WALSAA Outstanding Sophomores

Describe your dairy background
Jessica Mehre, Glenbeulah, WI
High School: Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School

My parents milk 50 cows in our century stanchion barn. I’ve always enjoyed farm work, from calves to fieldwork, but became especially invested in the operation during high school; By graduation, I had creating my own mini-enterprise of 8 head of dairy cattle.

Mena Schmitt, Sun Prairie, WI
High School: Sun Prairie High School

I am currently involved on my family’s farm where we raise around four hundred breeding age to springing aged heifers. Additionally, I have developed a small herd of elite Milking Shorthorns and Holsteins.

Emily Franke, Oakfield, WI
High School: Oakfield High School

I grew up on my family’s 500-acre cash crop operation and loved showing animals every year at the county fair. I became involved in the dairy industry when I worked on a family friend’s dairy farm my junior year of high school. Through this experience, I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in Dairy Science.

Dawson Nickels, Watertown, WI
High School: Watertown High School

I grew up on a small-scale farmette on the outskirts of Watertown, WI. Though my patents sold the milking herd before I was born, I have been very active within the dairy industry. Through the Jr. Holstein Association and Wisconsin 4-H, my sister and I have utilized the opportunities presented to us in these organizations. Currently, we operate a boarding business; we raise and prepare registered dairy cattle for professional exhibition. This endeavor has taught us business intellect, the value of hard work, and independence.

Summer Henschel, Chilton, WI
High School: Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School

My involvement with dairy started in 6thgrade when I leased my first Holstein heifer to show. Since then, I have continued to find different ways to involve myself including FFA, breed organizations, and jobs on dairy farms.

What is your involvement on campus?

Mehre: My involvement on campus includes student orgs such as Badger Dairy Club, Crops Judging and Evaluation Team, Saddle and Sirloin,  Collegiate Farm Bureau, Association of Women in Agriculture, and the CALS Ambassador Program. I’ve held several leadership positions in theses org as well. I am also involved in Dr. Heather White’s Dairy Nutrition lab and formerly held a position in UW-Madison’s Sweet Corn Breeding Program.

Schmitt: I am currently serving as Association of Women in Agriculture’s Breakfast on the Farm Food co-chair. As well as being actively involved in both Collegiate Farm Bureau and Badger Dairy Club.

Franke: I am involved in the Association of Women in Agriculture, Badger Dairy Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Dairy Judging. I have served the past year as Association of Women in Agriculture Treasurer and am looking forward to serving as Vice President next year. I was also elected to be Outreach Coordinator for the Badger Dairy Club for next year, as well as will be serving as a CALS Ambassador.

Nickels: I am active in multiple organizations on campus. I am the Activities Officer for the Badger Dairy Club and was a Selections Co-Chairman for the 19th Badger Invitational Sale. I also a member of Badger Aviators and was active in Collegiate Farm Bureau. Additionally, I am a brother at Alpha Gamma Rho. There, I am the risk manager, house steward, Interfraternity Council Delegate, philanthropy financial chairman, and a class budget representative.

Henschel: On campus, I am an active member of the Association of Women in Agriculture, Badger Dairy Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau, Collegiate FFA, and Pre-Veterinary Association. Looking forward to next year, I am excited to serve as an officer in most of these organizations. I am also a research assistant in the Hernandez Laboratory in the Dairy Science Department.

What does receiving this award mean to you?

Mehre: As one of ALSAA’s Outstanding Sophomores, I feel reassured that I’m on a path to success. My activities and involvement on campus not only give me purpose and enjoyment but, as is indicated by such an award, will effectuate future opportunities. Such an investment is both humbling and encouraging; this award bestows a profound goal to realize the potential of progress that WALSAA has recognized.

Schmitt: Having the honor to receive this award means that industry professionals recognize my passion and dedication to agriculture. As well as my leadership that has surrounded my participation in the dairy industry truly inspires me to continue to give back to agriculture all the unique and vast opportunities it has given me.

