Richard Mensendike Elizabeth, Illinois Lanark Dairy Specialist Vita Plus
What education are you bringing with you to this position?
I attended college at theUniversity of Wisconsin – Plattevilleand majored in animal science with an emphasis in meat and livestock. I enjoyed beef cattle, but knew that most job opportunities were going to be more concentrated in dairy. For that reason, I took as many dairy classes as I could, including nutrition, dairy cattle evaluation and dairy management.
I was fortunate enough to also be able to take some other management classes, such as beef and swine management, which helped me become well rounded and diversified in agriculture.
Please describe your agricultural background?
I got my start in agriculture thanks to my father when I was five years old. My dad gave me a beef cow, which started my interest in farming. When I was in high school, I started completing FFA record books for my beef cattle and hay ground. I also started learning more about dairy cows when I started milking cows for another farm.
Throughout college, I continued milking cows full-time and really became partial to dairy cattle, although I will always enjoy having a few beef animals.
What are your new responsibilities?
My job is to provide dairy producers with reliable service. My wide range of responsibilities includes ration formulation, consulting, on-farm troubleshooting, understanding farm records, coordinating feed information and ultimately providing recommendations that benefit the producer.
What territory will you cover?
I will work with dairy producers throughout northwest Illinois.
What previous positions have you held?
Up until a year ago, I was an owner of a small crossbred beef cow herd. The herd calved in the spring and I sold feeder calves to help pay for college. While I was in school, I held a few different milking jobs. I worked for Sunny-Valley Holsteins for almost two years until the farm’s complete dispersal sale in 2011.
I also worked for GBM Holsteins in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Both farms offered a great chance to learn about genetics and milk potential in modern Holstein cows. Both farms taught me a lot about the registered dairy industry.
What excites you most about working in your new role?
I’m most excited about working with dairy producers to help improve their farms. I know that every farm faces its own unique set of challenges that can change constantly, but that’s what makes this position the most interesting.
Every day is different and I look forward to the opportunity to work through those challenges with dairy producers to help them find solutions that will strengthen their businesses for the long term.
How will you be of most help to producers in your region or area of expertise?
I have spent plenty of time on a farm growing up. I know what is and isn’t practical. I want to provide a service to the producer that not only deals with current challenges, but also identifies other issues before they become problems.
Why did you choose this company?
I was drawn to Vita Plus because it was a chance for me to return home and still be a part of agriculture. As I learned more about the company, I started to realize what a great opportunity this position is. The most intriguing component of this company is employee ownership and that ultimately sealed the deal for me.
What goals would you like to accomplish while in this position?
My most important goal is to provide the best service I possibly can to producers. I want to be someone they can lean on and depend on. I would like to increase farm profitability with all of my customers and help push them toward high production goals. PD