Upper Midwest Dairy Industry Association

Upper Midwest Dairy Industry Association Gene Watnaas Scholarship

2022 Scholarship Application Open

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)

Congratulations to our 2021 Gene Watnaas Scholarship Winners

The Gene Watnaas Scholarship Winners for 2021 are Fred Mansfield and Madeline Zutz. 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.

UMDIA received many highly qualified applications from outstanding candidates for the $1000 scholarship awards. Below are the awardees for 2021:

Fred Mansfield

Fred Mansfield is currently a University of Minnesota veterinary student. Fred hopes through his education, connections and skills he can help dairy producers enhance their production, profit and happiness. Fred has completed internships at Riverview Dairy as well as Minnesota Select Sires, which were important to his development as well as gaining hands on experience. He grew up in the Kerkhoven area but didn’t grow up on a farm.

Fred has been very active taking on a lot of leadership roles in high school as well as college before joining pursuing his passion to become a veterinarian. Fred has plans to specialize in bovine medicine while working in the Midwest and hopes to focus on reproductive practices on dairy farms. In his application he also states that veterinarians and dairy producers work in partnership to ensure the safety of our food supply.  

Madeline Zutz

Madeline is a veterinarian student at the University of Wisconsin Madison planning to graduate in 2024. She wants to contribute her skills towards making the dairy industry thrive. Madeline was introduced to the dairy industry through her father’s work as a crop consultant. She started to lease cattle in middle school to show at the Manitowoc County fair and joined the dairy judging team, dairy bowl and served as president of the Junior Holstein Association. In high school she worked on a dairy learning about the business of dairy farming as well as shadowing veterinarians throughout high school and college.

As she gained experience her passion for the industry grew and served as a dairy princess for her county. Madeline is passionate about finding ways to enhance animal welfare while concentrating on efficiency on the dairy farm. She also sees communication and advocacy to be incredibly important and hopes that her role as a veterinarian can contribute to the success of the industry even starting her own Instagram page to share her experiences. Madeline grew up near Valders, Wisconsin.

The scholarship program is funded by members and supporters of the Upper Midwest Dairy Industry Association. In addition we received a generous donation from Nelson-Jameson and the Central Plains Dairy Foundation to expand the number of scholarships we were able to offer this year. 

Nelson-Jameson is a trusted source of food processing supplies, that represents over 850 vendors and distributes over 55,000 products in the broad categories of: processing; maintenance/repair/operations, laboratory and QA/QC, ingredients, packaging, and chemicals.   

Nelson-Jameson products are backed by an expert staff, with a vast amount of plant experience and technical expertise, creating a unique environment of personal service and commitment to your products. The products they offer strive to help lower transaction costs while providing the products and services needed to produce safe, quality food. The Central Plains Dairy Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 organization, is committed to investing in proactive programming supporting the dairy industry along the I-29 Corridor in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota.

Past Scholarship Award Winners:

2020 Gene Watnaas Scholarship
Emily Annexstad, Theodore Jacoby, Isabella Portner
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