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UWRF alumnus named 2015 Wisconsin Distinguished Agriculturalist

May 6, 2015

Jim Holte, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation (WFBF), was honored as the 2015 Wisconsin Distinguished Agriculturalist by the UW-River Falls College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at its 49th Annual Scholarship and Awards Banquet on April 23.

Holte is serving his third term as president of the WFBF and was recently elected to the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors.

His involvement with the WFBF began with the young farmer program, which led to a stint as county board president and eventually to his election to the WFBF Board of Directors in 1995, representing Northwestern Wisconsin.

Holte formerly chaired the Wisconsin Livestock Siting Review Board, served on the boards for Growmark, Inc. and Leadership Wisconsin, and served as a citizen board member for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. He is also a past president of the Wisconsin Beef Council, a graduate of the Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program and in 2005 he was named a Wisconsin Master Agriculturist.

Holte owns Riv-r-vale Farms in Elk Mound, Wisconsin, where he raises 350 to 400 head of beef cattle and grows corn, soybeans and alfalfa on 460 acres. His great-grandfather settled in the area in 1884. Locally, he served 18 years on the Elk Mound School Board and remains active at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

“Jim’s background and experience in agriculture, combined with his service to others in the industry, as well as his local community and beyond, make him an outstanding recipient for this award,” said Dale Gallenberg, Dean of CAFES, during the award presentation.

At the Scholarship and Awards Banquet, Holte, a 1975 UWRF graduate, shared with the many current students in the attendance.

“It is difficult to appreciate the impacts that the people we meet and the opportunities that are presented to us will have on our lives,” Holte said. “As an example, Gayle and I met as students at UWRF, married and raised a family. Also, I look back at the many instructors and fellow students that gave me positive support both personally and professionally. An award of this kind is a reflection, not of a person but of a society that creates opportunity for people to succeed.”

Holte was presented with a framed copy of the charcoal sketch of his portrait that now resides in the Agriculture Hall of Fame in the Ag Sci building on campus, along with the other honorees.

The Wisconsin Distinguished Agriculturalist Award was established in 1970 to recognize individuals who have provided leadership, service and other contributions to the broader agricultural community. For more information, call 425-3535 or visit www.uwrf.edu/CAFES/Awards.cfm.