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Jeff Galle with Whitney Thomson
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Terry Kestner with Whitney Thomson
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Taylor Steinberg with Claudia Bland
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Gordon Roskamp with Claudia Bland
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Monte Lowderman with Alicia Flowers
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Chris (Mosher) Wilson with Alicia Flowers
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Martin (Marty) E. O’Connor with Claudia Bland
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Philip E. Bradshaw with Alicia Flowers
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WIU School of Agriculture Honors 10 Alumni on Department's 100th Anniversary

March 5, 2020


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MACOMB, IL – As part of the Western Illinois University School of Agriculture's 100th anniversary celebration, 10 distinguished alumni were honored during a ceremony the same weekend as the 50th annual Farm Expo, Feb. 8-9.

Each alumnus has a distinguished career in the agricultural career field.

"The 100th year anniversary event was a huge success," said School of Agriculture Director Andy Baker. "The highlight of the evening was the recognition of our 10 distinguished alumni who were honored that night. All of these individuals have achieved remarkable feats in their careers and are huge supporters of the School of Agriculture. It was great to have our current students hear about their experiences at WIU, and how these experiences provided the foundation to advance their careers in agriculture. We hope to continue this event in the future, so we can honor more distinguished alumni deserving of this recognition."  

This year's honorees included:

• Mark McCully, a 1993 graduate with a degree in agriculture: McCully is Chief Executive Officer of the American Angus Association in St. Joseph, MO, the nation's largest beef breed registry with 25,000 members. He was appointed CEO in June 2019 and directs the organization's efforts to advance the Angus breed and increase the production of consistent, high quality beef through efforts of the Association and its four wholly-owned subsidiaries - Angus Genetics Inc., Angus Media, Angus Foundation and Certified Angus Beef LLC.

Previously, McCully was vice president of production at Certified Angus Beef LLC, and was responsible for the brand's supply chain efforts. He led strategies incorporating the seedstock, cow-calf, feeding and packing sectors to raise and process high quality Angus cattle with the brand's unrivaled quality standards.

McCully joined the company in 2000 as director of packing. In June 2002, he helped develop and then coordinate a regional sales team to serve retail, foodservice and international business partners. In March 2005, he transitioned to supply development and production. McCully is an accomplished livestock evaluator and has judged over 300 state, regional and national cattle shows throughout the United States, Canada and Brazil.

At WIU he served on the Livestock Judging Team. He and his wife, Gerry, have two children, Austin and Madison.

"WIU was such an important chapter in my educational journey," said McCully. "My wife, also a WIU alumna, and I developed lifelong friends and truly treasure our time spent in Macomb. We are incredibly grateful for the dedicated professors and staff that gave us such a great experience. I am incredibly humbled to be recognized with this honor."

Gerry Salzman, a 1971 graduate with a degree in agricultural economics: Salzman, principal, GES International LLC, provides consulting on global agricultural strategies, focusing on farm equipment and services. In 2014, he retired as senior director of global marketing after 42 years of service with International Harvester and CaseIH. He also is a patent award recipient.

Salzman was elected to four terms on the board of directors of the United States Grains Council. In 2012, Salzman received the lifetime achievement award from the council. As a graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program, he was honored with the inaugural Torch of Leadership award in 2014.

Salzman currently serves on the board of directors of the National Alpha Gamma Rho Educational Foundation. He also serves on the Parish Council of St. Joseph Parish in Libertyville, IL. In 2015, he co-authored the book "RED Combines" with Lee Klancher. He is a member of Alpha Gamma Rho (Brother of the Century Recognition) and Alpha Zeta fraternities. He is also a member of Blue Key. He served six years in the U.S. Army Reserves.

At WIU, Salzman served on the University Union Board and was a member of Blue Key. He was also Mr. Greek 1971, and was involved in the Student Government Association, the Inter Fraternity Council and the Ag Economics Club.

He and his wife, Judy, have two children, Amanda and Adam, and five grandchildren.

"The biggest asset any University can have is it's teaching core," said Salzman. "I was fortunate enough to have had instructors that not only taught but inspired. It was evident, to me they had a true commitment to their profession, with the sole mission to insure their students had the tools to succeed. They went above and beyond to connect the academic portion to real world examples. They took the initiative to include field trips and develop both national and international field study programs, as well as their willingness to meet with students outside of class when needed. The centennial of WIU's School of Agriculture is not only a celebration of the success of the students, but also the professors who taught, led and inspired them."

