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CALS to honor four industry leaders and one distinguished colleague

On Oct. 23 the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences will present its Honorary Recognition Award to James Behnke, Linda Bochert, Peter Giacomini, and Richard Renk. Robert Cropp will receive the Distinguished Service Award.

The Honorary Recognition Award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions toward the development of agriculture, protection of natural resources and improvement of rural living. The Distinguished Service Award recognizes extraordinary contributions by a CALS faculty or staff member.

James R. Behnke, Incline Village, Nev., retired in 2000 as Senior Vice President of Technology at The Pillsbury Company. He joined the firm in 1974 and in 1979 became chief technical officer, responsible for new product development, process engineering, food safety, nutrition, environmental affairs and many other core functions. He has served as a member and chair of the CALS Board of Visitors, and has advanced the university”s food science program by hiring interns, spearheading fundraising and providing generous financial support.

Linda H. Bochert, Madison, is currently a partner in the law firm of Michael, Best and Friedrich LLP. She spent 17 years as a lawyer and policymaker with the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Justice and has lent her expertise to nonprofit councils and state advisory committees. In these capacities she has helped develop and implement many of the state”s pioneering pollution control laws and has played a leadership role in such landmark initiatives as Wisconsin”s groundwater quality protection law, brownfield redevelopment program, the Working Lands Initiative, and the Green Tier program. She is a past chair of the CALS Board of Visitors.

Peter D. Giacomini, Verona, is Chief Operating Officer of AgSource Cooperative Services. He has led his Wisconsin-based organization as it grew to become a major national provider of dairy herd improvement services. He has developed innovative, science-based products and services that have helped farmers improve their profitability. He serves on the CALS Board of Visitors, has been a longtime advisor to CALS programs that serve the dairy industry and has advocated for the college at the federal level.

Richard R. Renk, Sun Prairie, is Chairman of the Board of the Renk Seed Company, Wisconsin”s largest privately held seed company. His family”s long record of support for the university includes the establishment of the Renk Agribusiness Institute, which allows the university to offer an MBA specializing in agribusiness. He is director and the first vice president of the Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation, which awards scholarships at Wisconsin universities to students who are interested in agriculture, nursing or rural life. He also has served on the Board of Visitors for both CALS and the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

Robert A. Cropp, Oregon, is an Emeritus Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Extension dairy marketing specialist and former Director of the UW Center for Cooperatives. Since 1973, his monthly Dairy Situation column has been supplying state dairy farmers with timely information and market forecasts. He has helped numerous dairy cooperatives devise strategies for growth and profitability and has put in countless hours in the halls of government, advocating for equitable federal milk marketing policies.

The Honorary Recognition Banquet and Reception will take place in the Great Hall of UW-Madison”s Memorial Union, with a reception to meet past and current honorees at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. To register, go online to or download the 2008 Honorary Recognition registration form. Questions can be directed to the CALS Conference Office at