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Karen Bohnert will be recognized with the 2024 Young Dairy Leaders Institute Distinguished Alumni Leader award during the upcoming YDLI Class 13 in Tampa, Florida

Karen Bohnert of East Moline, Illinois has been selected as the Holstein Foundation’s 2024 Young Dairy Leaders Institute Distinguished Alumni Leader. Each year, the Holstein Foundation recognizes a Young Dairy Leaders Institute (YDLI) graduate or couple who have made noteworthy contributions to the dairy industry, applying skills gained during their YDLI experience.

“YDLI was a game changer for me in terms of professional development and learning to become comfortable in getting dairy messages out to others,” Bohnert says.

Bohnert grew up on her family’s 100-cow dairy farm in central Oregon and graduated from Oregon State University in 1998 with a B.S. in agricultural economics and a minor in writing. Her agricultural communications career spans 25 years, including roles with the American Jersey Cattle Association, Cooperative Resources International, and Swiss Valley Farms. She is the current editor of Dairy Herd Management and MILK Business Quarterly.

Karen and her husband Scott, along with his brother and parents, own and operate Bohnert Jerseys, a 650-cow dairy. They are raising their three children on the farm. A talented communicator, Bohnert was a trendsetter in advocating for dairy on social media.

“Karen has a genuine interest in telling the stories that are important to our industry because of her strong connection with and passion for dairy farmers,” says Holstein Foundation Chair Michele Ruby. “Karen is a gem of a human, an ace of a colleague and has a sense of humor that can get her and anyone around her through any situation.”

Karen participated in YDLI from 2002-2003 and is a Class 4 graduate. She credits YDLI for helping her find her life calling and purpose telling the stories of fellow dairy producers.

“YDLI exposed me to people working in different parts of the industry and I really valued the different perspectives other YDLI class members offered,” Karen says. “From the hands on YDLI learning, I’ve made several friendships and invaluable network connections that have helped shape my career in the dairy industry.”

Karen will be recognized during Phase I of YDLI Class 13, being held January 29 through February 1, 2024, in Tampa, Florida.

The Young Dairy Leaders Institute, a program of the Holstein Foundation, is a nationally recognized three-phase leadership and communication skills development program for young adults (ages 22-45) working in the dairy industry. For more information about YDLI or Holstein Foundation programs, visit

The Holstein Foundation's education, leadership development and outreach programs serve both youth and young adults across the country who are involved with all breeds of dairy cattle.

The Holstein Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization founded in 1989. It is headquartered in Brattleboro, Vermont, and shares office space with its parent organization, Holstein Association USA, Inc.