Alumna to receive CALS Distinguished Alumni Award

15022068499_74f46d743c_oShelly Mayer says she hasn’t worked a day since 1988 — but that’s only because she has loved what she does since she graduated from the Department of Life Sciences Communication that year.

It’s because this love shines through in her work as executive director of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin and her numerous other endeavors that she has been selected to receive the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award.

“I am extremely honored to receive this award,” Mayer said, who graduated when LSC was still called Agricultural Journalism. “I don’t feel a whole lot different than when I left college as a student so it’s making me think about all I’ve been through.”

Mayer was nominated by the Department of Life Sciences Communication but also the Department of Dairy Science because of her work with PDPW. She, along with other agricultural leaders and scientists, will be honored at the Oct. 16 awards banquet.

PDPW is a professional development organization for Wisconsin’s dairy farmers. It focuses on education, networking, and professional development to help dairy farmers build more profitable businesses.

Since she started working full-time for PDPW in 2001, Mayer has helped the organization grow from 50 members and a $10,000 annual budget to more than 1,600 members and a $1 million annual budget.

“I think a big reason I got this award is because my name is tied to such a great organization,” Mayer said. “I really think the honor goes to the people I work for and our amazing organization.”

Mayer also gives back to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in multiple ways, such as educational programing, securing funding for various projects, and serving as a mentor to those interested in dairy science and communication.

Dominique Brossard, chair of the Department of Life Sciences Communication, is also very glad the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences saw the value in what Mayer does with her degree.

“I am very excited to see an LSC alumna getting this well-deserved award,” Brossard said. “Seeing one of our alumna serve as a crucial member of the dairy industry community is just amazing.”

Kent Weigel, chair of the Department of Dairy Science, said Mayer was an obvious choice because of her ability to see the “big picture.”

“Shelly has high standards, a positive attitude, and isn’t afraid of hard work, and these qualities show through in everything PDPW does,” Weigel said. “Most importantly, though, is that in my mind she puts the ‘professional’ in Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin and insists that the members think of themselves as professional businessmen/women and act the part in everything they do at the local, state, and national levels.”

Mayer said she feels very fortunate to be able help the PDPW board of directors put their visions into place and help dairy farmers succeed across the state.

“Farming is changing just like every other profession,” she said. “But few people get to run into a job where they just love what they do and also get recognized for it. My husband and I are also dairy farmers and come from families of farmers. I get to work for my people.”

For more information about Mayer, recipients of the other awards, and the awards banquet see the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences press release: http://news.cals.wisc.edu/2014/09/12/cals-will-honor-three-wisconsin-ag-leaders-and-two-uw-scientists-at-oct-16-awards-banquet/