Jeff Galle, a 1978 graduate with a degree in agriculture, teacher education: After graduation, Galle earned his doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and has more than 40 years of experience as an animal science professor at John Wood Community College (JWCC).

Galle was awarded professor emeritus status by JWCC upon his retirement from the college in the summer of 2010 and continues to teach part time every year since his retirement. Having been appointed as a member of the National Pork Board, by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 2006-2009, Galle has been and continues to be a leader not only for GPPE, but also the U. S. pork industry, having served on a number and variety of committees at both the state and national level.

As founder and president of GPPE, Ltd., Galle's responsibilities are all-inclusive, from overseeing all aspects of project creation, procurement, strategic planning, implementation and project monitoring, to the general oversight of all operations. Current and past activities include work with the National Pork Board, John Wood Community College, the Illinois Community College Board, Pike Pig Systems, Inc., and U.S. Pork Center for Excellence (USPCE-Pork Information Gateway), Rabdion, LTD, Jerusalem, Israel and the development of a start-up pork production system in Southeast Asia, in the country of Laos, PDR.

At WIU, Galle was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho and the Livestock Judging Team.

"I was humbled and surprised when I learned I was being recognized," said Galle. "I made it back to WIU for the anniversary dinner and it was an amazing opportunity to be able to say 'thank you.' I had so many good professors, and there was such a diversity of activities available."

• Terry Kestner, a 1984 graduate with a degree in agriculture: Kestner is the vice president and chief appraiser for Rabo Diversified Services, a subsidiary of Rabobank. He has traveled extensively across the United States reviewing and supervising appraisals of agriculture and ag-related properties.

Kestner began his career with an internship at Production Credit Association in Macomb during his last semester at WIU, which became a 23-year full-time position with the Farm Credit System. The first five years of his career were as a loan officer working in McDonough, Fulton and Hancock Counties. When a full-time appraiser position opened in Macomb in 1989, Kestner made the change to a profession that he has truly enjoyed.

During these 23 years, he served 16 years on the School of Agriculture Alumni Board, 10 years as AGR Chapter Advisor and taught the rural appraisal course at WIU for seven years.  He was named chief appraiser in 2013, with the responsibility for California and Rabobank Wholesale being added in 2019.

At WIU, Kestner was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho. Kestner lives in Cedar Falls, IA, with his wife, Diane (a 1998 graduate with a master's degree in sociology) and daughters Kelly and Jill. 

"I was very surprised and honored to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Agriculture," he said. "WIU has provided me with a well-rounded education that included opportunities for hands-on experience and to grow personally in my self-confidence through those experiences. Those experiences are what drive me to be able to give back to the university and the future generations of agricultural professionals."

• Taylor Steinberg, a 1967 graduate with a degree in agricultural mechanization: Steinberg grew up on the family farm in Calhoun County, with an education in agriculture, hard work and the responsibilities required to make tough decisions at an early age. Raising corn, soybeans, hogs and cattle taught him a great deal about the opportunities available in the field of agriculture.

A 1962 graduate of Pleasant Hill High School, attending WIU was a logical choice. After graduating from WIU, the agricultural division of International Harvester Company was his career path of choice for the next 18 years. After six years at the corporate level, and spending much of the time on the road, the transition to an agricultural equipment and truck dealership in Pittsfield, IL, was an easy choice.

As president of Pikeland International, Inc. for the next 12 years, Steinberg learned a great deal about the challenges that developed in agriculture in the early 1980s. After ceasing dealer operations in 1985, he began a 35-year career in sales and marketing at the Knapheide Manufacturing Company in Quincy, IL. After retiring 10 years ago, Steinberg's work continues as a contract employee for Knapheide, enjoying a number of responsibilities, including corporate sales training, writing for an industry publication and working trade shows. His plans are to continue training Knapheide distributor and commercial truck dealer sales personnel in the United States for as long as possible.
Steinberg is honored to serve a second term on the advisory board for the WIU School of Agriculture.

