, Alta.. In a meeting that loved the personal moments, we learned that this fine ambassador of Canadian Holsteins worldwide has the added outreach in that “she has been touched by more school kids than any of her peers”.


The Holstein Journal was recognized for marking its 75th Anniversary year. Peter English thanked Holstein Canada for the honour and emphasized that from the pioneers 75 years ago (the Donovan family) to the present day team, “It took a lot of people to contribute to reach this milestone.”

Another standing-ovation highlight of the AGM was the presentation of the “Certificate of Superior Accomplishment” to Patty Jones. For 40 years this first female recipient of the reward has shaped, mentored and led those who share her love for the Holstein Cow. “I love what I do” was the theme of her appreciation for this honour being bestowed upon her. Along with travelling 4 million kms and picturing 65,000 cows, she treasures most her own family and her Holstein Family for instilling in her “my love of the Holstein cow, work ethic and perseverance.”  As Glen McNeil pointed out, Patty is “unrelenting in her encouragement of registry and classification”.  Everyone in attendance encourages her to continue to follow her dreams, because as she says “anything and everything is possible.”


In a program filled with firsts, the keynote speaker selection marked the first Holstein staff member respected with this opportunity.  Tom is loved coast to coast in Canada and respected worldwide.  He conducted a “masters” review of what it takes to achieve success in Holstein breeding.  Always positive, enthusiastic and patriotic, Tom’s  “Old Stories.  New Beginnings.” touched the hearts of his already loyal following.

Many Tom-isms were delivered in that intoxicating Scottish brogue.

“At the end of the day Holstein Canada must continue to evolve, combine science with cow sense.”

“ … at the end of the day it’s all about the cow”. This from the man who claims, before Obama did, to have raised the cry,  “Oh yes we can!”

Tom also delivered admonishments. However, you can accept criticism for paying too much attention paid to height, style and sharpness (in the wrong places) if it’s delivered with one liners like. “That’s like a good looking wife that won’t cook”.

As the rapt audience listened to this review of 30 years they heard that, even though, we sometimes think of these evaluators of our dear cows as the Teflon crew. They make their determination and move on to the next animal and thousands more evaluated each year.  However those paying close attention would hear his self-review and heard how many nights in hotel rooms, and weekends at home are spent reviewing and considering the “reclassified, miss-classified and over scored”. How much more work did that add to the 300,000 animals attributed to this “Highland Glancer”. There’s no time for “guilt” from this “man with a kilt” who loves his job. Like others he could name (and frequently did) he compares beautiful cows and beautiful women. He sums it all up very wisely, “You’re never done learning!”

The Bullvine Bottom Line.

“Our dairy strength depends upon our member strength.”

That is the connection most successfully made by this 2012 Holstein Annual General Meeting.  Always strive for profitable members through combining the passion for the cows, incorporation of science and respect for each other.  As the 2012 keynote speaker, with 30 years living his love for Holsteins, says “You must continually have new beginnings, if you’re going to have progress.” This excites him so much he pauses with hand pounding his chest, “Oh my heart be still!”  We love you too Tom!

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