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A thank you from the Ride To Farm cyclists

We made it! Our determined group of ten riders completed the 235-mile ride from Cadott to Madison June 24 to June 27 in great spirits … and with only “slightly” aching muscles! We parted friends-for-life, united by a common goal and accomplishment. It was an experience that none of us will forget.

Five celebrity riders joined the group on day three – Rebecca Anderson, Rachel Eichers and Anna Dierking of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board”s “America”s Dairyland” Women”s Cycling Team, and Michael Banas and Patrick O”Halloran of Lombardino”s restaurant, Madison. Our brightly bedecked group rode from Culver”s in Sauk City to the final event of the ride, a splendid benefit at Middleton”s Capital Brewery. Called “Graze On! For local farms, local food,” the family-oriented festival featured appetizers prepared by top Madison chefs from locally produced meats and dairy products, as well as toe-tapping bluegrass music and Capital”s own microbrews. Together, these fundraisers netted about $5,000 for the Friends of the WSBDF Endowment Initiative, a three-year effort to reach $250,000 to help fund the School.

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

In addition to the riders that made the trip together from Cadott to Madison, the remarkable Will Hughes, administrator, Division of Agricultural Development, DATCP, collected pledges from his colleagues and rode 203.5 miles across southern Wisconsin in one (very) long day. Richard Castelnuovo, also of the DATCP, rode the first 133 miles with Will. An incredible effort, gentlemen!

The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers staff – Jennifer Taylor, Dick Cates, and Steve Neary – as well as the riders (Brad Sirianni, high school agricultural instructor, Independence; Merle Richter, high school agricultural instructor, Bloomer; Ross Waldofski, graduate of Bloomer High School and FFA; Dick Cates, director of the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers; John Cates, Madison trial lawyer; Seth Alt, UW-Milwaukee student and long-time assistant at the Cates Family Farm; Kat Becker, UW graduate student at the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems; Tony Schultz, high school social science instructor, Columbus; Carol Roth, outreach specialist, UW-Program on Agricultural Technology Studies; Holly Roth, elementary school music instructor, Cross Plains), want to give a warm thanks to all those across Wisconsin who showed us enthusiastic support.

A heart-felt thank you goes to Jim and Julie Schweers of Greenwood, 1998 graduates of the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers, who opened their farm to us for much needed rest, sustenance, shade, and camaraderie during lunch on the first day. It is a joy to see the Schweers farming well and exuding such pleasure in their dreams-to-farm come true! They are, truly, Wisconsin”s future on the land.

Thank you, also, to our sponsors: The Wisconsin Farm Credit System; Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board; Independence High School FFA, which funded the Ride to Farm jerseys and PowerTex Sportswear, Eau Claire, which printed them; and to these extraordinary businesses: Organic Valley Family of Farms, which provided a huge cooler of organic “single-serving flavored milk;” and Culver”s of Wisconsin Rapids and Culver”s Franchising, Sauk City, which provided meals for the riders, as well as complimentary Turtle Sundae coupons for us to give to our well-wishers along the way!

And thanks to Bob Bosold, WAXX Radio, Eau Claire who saw us off from the River Country Truck Plaza the morning of our departure on June 24, and to Pam Jahnke, Wisconsin Farm Report and WTDYAM/Q106FM Radio, Madison, and Channel 15 TV, Madison, who greeted us upon our arrival at the Annual Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators Conference at the Marriott Hotel the morning of June 27. We also appreciated the attention from the Country Today and the many local newspapers that covered the Ride to Farm.

Finally, 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, 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 University Ave.; PO Box 8860; Madison, WI 53708-8860.