2020 Young Cooperators Leadership & Development Program

October 29 - 30, 2020
Zoom Webinar

Established in 1950, the National Young Cooperators (YC) Program provides up-and-coming leaders in the dairy industry with a better understanding of issues facing farmers and milk marketing cooperatives. The program, managed by the National Milk Producers Federation, provides year-round educational opportunities to inform and build leadership abilities in the next generation of dairy farmers.

The 2020 YC Leadership & Development Program will be a virtual one, as is the case with so many other events this year. But the good news is that our top-notch programming remains the same. Offerings this year include a panel of industry leaders discussing the value of cooperative membership, challenges co-ops face, and how they’re innovating to meet member and marketplace needs. Other highlights include a farmer panel, and a conversation about managing financial risk. The full agenda is listed below.

This year’s program will be held Oct. 29 and Oct. 30 and programming will begin at 1:00 PM Eastern/10:00 AM Pacific both days. Participation is free of charge for registrants, thanks to the generous support of Farm Credit. To be eligible for participation, registrants must be under the age of 45 and an employee or owner of a dairy farm that is a member of a National Milk Producers Federation member cooperative. Member cooperative staff are also invited to participate.

The YC Leadership & Development Program is preceded by the two-day joint annual meeting organized by the National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Management Inc. YCs and cooperative staff are encouraged to participate in those online sessions as well. To learn more about it, click here.


Schedule of Events

Thursday, October 29

1:00 – 1:15 PM – Welcome // Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation and James Weber, Weber Family Dairy (Michigan Milk Producers Association Member)

1:15 – 1:45 PM – Factors Influencing Resilient Dairy Farms // Amber Roberts, University of Minnesota

1:45 – 2:30 PM – Managing Dairy Farms for Success: Farmer Panel // Moderated by Joanna Shipp, Mowmont Dairy Farm (Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Association Member)

  • Steve Maddox, Ruann and Maddox Dairy (California Dairies Inc. Member)
  • Alise Sjostrom, Jer-Lindy Farms & Redhead Creamery (Bongards’ Creameries Member)
  • Bob DiCarlo, Fa-Ba Farm (Upstate Niagara Cooperative Member)

2:30 – 3:00 PM – Break

3:00 – 3:30 PM – Mending the Stress Fence- Tools and Resources for Farmers Experiencing Stress // Eric Karbowski, Michigan State University

3:30 – 4:00 PM – Managing Financial Risk // John Lehr, Farm Credit East

4:00 – 4:30 PM – Five Habits of Highly Effective Dairy Farmers // Dr. Lisa McCrea, AgWest Veterinary Group

Friday, October 30

1:00 – 2:00 PM – Dairy Co-ops and the Future: Adapting in a Changing World // Moderated by Alan Bjerga, National Milk Producers Federation

  • Sheryl Meshke, Associated Milk Producers Inc.
  • Dennis Rodenbaugh, Dairy Farmers of America
  • James “Cricket” Jacquier, LaurelBrook Farm (Agri-Mark Member)
  • Dr. Ken Bailey, Darigold

2:00 – 2:45 PM – Keys to Leading a Great Workforce // Richard Stup, Cornell University

2:45 – 3:30 PM – Pub Trivia

3:30 – 4:15 PM – A Conversation on Cultivating Leadership // Pete Kappelman, Land O’Lakes Inc.

4:15 – 4:30 PM – Closing Remarks // James Weber, Weber Family Dairy (Michigan Milk Producers Association Member)


Jim Mulhern – President and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation

Jim Mulhern is a veteran agriculture and food policy strategist with over 35 years of experience working with Washington, DC policymakers and the media. He was named President and Chief Executive Officer of NMPF in January 2014. Since taking over leadership of NMPF, Jim has directed the dairy organization’s work on a wide range of important issues including trade policy, immigration reform, the farm bill, environmental policy, animal care, food labeling and standards of identity, and much more.

James Weber – National YC Chairman and Owner, Weber Family Dairy

James Weber of Weber Family Dairy milks 130 Jersey cows and raises crops on his Frankenmuth farm.  A graduate of the MSU Ag Tech program and Cal Poly, he returned to Michigan in 2015 to reopen his parents’ farm.  He now works with his parents, Duane and Sandy.  He recently was named Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperator by the Michigan Milk Producers Association, and he was also elected Chair of the National Young Cooperators Program for 2020.  He enjoys playing sports, finding inside work during the winter, and laughing about travel experiences – good or bad.

Amber Roberts AgBusiness Management Regional Extension Educator, University of Minnesota

Amber Roberts is a recent graduate in Applied Economics through the University of Minnesota College of Food, Ag, and Natural Resources. Her research focused on analyzing how dairy farmer’s decisions at the cow level impacts the farm’s financial health. She was a 2019 NMPF scholarship winner.

