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CALS celebrated six friends of the college at the annual Honorary Recognition Banquet and Ceremony on November 12. This year’s honorees, pictured here with Dean Kate VandenBosch (middle) were (left to right): Michael Doyle, Distinguished Alumni Award; N.J. Benevenga, Distinguished Service Award; Robert Spitzer, Distinguished Alumni Award; Tom Pfaff, Honorary Recognition Award; Faye Jones, Honorary Recognition Award; and George Roemer, Honorary Recognition Award.

Michael Doyle, Regents Professor of Food Microbiology and Director of the University of Georgia Center for Food Safety, has an international reputation in the food science community of being an expert in food safety issues. He is responsible for several important developments in the food industry, is highly sought after for his expertise and has improved the safety of the world’s food supply. Prior to his career at the University of Georgia, Doyle was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he also obtained all three of his degrees.

Norlin “N.J.” Benevenga was on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the department of Animal Sciences from 1966 until his retirement in 2002. Benevenga is well-known for his reputation as a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students, and new faculty. His passion for nurturing critical thinking is respected by those who look to him for his inquisitive, honest, fair and insightful guidance. In retirement, Benevenga serves as the Chair of the CALS Animal Use and Care Committee and Chair of the All Campus Animal Planning Advisory Committee where he brings his critical eye and devotion to team work to improve animal well-being, create a safer working environment and ensure regulatory compliance.

Robert Spitzer also obtained all three of his degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he attended in the 1940s. Since then, he has dedicated himself to service in the food, nutrition and agricultural industries, and he is nationally and internationally recognized for his business leadership and commitment to solving problems associated with world hunger and poverty. Spitzer serves as the Director and Senior Mentor of Kikkoman Foods, Inc., a company he helped to establish their first U.S. production facility in Walworth, WI, expanding the market for Wisconsin soybeans and positively impacting the state’s economy.

Tom Pfaff, Jr. and his wife Sara own and operate his family farm, Pfaff’s Prairie Dairy, a 450-cow dairy in Melrose, WI. Since graduating from UW-Madison’s Farm and Industry Short Course in 1981, he has continued to learn and help others learn by remaining connected to the university. He is a leader among dairymen in the region and is known for aiding researchers and extension experts in improving dairy practices.  Pfaff regularly opens his farm to visitors with the goal of educating the community, improving dairy farming as a whole and expanding the knowledge of other farmers.

Faye Jones is the Executive Director of Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), a nonprofit organization based in Spring Valley, WI that promotes organic and sustainable agriculture by providing the education, resources and expertise farmers need to succeed. Over the last 25 years, under Jones’ leadership, MOSES has become the premier organization of its kind in the nation. Jones is well known and respected for the development of the annual Organic Farming Conference. Held in LaCrosse, WI each February, the conference attracts thousands from around the country and showcases Wisconsin’s innovative and productive organic agriculture community.

George Roemer is an international advocate for agriculture with experiences traveling abroad and hosting international guests in his home to help others improve production and training methods in their communities. He has been an educator and a farmer in his home of Hartford, WI, but is celebrated for his volunteer work in Afghanistan, Kenya, Mali and Nicaragua. Roemer has dedicated his career to assisting communities and improving agriculture.