Franke: I am genuinely honored to receive the WALSAA Outstanding Sophomore Award. To be one out of ten sophomores in the entire College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to receive this is extremely humbling. It allows me to be rewarded for all of the hard work I have put forth in my various student organizations as well as academically.

Nickels: This award is humbling. My experiences have taught me to earn what I take credit for. Nothing is more delegitimizing than boasting or taking something for credit that was never earned. Success is a product of honesty and hard work.

Henschel: It is an honor to be recognized for my involvement within CALS. This award will allow me to keep focusing on taking full advantage of all the opportunities CALS and the university have to offer.

What are your plans for this summer?

Mehre: I will be interning for Quality Liquid Feeds in a TMR quality assurance project. Stationed in Boise, Idaho, I will complete farm visits and follow-ups to make recommendations on how to increase the uniformity and delivery of their TMR but implementing QLF products and services.

Schmitt: This summer I have the absolute privilege of being an assistant dairy herdsman at the Meadow Star Farm of Riverview, LLP in Pennock, Minnesota. Within my internship, I will be completing rotations such as maternity, nutrition, reproduction, and much more.

Franke: I will be serving as the Milk Marketing Intern at Grande Cheese Company in Fond du Lac, WI. Some of my duties include helping producers with herd health plans and standard operating guidelines, helping to train haulers and farms with a mobile manifest application, and taking and delivering of samples, along with scoring teat ends at farms.

Nickels: This summer, I will be interning at the Great Northern Land and Cattle Co., Inc. I will be involved with the presale preparations of sale cattle, marketing, and advertising.

Henschel: This summer I will be staying in Madison to complete a research internship in the Hernandez Laboratory. My main role will revolve around sample tests and analysis for a large ongoing study of subclinical hypocalcemia and calcium homeostasis.

Debbie Machuca BS’20 awarded Dennis R. Buege Meat Science Scholarship

Debbie Machuca has been chosen to receive a Dennis R. Buege Meat Science Scholarship. Muchuca was awarded a $1000 scholarship and a plaque during the Wisconsin Association of Meat Processor’s Spring Convention banquet on April 6.

Machuca grew up in the inner city of Chicago. She is a Dairy Science major at UW-Madison. During the past 3.5 years, she has assisted with slaughter, fabrication, and processed meat manufacturing in Bucky’s Butchery. She has been active in the Badger Meat Science Club. Debbie has further demonstrated her interest in the meat industry by attending a number of conferences and trade shows (Reciprocal Meat Conference, AAMP, Processing Exposition). Debbie is particularly proud of having won the AAMP Reserve Grand Champion for her Spicy Summer Sausage. She interned at Jack Link’s in New Glarus and has an internship planned at Johnsonville for this coming summer. With assistance from Dr. Claus, Debbie wrote a proposal to the Cargill-Benevenga Undergraduate Research Scholarship program which was funded that enabled her to conduct research associated with assessing the chemical and physical properties of smoked, cooked boneless hams. Debbie is currently at Wageningen University in the Netherlands studying abroad. Debbie has maintained an impressive academic record and plans on pursuing a M.S. degree after she graduates.

Alumni Spotlight – Rob Rippchen BS’95

Thinking Outside the Barn

Studying dairy science can lead to great careers—including some that don’t involve cows or milk

When Rob Rippchen left home to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991, he figured it would be a round trip.

“I thought I was going to come home and farm,” recalls Rippchen, who grew up on a 125-cow registered Holstein operation near Richland Center. “I went for the dairy science program. “

Rippchen was right that earning a degree from one of the world’s premier dairy science programs would have been a great way to prepare for a career in the dairy business. But in his case, it turned out to be a good way to prepare for a job—actually, for a variety of jobs—that aren’t connected to cows or milk.

Rippchen has spent the past two decades working in sales and marketing for John Deere. During that time, he has worked across much of the U.S. and on the other side of the world, and worn many different hats.