At WIU as a freshman, Steinberg met his wife, Lorraine (a 1966 graduate with a degree in communication), and they recently celebrated their 53rd anniversary in December. As a hobby, he and his wife enjoy traveling, spending time with their two children's families and operating Steinberg Farms, in continuous operation since 1865. Steinberg was a member of Theta Xi (formerly Kappa Sigma Kappa) at Western.

"For almost 53 years, after graduating from WIU, I've enjoyed creating solutions for all types of agricultural and commercial customers," said Steinberg. "I wish to thank all of the professors and staff at Western Illinois University for opening up a wonderful world of opportunities. They taught me one very important lesson, 'How much I really didn't know,' as this helped start my career of continued learning to help and serve others.

• Gordon Roskamp, a 1971 graduate with a degree in agronomy: Roscamp was raised on a grain and livestock farm in western Illinois. He earned master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Missouri in 1973 and 1975 respectively. He immediately accepted a teaching position at WIU in the Department of Agriculture, where he completed 36 years.

Teaching responsibilities included introductory crop science, integrated pest management, weed science, field and forage crops production and soil management. 

Roskamp served as advisor to the WIU Agronomy Club, which is affiliated with the American Society of Agronomy. He also organized and hosted field days at the Agronomy Farm, and was frequently invited to give presentations on pertinent weed management topics. He became interested in weed science as an undergraduate worker for Professor Emeritus Rodney Fink. Since that time, he worked with the major herbicide manufacturers generating field plot data representing the weed problems and environmental conditions in the western Illinois region. 

Roskamp also managed the crops at the WIU Farm, where students gained hands-on experience growing field and forage crops, while identifying and solving weed, insect, disease, nematode and vertebrate pest problems. He is currently adjunct professor at Illinois Central College, where he has taught integrated pest management and precision agriculture, while conducting plot work on the ICC Farm and serving on the Ag Advisory Board.

"The professors at Western, in the School of Agriculture, gave me an insatiable desire to learn, and the basics to build a career in agronomy," said Roskamp. "I am honored to be named among so many great WIU ag grads."

• Monte Lowderman, a 1990 graduate with a degree in agriculture business: Lowderman is a second-generation auctioneer and realtor. Upon graduating from WIU, he joined the family auction business full-time. Since then, he has become one of the nation's leading and most experienced real estate auctioneers.

While attending WIU, Lowderman graduated from the Missouri Auction School at age 19. He became a member of Alpha Gamma Rho and Hoof-n-Horn. He served as vice president and ex-officio officer of the board of directors for the National Jr. Hereford Association. He was a member of the 1989 WIU award-winning Inter Collegiate Livestock Judging team, where he finished 17th high individual overall at the National Contest held during the NAILE in Louisville, KY.

Lowderman said he is personally proud of founding the "WIU Legacy" auction that has raised close to $200,000 so far for the WIU School of Agriculture. He was elected to a three-year term on the board of directors of the National Auctioneers Association, where he served on several committees and was a co-founder of the International Ring-man Championship. During that time, Lowderman became a champion auctioneer, and was recognized as a leader and auction authority.

He is a proud supporter and strong advocate of WIU Agriculture and Athletics, as well as 4-H, FFA and the Junior Livestock programs. At speaking engagements with younger generations, he always refers to a quote from Orion Samuelson, a National Farm Market reporter, "Find Something that you love so much that you would do it for free, and then do that job so well that you get paid for it."

Lowderman is married to Carrie Craig Lowderman, who he first met at WIU. They have been married for 26 years and live in Macomb. They have one son, Rhett, who is currently attending Black Hawk East Community College on an Intercollegiate Livestock Judging Scholarship. Monte, Carrie and Rhett enjoy exhibiting livestock (beef and swine), throughout the country. Other hobbies include attending collegiate and high school basketball games and collecting livestock and stockyard memorabilia.

"A motto I have used is, 'Success is not a goal, but rather a pathway,'" said Lowderman. "My pathway was definitely enhanced by my education at Western Illinois University, while making a positive impact on my life. The experiences I had while attending Western Illinois University made a direct, positive impact on my education, and prepared me for the real world and my career."

