Honorary Recognition

Each year CALS recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to their communities, their chosen career fields, and the citizens of the state and the nation. CALS has three awards: the Honorary Recognition Award, the Distinguished Service Award, and the Distinguished Alumni Award.


About the Awards

  • The Honorary Recognition Award – Established in 1909, this award was championed by Dean Harry L. Russell and Wisconsin Governor William D. Hoard. This award honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding and inspirational leadership, integrity and unselfish service, making significant contributions in the areas of agriculture, life sciences, natural resources and social science. Over the past 100 years, the college has saluted more than 500 individuals who have given both time and talent to improve the lives of many and enrich society for us all.
  • The Distinguished Service Award – This award was established in 1994 in celebration of the college’s excellent faculty and staff. This award recognize university faculty and staff members for exceptionally meritorious service to the college and university, to the citizens of Wisconsin, and to people around the nation and the world.
  • The Distinguished Alumni Award – Introduced in 2009, this award recognizes a career of outstanding achievement through extraordinary contributions to one’s chosen field or an exemplary record of public service.

Save the date: The 2017 Honorary Recognition Awards Banquet and Ceremony will be held on Thursday, October 19.

  • Reception at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m.
  • Varsity Room, Union South, 1308 W. Dayton Street, Madison
  • Please call 608/890-2999 for more information

Free parking is available after 4:30 p.m. in Lot 17 (1525 Engineering Drive) and Lot 20 (1390 University Avenue). Additional parking is available for a fee in the Union South parking garage (enter on Dayton Street).

2016 Award Winners

  • Honorary Recognition: Ben Brancel, Bernard Easterday and Richard “Otto” Wiegand
  • Distinguished Service Award: Daryl Lund
  • Distinguished Alumni Award: Gary Onan

Ben Brancel began his career in agriculture on his family farm. In 1972, he graduated with a degree in animal science from the University Wisconsin-Platteville, and returned to the farm where he and his wife Gail would eventually take over operations. His progress in farming provided him with immediate respect and recognition in the farming industry. Though some would think he was at the pinnacle of a successful career, Brancel still had dreams and ambitions that surpassed his farm. From 1987 to 1997, Brancel demonstrated his political dexterity in the Wisconsin State Assembly and was later elected to the respected position of Assembly Speaker. Though he quickly established himself in the political world, Brancel never forgot his roots in agriculture. Whenever possible, he fought for legislation that benefitted agriculture statewide. Since 1997, when he was appointed the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) by then Governor Tommy Thompson, he has held positions that allowed him to directly grow the industry responsible for his lifetime of success, including a position with the CALS’ Agricultural Research Stations and his current role as Secretary of DATCP under Governor Scott Walker.

Bernard Easterday is the founding dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After receiving his DVM degree from Michigan State University in 1952, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps where he conducted research on the transmission and pathogenesis of viral diseases of animals and humans. Following the completion of his military service, he earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Veterinary Science in the UW-Madison College of Agriculture (now the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences). He returned to the same department in 1961 as a faculty member, continuing research on viral diseases while discovering his passion for teaching and outreach. At UW-Madison, Easterday conducted and collaborated on multiple studies involving the interspecies transmission of viruses, which included uncovering the first conclusive evidence of swine influenza virus transmission from swine to humans. In 1978, he was appointed to lead the planning and development of the SVM, which was officially established in 1979. The first class of veterinary medical students was admitted upon completion of the construction of the school in 1983. Easterday, as emeritus dean and professor, continues to serve as an advisor and mentor to veterinary medical students.

Richard “Otto” Wiegand was born on a dairy farm in Cleveland in Manitowoc County, which he later operated in the 1980s. He attained four degrees over time, three of them in dairy science from UW-Madison. Wiegand worked in industry doing dairy employee placement and dairy expansion business planning for eight years before spending time teaching agriculture courses at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay as an adjunct instructor. Wiegand has been working for UW-Extension as an agriculture agent in Spooner for the past 12 years. His career has taken him around the world, starting in the Peace Corps in Kenya and Paraguay, conducting graduate studies in Ethiopia, consulting at the African Development Bank in Ivory Coast, and doing various international agricultural work, mostly with Farmer-to-Farmer projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Wiegand has been to 75 countries and worked in 20 of them. He has a wide range of expertise – from hands-on dairy farming and cropping systems to farm business planning and conservation. Avid passions for geography, history, political science, genealogy and photography add meaning to his travel and development work.

Daryl Lund received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics before earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. in food science with a minor in chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He began teaching in UW-Madison’s food science department in 1967 and remained a faculty member for the next 20 years, serving as chair of the department in 1984. In CALS, he served on numerous committees including as chair of the Business and Industry option for several years. At the university level, he served as chair of the Biological Sciences Divisional Committee. In the late 80s, he led the pioneering effort to renovate Babcock Hall  the use of private sector donations. Today, it is standard practice for private gifts to match state contributions to building projects at UW-Madison and other land grant universtities. After his impressive career at UW-Madison, Lund served two other land grant universities – Rutgers (1988-1995) and Cornell (1995-2000) – where he was a professor, chair, and dean. Lund followed his heart back to Madison where he served as the executive director of the North Central Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors until his retirement in 2007. Lund continues to make generous contributions to the UW-Madison food science department and acts as an exceptional advocate for the entire university.

Gary Onan earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in meat and animal science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduating, he pursued his dream of becoming a dairy farmer and spent nearly 20 years developing a respected Holstein herd and hands-on knowledge. Following the advice of his colleagues, Onan decided to harness his academic training and seek out a position in academia. He joined the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 1997, where he quickly came to be known for his creativity and inherent knack for teaching. He currently serves as chair and professor of animal and food science in the university’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences. Onan has received numerous awards over the years that recognize his efforts as a professor, mentor and researcher and for his contributions to youth livestock project programming and animal agriculture. Most recently, he was named the UW-River Falls 2015 Distinguished Teacher.

Download a PDF of past award winners.