The annual Friends of Expo banquet was held December 7, 2015 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis. to celebrate the hard work and dedication of the more than 500 World Dairy Expo volunteers and partners. Each year, Expo recognizes four outstanding individuals - who have gone above and beyond - with the Friend of Expo award. The 2015 award recipients were Envision IT LLC, Troy Esser, Rhonda Meinholz and Dean Hermsdorf.
A small, Madison-based company, Envision IT LLC is instrumental in producing World Dairy Expo's world-class website. Creating customized online features exclusively for Expo, including interactive trade show maps, dairy cattle show entry management system and online registration for international visitors and judging contests, Envision IT LLC helps Expo provide critical information to exhibitors and attendees. Always looking for ways to improve the Expo website, the company took on the challenge of creating a new responsive website design this year, complete with mobile-friendly capabilities.
Volunteering roughly 300 hours before, during and after Expo this year, Troy Esser worked to ensure the milking parlor was running at top shape, installing a customized backflush system. A 13-year employee with BouMatic, he was instrumental in designing and installing the milking parlor, when the New Holland Pavilions were built last year. Esser is involved with Expo year round, serving as a member of the Board of Directors since March 2015. He is also active in his local Black Earth, Wis. community, serving as a Village Trustee and Assistant Fire Chief.
Rhonda Meinholz has been a dedicated World Dairy Expo volunteer for the past 14 years. Starting out volunteering on the tram, Meinholz has since transitioned into working as a key volunteer for the Purple Cow Gift Shop. She volunteers her time to work all five and a half days the gift shop is open, running the cash register, restocking, helping customers and any other tasks to help the shop run smoothly. Meinholz is also active in other local agriculture organizations, including her local FFA and 4-H clubs. She and her husband, Brian, and their three children, Katelyn, Kelsey and Molly, reside in DeForest, Wis.
Dean Hermsdorf has been a key influencer of World Dairy Expo for well over two decades. A long-time member and chairman of the Commercial Exhibitor Committee, Hermsdorf has been the representative of the trade show exhibitors to the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for more than 15 years. He has seen Expo grow with the construction of the Exhibition Hall and New Holland Pavilions at the Alliant Energy Center, and grow in interest of attendees, commercial exhibitors and cattle exhibitors, alike. Hermsdorf currently works as the ABS Canada Customer Service/Logistics Team Supervisor and also manages a produce farm and beef herd in Cottage Grove, Wis., selling sweet corn, pumpkins and other produce to local grocers and exhibiting his animals with his children at local, state and national levels.
Also recognized at the Friends of Expo banquet were Corey Geiger and Steve Larson, co-chairs of the World Dairy Expo Book Committee, who volunteered hundreds of hours to complete Expo's 50th anniversary history book, "We Need a Show." Geiger and Larson were presented with commemorative clocks in honor of their dedication, and fellow dedicated members of the Hoard's Dairyman staff were also recognized.
Recognized as the meeting place for the global dairy industry, World Dairy Expo attracts more than 70,000 attendees from over 90 countries to Madison, Wis. each year. The annual event will take place October 4 8, 2016 with the theme of "Celebrate 50!" to commemorate its golden anniversary. Visit worlddairyexpo.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@WDExpo or #Celebrate50) for more information.