The person she was describing was Dean Strauss of Majestic Crossing Dairy in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, who was chosen as the Dairy Business Association’s (DBA) annual Dairy Advocate of the Year.
“Strauss believes in investing in the community in not only time, but resources,” Winkelman said, presenting the honor on behalf of Vita Plus Corp.
A tireless volunteer, Strauss shares his time and talents as a leader in various capacities. He serves on the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center board; the board of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; the executive board of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin; and as chairman of the Dairy Policy Committee for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. He’s a past president of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin and a former member of the Wisconsin Beef Council board of directors.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” Strauss said of his donation of time and energy. “People are important; the community matters.”
Winkelman rattled off a number of the Strauss family’s community-based efforts.
“Their farm buys market animals at the fair, supports local car racing and donates to their local food bank,” she said.
But one effort in particular elevated Strauss when it came to being selected by DBA as advocate of the year. The family purchased land half a mile from their farm, on which stood a run-down horse arena. The original plan was to store machinery in the building, but that changed when they realized this facility could hold a higher purpose to the community. The mother of a child with autism told them about REINS, an equine-assisted therapy program.
The Strausses worked with the REINS organization to see what it would take to get the arena usable for the group.
“Countless volunteers came together to help renovate the building and the surrounding area,” Winkelman said.
Now, the horse arena provides not only a place for therapy, but also an opportunity for others to give back. Area companies encourage their employees to spend a day volunteering with REINS in place of a day of work.
The Ag in the Classroom program is another of the Strausses’ community commitments. Last year, they hosted 1,000 fourth-graders on the farm over two days.
“Some people don’t want to do something unless it benefits them,” Strauss said, “but investing in the community and getting people on the farm breaks down walls and helps everyone.”
To hear what Strauss had to say after accepting the DBA Advocate of the Year award, watch this video.
To see more about Strauss’s impact on the community, watch this video.
The Dairy Strong Bloggers series is brought to you on behalf of the Dairy Strong conference, Jan. 22-23, 2020, in Madison, Wisconsin. This event focuses on cutting-edge technology, cultural trends and the future of the dairy community. Learn more and register at the Dairy Strong website.