His first job was in the northwestern U.S. helping to launch a new line of hay equipment. Next he was a territory manager in Oregon, an area dominated by nursery stock and grass seed production. Then he worked in dealer development, first in Reno, then Kansas City, helping dealers improve efficiency and service and grow their businesses.

During three years in Moline as division marketing manager in the U.S. and Canada for seeding equipment, he helped develop a 120-foot row crop planter that can cover over 700 acres per day. Then he went to Singapore to take charge of dealer development leading a team that recruited new dealers and developed existing dealers across Asia and Africa.

He is now based in the Chicago area and serves as a division sales manager in charge of ag and turf equipment sales for Illinois and Wisconsin.

Interestingly, it was his dairy science advisor who gave him the first nudge toward a career outside of the dairy business.

“I took a couple of pre-calculus classes my freshman year and did well. When George Shook, my advisor, saw that, he suggested that I consider a double major in dairy and ag economics, because I already had the two toughest prerequisites out of the way.”

Rippchen did take on the second major and took to it. That led to an internship with John Deere in Minneapolis, his senior year. “By the end of that summer I had a job offer,” he says. “And I guess just I fell in love with it.”

While Rippchen’s many positions with John Deere have drawn heavily on his economics education (which he bolstered a couple of years ago by earning an MBA from Northwestern University) he has found plenty of use for his dairy expertise. That began with his first job providing marketing support for some new forage equipment. When he went to Ottumwa, Iowa to learn the job, he helped bring some fellow trainees up to speed. “It was kind of like raising-hay 101. We helped educate our co-workers on what good hay was and how you make it—things that were second nature to those of us with a dairy background.”

He also draws on leadership skills he developed through student activities, such as chairing the Badger Dairy Club’s big cattle sale. “It taught us how to plan and execute a large-scale event. I learned early on the power of teamwork and that successful leaders empower their team,” he says.

And he makes constant use of critical thinking skills he honed in collegiate dairy judging, in which he had to work against the clock to evaluate and rank groups of cows and then explain his decisions to contest judges.

“Dairy judging teaches you how to take a stance and defend it,” he says. “That translates into what I do day in and day out today, trying to sell our dealers on different programs or ideas. It helps the way you think and it prepares you to be very concise in explaining yourself.”

Rippchen’s story offers a useful take-home message for prospective student, says Kent Weigel, UW-Madison dairy science department chair. Choosing a major doesn’t box you into a career.

“Most students don’t know what the opportunities are when they come to campus. There are so many positions that branch out from the dairy industry in so many directions whether it’s sales or marketing or finance or environmental issues or consumer issues. There are a lot of opportunities there if a student wants to get the extra training and skills to be a good match.”

As it turns out, while Rippchen’s career took him far from home farm and away from the dairy business, in the end it brought him full circle.

“The dairy sector is a huge portion of our business in Wisconsin, being able to relate to customers and understand why equipment uptime is so vital to dairies seven days a week has helped me in my current role,” he says.

Student Profile: Nicole Pralle BS’19

Name: Nicole Pralle
Hometown: Humbird, WI
High School: Osseo-Fairchild
Class Size: 54
Major(s): Dairy Science and Life Sciences Communications with a Certificate in Business Management for Agricultural & Life Sciences




Why did you decide to attend UW-Madison?
I have always viewed UW-Madison as a pillar of innovation within the dairy industry. UW is known for their dairy research that helps producers be more progressive, allowing them to grow their businesses. I wanted to be a part of and learn at a world-renowned university where the faculty has been instrumental in moving the dairy industry forward. Attending UW-Madison for dairy science was an easy decision for me, one that in hindsight has led to amazing agricultural experiences I will never forget.

What has been your most memorable college experience?
I had the opportunity to experience Mexican agriculture for two weeks with eight other classmates in Professor Michel Wattiaux’s Dairy Science 473: Study Abroad Field Program in Mexico course. In the course we saw first-hand the multi-dimensional nature of dairy production, food security and the overall Mexican agricultural industry. The industry knowledge and cultural experiences I gained from the trip has significantly impacted my view of the world and future goals.