Joanna Shipp Owner, Bowmont Dairy Farm and Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association Member

Joanna Bowman Shipp is a 7th generation farmer dairying at Bowmont Dairy Farm in Southwest Virginia. Her family has been farming the same land since 1839. Currently Joanna is in partnership with her father, Laird Bowman. Bowmont Dairy milks 200 mixed breed cows (mainly Holstein) and farms 600 acres. Joanna is currently in her first year of a 3 year National Dairy Board/DMI term. She has served on the ADA of Virginia since 2015.  She has served on her local DHIA board for the last several years.  She was the Outstanding Young Cooperator for Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association in 2014. Joanna is married to a wonderful middle school band director, Robb Shipp. She also has one daughter Jenna that is 10 years old. Bowmont Dairy Farm still houses 4 generations and Joanna feels blessed to be able to make her home so close to family and the land.

Eric Karbowski – Community Behavioral Health Extension Educator, Michigan State University

Eric Karbowski is a Community Behavioral Health Extension Educator focusing on Farm Stress programming with Michigan State University Extension. Prior to joining MSU Extension, Eric was the Executive Director for the Missaukee County Commission on Aging. Additionally, Eric was a consultant with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and supervised a program in the public mental health system for ten years. Eric also worked for Michigan Works! providing vocational rehabilitation, education and training services/supports to individuals. Eric has a strong connection to the agricultural industry and brings his experience to support farmers and agribusiness professionals in self-awareness of stress and promotes the health and well-being of farmers. Educationally, Eric earned his bachelor’s degree of science in education, master’s degree of arts in administration.

John Lehr Vice President and Farm Business Consultant, Farm Credit East

John Lehr is a 32 year ‘career’ Farm Credit employee who brings a strong financial background to his consulting position at Farm Credit East.  He currently works with over 55,000 cows and has worked with many dairy, equine, timber, equipment dealer and farm related businesses.   His experience includes expansion planning, budgeting, financial & production management, tax planning, entity selection, farm transfers and exit strategy planning.

Dr. Lisa McCreaVeterinarian, Agwest Veterinary Group

Lisa grew up in a small town in New Brunswick and developed a love for dairy cattle out of high school. After graduating from the Atlantic Veterinary College in 1998, Lisa spent the next 10 years practicing in large animal clinics in Orangeville and Navan, Ontario where she specialized in dairy herd health and reproduction. In 2004 Lisa graduated from the Dairy Health Management Certificate Program at OVC in Guelph. Then in 2007, Lisa and her husband Phil moved west to join the Agwest team and became a partner the following year. After completing the AABP Embryo Transfer Course in 2009, she has expanded Agwest to include a full Embryo Transfer Mobile Service.

Alan BjergaSenior Vice President of Communications, National Milk Producers Federation

Alan Bjerga joined NMPF in October 2018 as its new Senior Vice President of Communications. In this role, he will lead NMPF’s communications efforts, focusing on media relations, marketing and digital storytelling. He previously worked at Bloomberg News as its lead writer on national farm policy issues, covering topics including the Farm Bill, agricultural trade and rural economics. His book on global hunger and food security, “Endless Appetites,” was published in 2011. Bjerga is a past president of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., as well as the North American Agricultural Journalists.

Richard Stup, Ph.D. Agricultural Workforce Specialist, Cornell University

Richard Stup addresses challenges facing the agricultural industry through educational programs and applied research. He also provides leadership as a liaison between the agricultural industry and employment-focused regulatory authorities. His focus is on human resource management, enhancing employee engagement, regulatory compliance, and leadership development at the farm level. Prior to joining Cornell University, Dr. Stup founded Ag Workforce Development, a firm focused on improving individual and team performance through organization development and technology solutions. He also served agriculture in the Farm Credit system as a branch manager and senior leader, gaining extensive experience leading teams in sales, credit, accounting and records, business consulting, risk management, and crop insurance. Earlier in his career, Richard was an Extension specialist with Penn State University, where he led the Dairy Alliance team and developed award-winning educational programming in human resource management. He earned his doctorate from Penn State in the field of Workforce Education and Development, including innovative research into the effects of human resource management on farm employee organizational commitment.

Pete Kappelman – Senior Vice President of Member and Government Relations, Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Pete Kappelman brings a lifetime of experience to the role of Senior Vice President of Member and Government Relations, as a successful crop and dairy farmer along with his advocacy experience and board involvement with many agricultural organizations.  Mr. Kappelman has been a leader in working with legislators on important ag policy issues including the Farm Bill, trade and immigration. He also served as an Ag Policy Advisor to the Administration for the United States Department of Agriculture and the Office of the United States Trade Representative and was named Director of the Year in 2018 by the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. His board service included the National Milk Producers Federation, the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, and the UW Center for Dairy Profitability. Kappelman is a fourth-generation farmer, having led Meadow Brook Dairy Farms, LLC, with his wife Shellie and their three adult children — an operation consisting of 450 milking cows along with 1,100 acres of cropland. The Kappelmans were Wisconsin’s 1995 Dairy Farm Family of the Year and Kappelman was 2018 Dairyman of the Year. Kappelman received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, College of Agriculture.