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A thank-you from the Ride To Farm cyclists

We made it! Our small, yet determined, group of five riders completed the 225-mile ride from Eau Claire to Madison June 25-June 28 in great spirits (and with only ”slightly”aching muscles!). We five Riders parted friends-for-life, united by a common goal and accomplishment; it was an experience that none of us will ever forget.

The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers and the Riders (Brad Sirianni, high school agricultural instructor, Independence; Merle Richter, high school agricultural instructor Bloomer; Dick Cates, director of the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers; John Cates, brother of Dick and Madison trial lawyer; and Kat Becker, UW graduate student at the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems) want to give a heart-felt thanks to all across Wisconsin who showed us such enthusiastic support.

Thank you to our sponsors: Kwik Trip, who purchased the Ride to Farm jerseys and Powertex Sportswear, Eau Claire, who did the logo work; and Culvers Franchising, who provided us all a meal as well as 50 complimentary Turtle Sundae coupons to give to our hosts and well-wishers along the route — we felt like “Santa in June” handing out free ice cream!

Staff from Country Today saw us off from the Eau Claire County Fairgrounds the morning of our departure on June 25th and Agri-View staff greeted us upon our arrival at the Annual Wisconsin Assoc. of Agricultural Educators Conference at the Marriott Hotel the morning of June 28th. We also appreciate the Wisconsin State Journal and so many local newspapers which ran a press release sent out from the UW Agricultural and Life Sciences communications staff prior to the Ride.

We also had the opportunity to get our message out and talk with some great folks from Wisconsin TV and radio, including: WEAU Channel 13 TV and Bob Bosold at WAXX radio, both of Eau Claire; Brian Winnekins, Magnus Broadcasting/WTMB Tomah; Ron Fruit, WRCO Richland Center; Jeff Harvey, WCOW Sparta; Tom Lee, WNFM/WRDR Reedsburg; Christe McKittrick, WI DATCP and LIFE 102.5, Madison; and Pam Jahnke, Wisconsin Farm Report WTDYAM/Q106FMRadio, Madison.

Thanks again to our wonderful host farm families who opened their farms to us for much needed rest, sustenance, shade and camaraderie: The Waldera family farm — Tom and son Phil (Independence HS ”02, and the WSBDF ”04), and Bill, Janet and son Derek (Independence HS ”02 and UW-River Falls), Whitehall; Patty Laskowski and Bill Morren (WSBDF ”02), Hillsboro; and Larry and Tina Wilkinson (WSBDF ”01), Loganville. It was a joy to see all of these graduates and their families farming well and exuding such pleasure in their dreams-to-farm come true!

And a special thank you to everyone who donated to the School and collected pledges for the Riders. All of us benefit from a thriving farm community and your support of the WSBDF will help to ensure a strong agricultural future in Wisconsin. For those of you who have yet to contribute, there is still time to pledge to the Ride and further the mission of the WSBDF by contacting the University of Wisconsin Foundation:
The UW Foundation-Friends of the WSBDF Fund, Attn: Jodi Wickham, (608) 263-2027; or Carol Chapa, (608) 265-4049;
Or mail to:
The UW Foundation
Attn: Jodi Wickham; Friends of the WSBDF Fund
1848 Univ. Ave., PO Box 8860
Madison, WI 53708-8860

The Ride to Farm was the kickoff event for a three-year “Friends of the WSBDF Fund-raising Initiative” which aims to raise an endowment for the School that will allow it to continue to serve the needs of Wisconsin farmers for years to come. Will there be a next Ride to Farm? Let us know what you think, and….stay tuned!

The WSBDF is a program of the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the Farm and Industry Short Course in the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences.