Dr. Travis Hawkins, of Akron, was elected as president of the Northwest Iowa Sheep Producers.
He began his duties of the position at the NWISP annual banquet Jan. 14, 2017, in Le Mars.
Hawkins and his wife, Kaylene, raise crossbred commercial sheep on their farm south of Akron.
The Northwest Iowa Sheep Producers meet quarterly at various locations throughout the region in addition to educational seminars or field trips during the year.
This year’s annual meeting was held at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in LeMars with 63 members, families, and guests in attendance.
Tom and Marilyn Schwebach of Egan, S.D., were the main speakers discussing the impacts of OPP (Ovine Progressive Pneumonia) in their flock and their efforts to eliminate this disease from their animals.
Two students from Dordt College also presented on their project of educating fellow animal science students about sheep production and diseases.
New officers were elected for the coming year including Travis Hawkins of Akron as president, Shane Kirschten of Alton as secretary, Paula Meendering of Hull as treasurer, and George and Becky Scholten of Sioux Center acting as wool products coordinators.
The Scholtens will be in charge of inventory and sales of the various wool products sold at the Clay County Fair in Spencer as well as sales throughout the year. At this time, the office of vice-president is still open.
At the annual meeting, a mission statement was adopted, stating “The Mission of the Northwest Iowa Sheep Producers is to promote lamb and wool products, provide educational and networking opportunities for sheep producers, support the advancement of sheep and wool production, and advocate for sheep producers in the area, state, region, and nation.”
Another major topic of discussion is the impending vacancy of the Sheep Extension Specialist and Professor position at Iowa State University due to the planned retirement of Dr. Dan Morrical. Attendees at the meeting signed three letters that were sent to the chair of the Animal Science Department, the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the President of Iowa State University urging them to quickly fill the vacancy rather than eliminate the position.
The members believe that an individual who can conduct sheep research, teaching, and extension functions at our state’s land grant institution is vital to the future of the sheep industry in the region.
Membership in NWISP is only $10 per year. Any sheep producers or anyone interested in sheep production is welcome to join.
The next meeting is planned for this Thursday, April 6 in Sheldon.
For more information, contact any of the officers or visit the website at www.northwestiowasheepproducers.com.