What has been your favorite course?
Dairy Science 375: Dairy Nutrition Experience has definitely been my favorite course. It gave me a chance to apply the knowledge I learned in my nutrition courses to a real-world industry experience. This was a three-part class that included a farm management audit, attendance at the Leading Producer Conference and seminars at the Purina Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, MO.

What are your future career goals?
After graduating in May I hope to work in the dairy industry doing sales and marketing. I love travel and meeting new people, which peaks my interest in a potential international sales opportunity.

Reflections: Allan N. Bringe, dairy science professor emeritus in extension milk quality

Madison – Allan N. Bringe, age 83, passed away on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at Agrace Hospice Residential. Allan was the son of Alfred and Margaret Bringe.

They had a dairy farm in Holmen, Wisconsin where Allan spent his young life. He graduated from Holmen High School in 1953. He went on to earn his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1958 he married Joyce Clay from Tomah, Wisconsin.

He was appointed to the Dairy Science faculty at UW-Madison in 1959. After completion of his Ph.D he was appointed full Professor. Allan worked extensively in mastitis, milk quality and milking management. Under Allan’s leadership Wisconsin became the leader in development of the somatic cell testing program in cooperation with DHIA. He traveled international and nationally teaching the Practice of producing Quality Milk.

Allan celebrated his Norwegian heritage sharing fellowship in Madison Torske Kluibben, Madison Ygdrasil Literary Society, and the Scandinavian Club of Sun City Grand in Surprise, Arizona. He liked Lutefisk, lefse and Uffda jokes. Favorite pastimes were with family camping, fishing, hunting, and golfing.

Allan was preceded in death by his parents, Alfred and Margaret Bringe. He is survived by his wife, Joyce; two children; Neal (Lida) Bringe and Ann (Richard) Schmidt; eight grandchildren, Russell (Crystal), Abigail, Kevin Schmidt, Peter (Melody), John, Gloria, Thomas and Nathanael Bringe; two great-grandchildren, Alfred and Katherine Bringe; two brothers, Russell (Carol) and Erwin Bringe; nephews, David (Kim) and James (Kendra) Bringe, Martin Bringe; and niece, Susan (David) Chase.

A Funeral Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at GOOD SHEPHERD LUTHERAN CHURCH, 5701 Raymond Road, Madison, with Pastor Joe Brosious officiating. A visitation will be held from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service at church on Saturday. Burial will be held at Forest Hill Cemetery.

The family wishes to thank the many caregivers that assisted him during his years through dementia. A special thanks to Agrace Residential, for their care during his final months.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be given to UW Foundation – Allan and Joyce Bringe Dairy Science Scholarship Fund, US Bank Lockbox 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278 or a memorial of your choice.

Undergraduate Student Profile: Ali Holub

Name: Alexandra Holub

Hometown: Boyd, Wisconsin

High School: Stanley-Boyd

Class Size: 75

Farm: Riverview Dairy Farm

Major: Dairy Science with a certificate in Agricultural Business Management

Why did you decide to attend UW-Madison?  Growing up in Wisconsin, being a Badger is the ultimate goal.  The Diary Science education offered at UW-Madison is one of the best you can receive.  Attending UW-Madison has always been important to me, so I worked hard to be able to meet the qualifications and be accepted here.

What has been your most memorable college experience?  There have been so many, but getting involved in the clubs on campus like Saddle and Sirloin and Badger Dairy Club have been some of the most memorable.  These clubs offered me the opportunity to be involved in events like World Dairy Expo and the Badger Kick-Off Classic.

What has been your favorite course?  My favorite course was Milo Wiltbank’s Reproductive Management course, Dairy Science 534. Dr. Wiltbank had us  in the barn breeding and ultra-sounding cows every day, which was an incredible experience. It’s courses like this, taught by internationally recognized professors, that make UW-Madison such a great learning environment.

What are your future career goals?  I will be working for Form A Feed as a nutrition and production specialist, focusing on dairy. Growing up on a dairy farm and doing two feed internships has given me a strong passion for working with farmers to help them scale goals set for their herd.

Undergraduate Student Profile: Meghan Skiba

Name: Meghan Skiba

Hometown: Cambridge, MN

High School: Cambridge-Isanti High School

Class Size: 380

Farm: Diamond S Farm – Skiba’s Registered Jerseys

Major: Dairy Science and Agricultural Business Management

Why did you decide to attend UW-Madison?

After my campus visit to a snow-covered Madison on President’s Day 2014 during a blizzard, I knew I wanted to be a Badger. I attended UW-Madison for the rigorous and world-renownedDairy Science Program. I was excited to begin my college career in an area of study where I am most passionate at a prestigious research university. Growing up on my family’s dairy farm, I had many opportunities to learn alongside my family, but coming to UW-Madison has surely continued to engage my interest and passion in dairy.

What has been your most memorable college experience?

Throughout my four years in Madison, I have had the chance to be involved in so many organizations and opportunities on campus. Most recently, I just finished up planning the Breakfast on the Farm event put on by the Association of Women in Agriculture. I became involved with this event my first year in college, and I have continued being a part of this campus-wide event since then. With each year a little bit different than the previous, it has truly been a rewarding experience to play a greater role in our community when it comes to agriculture education. Having the ability to interact with students across campus, as well as those in the greater Madison community, has continued to inspire me to share my passion for dairy.  

What has been your favorite course?

My favorite course has been Animal Physiology 373. This class is a great all-encompassing course as it is a combination of all my physiology courses on reproduction, lactation, nutrition, and animal health and disease management. It allows me to tie together all the topics learned in these individual courses to be able to see how each of the areas of physiology have been important to my dairy science degree.   

What are your future career goals?

I hope to be able to be a positive role model and an asset to the dairy industry in my advocacy and public interaction. My interests are in nutrition and animal health, and I am excited to begin my professional career working with farmers and industry representatives.


Undergraduate Student Profile: Tony Schmitz

Name: Anthony Schmitz

Hometown: Fond du Lac, WI

High School: Saint Mary’s Springs Academy

Farm: Schmitz’s Eastbranch Dairy

Major: Dairy Science with a Certificate in Agricultural Business Management


Why did you decide to attend UW-Madison?

I chose to attend UW-Madison due to their nationally recognized Dairy Science program and the opportunity to learn from some of the best Dairy Science professors in the world.

What has been your most memorable college experience?

My most memorable experiences have been the study tours and trips I have been able to take advantage of through my involvement with the Collegiate Farm Bureau and Badger Dairy Club.

What has been your favorite course?

Dairy Science 311/313, Ruminant Nutrition and Diet Formulation Lab, was my favorite course because it allowed me to apply my knowledge from biochemistry classes in practical and real situations. The knowledge that I gained in the class will surely serve me well in the future.

Following graduation, I will be working for Kerry Ingredients in management and operations. In the future, I hope to work in food manufacturing and processing or dairy farming and make a real impact on the food supply chain of the world.

Undergraduate Student Profile: Megan Lauber


Name: Megan Lauber

Hometown: Union Grove, WI

Farm: Lauber Farm/Hillpine Holsteins

Major: Dairy Science with Certificate in Agricultural Business Management

Why did you decide to attend UW-Madison?

I chose to come to UW-Madison because of the beautiful campus and atmosphere as well as the great agriculture programs, clubs, and research opportunities.

What has been your most memorable college experience?

One of my most memorable college experiences was studying abroad in Mexico for two weeks.  It was interesting to see and learn about the biodiversity of Mexico, their dairy production systems, other agriculture commodities, trade, and how it affects our food system.

What has been your favorite course?

My favorite courses have been lactation physiology, animal physiology, and animal ag and sustainable development.

What are your future career goals?

My career goal is to work as a dairy nutritionist focusing on calf and young heifer programs while continuing to be active on my family’s dairy farm.