Upper Midwest Dairy Industry Association

Congratulations to our 2020 Gene Watnaas Scholarship Winners

The Gene Watnaas Scholarship Winners for 2020 are Theodore Jacoby, Emily Annexstad and Isabella Portner. The scholarships were set up to recognize individuals pursuing an education in a field that will enhance the safety of  dairy and food products.

The Gene Watnaas scholarship was named in honor and now in memory of retired long time UMDIA General Manager Gene Watnaas recognizing his many contributions to the dairy industry.

The scholarship program is funded by members and supporters of the Upper Midwest Dairy Industry Association. UMDIA received many applications from outstanding candidates for the $1000 scholarship awards.

Theodore Jacoby

Theodore Jacoby is a junior at SDSU majoring in Dairy Manufacturing, specialization in Microbiology, TJ is passionate about the science of dairy manufacturing after completing two summer internships at Agropur’s Lake Norden plant, and accepted for a 2020 internship at Agropur’s Jerome, Idaho facility. Theodore’s interest in food science started in high school and he is intrigued on how casein, whey proteins, Lactose, and minerals are suspended in a liquid naturally, how they interact with one another, and their applications. After college he is interested to work in a dairy plant and work my way up in the company and help promote the industry as well as contributing to UMDIA through their education programs.

Emily Annexstad

Emily grew up on a dairy farm near St. Peter, MN and was involved with the day to day activities from feeding calves to milking cows and everything in between. Emily served as the 2017 Princess Kay of the Milky Way helping connect consumers and championed stories of dairy farmers and the benefits of dairy during a variety of events. Emily Annexstad graduated with an Animal Science with an emphasis in Dairy Production and Agricultural Communication & Marketing majors at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Emily completed a summer internship with Dairy Management, Inc. in 2019 and plans to contribute to the dairy industry through a career in dairy marketing, communication, or promotion.

Isabella Portner

Isabella Portner grew up on a 270-head Brown Swiss dairy in Southern MN and participated in 4H, FFA and competed in both state and national dairy knowledge bowl and judging. She won the National Dairy Production Entrepreneurship Proficiency award through FFA. She is currently a junior majoring in Animal Science at ISU and plans to return to her home farm, Porthaven Dairy after graduation and contribute to the farm’s long-term sustainability. Isabella has interned with Riverview LLP introducing her to managing dairy on a large scale.

Upper Midwest Dairy Industry Association Gene Watnaas Scholarships

The Upper Midwest Dairy Industry Association is a non-profit group whose purpose is to promote the dairy industry by providing information, educational services, networks and contests that encourage improvement in the quality and safety of dairy and food products.

In an effort to recognize individuals pursuing post-secondary education in a field that will enhance the quality and safety of dairy and food products, UMDIA will be awarding one $1,000 scholarships to a qualified applicant. Applications are due January 31 each year.

Minimum eligibility for UMDIA Scholarship Applications:

  • Pursuing a degree in Animal Science with emphasis in dairy, Dairy Science, Food Animal Veterinary Medicine, Dairy Manufacturing, Dairy Technology or Dairy Food Science. (Other degree programs may be considered if there is strong evidence of commitment and contribution to the dairy industry.)
  • Applications from freshmen and sophomore students will only be considered in the absence of qualifying junior or senior applicants
  • Completed at least one semester with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Plans to complete their degree program
  • Reference letter (from a faculty member or dairy industry leader, not a family member)

Download the 2021 Scholarship Application here

Please note: This is an on-line Microsoft Word document.  When you have completed the form, save it and email it to us.

Past Scholarship Award Winners:

2019 Gene Watnaas Scholarship
Josh Brown, Elizabeth Endres, Rebekka Paskewitz
2018 Gene Watnaas Scholarship
Morgan Krause, Kirby Krogstad, Rachael O’Leary
2017 Gene Watnaas Scholarship
Brooke Carrow, Katherine Kindschuh
2016 Gene Watnaas Scholarship
Emmalee Blough, Johanna Knorr
2015 Gene Watnaas Scholarship
Jennifer Jelinski, Mary Leibenstein
2014 Gene Watnaas Scholarship
Emily Plapp, Sarah Roerick
2013 Gene Watnaas Scholarship
Jacob Achen, Matthew Holdvogt
2013 Pioneer Dairymen’s Club Memorial Scholarship
Ashley Adamski, Samantha Scroth
2012 Gene Watnaas Scholarship
Jessica Hammerand, Abigail Wirt
2012 Pioneer Dairymen’s Club Memorial Scholarship
Courtney Lasky
2011 Gene Watnaas Scholarship
April Johnson, Laura Weisz
2011 Pioneer Dairymen’s Club Memorial Scholarship
Megan Kleve
2010 Gene Watnaas Scholarship
Charlie Schiller, Abby Udermann
2010 Pioneer Dairymen’s Club Memorial Scholarship
Nicole Stevens
2009 Gene Watnaas Scholarships
Amber Hazel, Lucas Sjostrom
2009 Pioneer Dairymen’s Club Memorial Scholarship
Jacquelyne Koch
2007 & 2008 Gene Watnaas Scholarships
Jennifer Becker, Jacquelyne Koch, Samantha Wahls