National Dairy Shrine has the privilege to honor five individuals for their lifetime service with the coveted Pioneer Award. These gentlemen are outstanding representatives of the dairy industry. Their recognition as Pioneers of the National Dairy Shrine only adds to the honor roll of leaders in the National Dairy Hall of Fame.
One of this year’s honorees is the well-known photographer and merchandiser Gerald Strandlund. “Jerry” of Bellingham, Washington, has been promoting cattle and breeders through his photos, publications and mentoring support for all his life.
Strandlund, born and raised on his parents’ dairy farm in Mora, Minnesota, grew up milking 19 cows. Jerry attended the University of Minnesota completing the Herdsman Short Course. He continued his undergraduate studies and in 1962 graduated with a degree in Animal Husbandry. In 1958, Jerry was the first recipient of the Frank B Astroth Scholarship at the University of Minnesota.
His respect for topnotch dairy cattle and passionate agriculturists was fostered through a number of internships while studying at the University of Minnesota including Hugo Albrecht, Carnation Milk Farms, Piney Hill Farm, and Elmwood Farm, just to name a few. During college Jerry was also exposed to some of the great showmen of the time. Jerry notes that he had occasion to work for two of the early Klussendorf Award honorees. In 1959 Jerry worked with Al Hay traveling some 5,000 miles in a box car with the Carnation Farms show string which featured the All American aged cow that year. Then, in 1961 he worked at Elmwood Farm, Lake Forest, IL, where Scotty McVinnie worked. What an amazing experience for someone who was still a student at the University of Minnesota. For Jerry, those were the days! Jerry well remembers carrying the Klussendorf trophy that Al Hay won in 1958 off the box car at Waterloo in 1959 to be presented later in the week to Nelson McCammon. Later it was a big honor for Jerry to be named an Honorary Al Hay Award Recipient recognizing his show ring work.
After graduation, Strandlund went on to work as a herdsman for Mor-Ayr Farm of Red Wing Minnesota. While there, he was instrumental in helping the herd achieve the prestige of being the highest average classified herd of any breed in the state, and most notably mated and bred the only 97-point cow of the U.S. Ayrshire breed. One of the greatest honors at the National Dairy Show in Waterloo, Iowa was the individual herdsman award given to the best managed exhibit in each breed and in 1964 Jerry was the Ayrshire breed winner.
In 1967, Strandlund became the Western Regional Fieldman for Holstein Association USA, servicing seven western states. He kept busy traveling between farm visits, shows, sales, and meetings. He fell in love with the area and established roots in the state of Washington. In this association position, he was active in organizing the first production-based Holstein show in the country. Former Holstein Association USA’s president Randy Gross said, “Jerry has remained a rock of stability in a changing industry while serving in a number of capacities. His faith in the value of Registered Holsteins, and those who work with them, is always evident.”
Jerry later went on to be the Marketing Manager for All-West Breeders, developing the “Family Album” sire directory and “One Jump Ahead” advertising campaigns. In 1976, after four years he left All-West Breeders and started his cattle photography business, Bovagraph. This allowed him to visit farms, sales and shows across the western states picturing local herds, show winners and sale consignments. There was a need in the western dairy industry for such service, and Jerry eagerly filled it. He traveled long hours as he built his new business. During the past 35 years, he hasn’t missed a single Western Spring National Holstein Show. He regularly attended the Washington, Oregon, and Idaho state shows and sales, volunteering his time to photograph the class winners.
It was not long before his small photography business blossomed into a full-fledged publishing company. A monthly newspaper-style publication Northwest Holstein News soon grew into yearly Holstein annuals for many western states; in 2012 those yearling annuals merged into one robust Northwest Holstein Annual, incorporating four states and British Columbia. As editor of the Northwest Holstein News for over 40 years, Jerry has been an integral part of many events. His desire for breeders to succeed was evident in each quarterly and annual publication. Mr. Strandlund also began a publication called B C Holstein News for British Columbia Holstein breeders and for a few years published Western Jersey news. In addition, Jerry was a member of the Holstein Association USA’s History Project Committee.
His interest and passion for registered cattle has never wavered and there is no doubt Jerry’s passion for the dairy business rubbed off on others. Another Holstein Association USA past president Larry Tande shares, “Jerry has made great contributions, through his leadership, in the Northwestern part of the United States. Jerry’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the Holstein breed has helped many breeders, young and old, with advice and direction for the future of their operations.”
For his dedication to the industry, Gerald Strandlund has been the recipient of numerous awards including: Honorary Al Hay Award Recipient, Washington State Mr. Holstein, and Holstein Association USA 2017 Distinguished Leadership Award, and several other distinguished service awards.
Strandlund will receive the 2018 Pioneer Recognition at the annual National Dairy Shrine Awards Banquet on Thursday, October 4th in Madison, Wisconsin.
Information on the National Dairy Shrine membership is also available online at www.dairyshrine.org