• Chris (Mosher) Wilson, a 1976 graduate with a degree in agriculture: Wilson is a farmer, rancher and attorney. She was raised on a grain and livestock farm in west central Illinois and holds a degree in agricultural sciences from Western Illinois University and a juris doctorate, cum laude, from Washburn University School of Law. Wilson formerly served as assistant to the director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture and assistant to the secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture.

At USDA, Wilson was director of the Office of Public Liaison. She owns an association management firm, managing state associations and working with the Kansas legislature on agriculture and property laws for over 25 years. Her company also produced agricultural educational materials for agriscience classrooms.

Wilson previously served as deputy secretary and general counsel of the Kansas Department of Agriculture and was the American Agri-Women national president from 2009-2011. In 2016, she received the Illinois Agri-Women Hall of Fame Award at the Illinois State Fair. Wilson and her husband, Ron, and their four children operate the family farm and ranch near Manhattan, KS. Their operation includes a commercial cow calf herd, continuing the herd her father and grandfather started in 1944. They also raise dairy goats, horses and llamas. 

The Wilson's Lazy T Ranch is a national historic register site, and they regularly welcome visitors. They also produce grain, vegetable and specialty crops and have hosted an annual fall festival for the past decade, as well as weddings and other agritourism events.

"The WIU School of Agriculture provided me with a great education and experiences that have helped shape my career," said Wilson. "The faculty was outstanding in working with students and being open to helping students in the classroom and beyond. They helped me choose career directions and also continued to mentor us after we graduated - even today. It was wonderful to see so many faculty return for this event. Their commitment to WIU, their students and agriculture has continued even in retirement. Also, they weren't 'ivory tower' professors. They've had real life experiences in agriculture throughout their lives, which made the teaching so much more interesting and valuable as a student. The faculty encouraged us and gave us opportunities to participate in student organizations, which gave us great experiences in leadership development as well. Those opportunities were a part of cementing relationships with other students that were strong enough to continue well beyond our college years. WIU provided me with wonderful friendships for life, other students who have been friends and supporters in our careers and lives through school and all the years since. It's part of the culture of WIU that you don't find at every university."

• Martin (Marty) E. O'Connor is a 1978 graduate with a degree in agriculture science: O'Connor grew up on a farm near Galesburg, IL. He is currently president of O'Connor Consulting and Management, LLC. His company offers assistance in meat marketing initiatives to help in distinguishing products in the global marketplace and compliance with regulatory requirements.  

Prior to establishing his own company, O'Connor was employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for 34 years, with an emphasis on meat quality. He was responsible for the development and management of livestock and meat grade standards (including instrument grading technology), voluntary marketing claims (e.g., branded beef, verified tender, grass fed and source verification), meat purchase specifications for the Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs and the Country of Origin Labeling program.

O'Connor was the first WIU School of Agriculture alumni to be recognized with the WIU College of Business and Technology Distinguished Service Award. He also received the WIU Alumni Achievement Award and currently serves on the Alumni Council.

He has been married to Melissa since 1989, and lives in Round Hill, VA. They have one daughter, McKenzie, who will be married this spring.

"I was very honored and humbled to be recognized with this award, especially, knowing the magnitude of achievement of so many other School of Agriculture alumni," said O'Connor. "I was extremely grateful for the educational aspect of my animal science degree from WIU as it lead me into a directly related field of meat science, where I fully enjoyed my career."

• Philip E. Bradshaw, a 1961 graduate with a degree in agriculture: Bradshaw has been a farmer for more than 55 years and has experienced numerous agricultural changes, from farming with horses to using machinery with satellite guidance systems. He has served as president of three major state and three national agricultural organizations and has been part of advisory committees and boards for six U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture.

Bradshaw and his wife, Linda (a 1997 graduate with a degree in education), have three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  

He served on the WIU President's Advisory Board for President Knoblauch and President Malpass. He served the School of Agriculture as an Advisory Board Member from 2010-2017. Philip has authored the book, "Your Food – My Adventure," which are his memoirs."

"It is a very much appreciated honor to be selected as one of the honored alumni from the School of Agriculture, especially when you see how successful the Western agriculture graduates have been over the years," said Bradshaw.

For more information about the WIU School of Agriculture, visit wiu.edu/ag.





Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (JK-Pospeschil@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations