WCMA Supports Future Dairy Processing Leaders with $19,000 in Scholarships

Posted By: Grace Atherton WCMA News ,

Seven current and future dairy industry professionals have been selected to receive a total of $19,000 in scholarship funds in 2022, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) announced today. Each year, WCMA supports the dairy industry’s next generation through these scholarship awards.

“Building a strong future for the dairy processing industry requires fresh, energetic, diverse perspectives. Thanks to the generosity of our members, WCMA is thrilled to once again offer these awards to a group of highly deserving emerging leaders,” said WCMA Executive Director John Umhoefer.

Dairy processors and their family members are eligible for the WCMA Myron P. “Mike” Dean Cheese Industry Student Scholarship. Over 25 years, WCMA has awarded these $3,000 scholarships to 44 students. Winners of the 2022 Mike Dean Cheese Industry Student Scholarships are Bailee Aisenbrey and Jamie Feldmann.

Bailee Aisenbrey currently works in the production plant at Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery. Set to begin a quality assurance internship this summer, she is also completing her undergraduate degree in Food Science and Technology at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. Upon graduation in May 2023, Bailee plans to continue pursuing a quality assurance career in the dairy processing industry.

Jamie Feldmann, Manager of Supplier Quality at Sartori Company, is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) focused on project management from Lakeland University. After obtaining his graduate degree, Jamie aims to move into a project management role within the company to continue developing supply chain continuity.

Since 1999, suppliers to the dairy industry and their family members have earned the WCMA Supplier Student Scholarship. In total, 57 of these scholarships have been awarded over 22 years. The 58th, 59th, and 60th recipients of the WCMA Cheese Industry Supplier Student Scholarship, receiving $3,000 each, are Jenna Jakel, Stephanie Kraemer, and Jack Pluta.

Jenna Jakel has served for 11 years as the Office Manager at Loos Machine & Automation. She plans to graduate from Upper Iowa University in December 2023 with an MBA with an accounting focus. After graduation, Jenna aims to continue her career with Loos as the company’s Controller/Office Manager.

Stephanie Kraemer currently works as a Quality & Food Safety Specialist for IFF (Danisco) in Madison, Wisconsin. She is pursuing an MBA at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, with goals of becoming a Marketing or Brand Manager upon graduating in May 2023.

Jack Pluta is a Processing Engineering intern at Excel Engineering, continuing a family tradition shared with his father, Senior Project Manager John Pluta. After graduating in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University, Jack plans to continue his dairy industry career as a Process Engineer in Excel’s Food Process Group.

Since 2021, WCMA has also selected two students to receive the Brian Eggebrecht Student Scholarship supporting skilled trades in the dairy industry, worth $2,000 each. This award, named in honor of Championship Cheese Contest Chairman and generous donor Brian Eggebrecht, is open to students attending any technical school in Wisconsin, or high school students registered to attend a Wisconsin technical school. The winners of the 2022 Brian Eggebrecht Student Scholarship are Bryce Gustafson and Xiapor Lor.

Bryce Gustafson is employed as an Internal Raw Materials Grading Coordinator at Masters Gallery Foods. He is currently pursuing a degree in Manufacturing Management at Lakeshore Technical College. In the future, Bryce aims to continue his career in Masters Gallery’s Grading Department and become a licensed cheesemaker.

Xiapor Lor currently holds a Utility position at Masters Gallery Foods’ Oostburg, Wisconsin location. Upon graduating with an Associate’s degree in Electromechanical Maintenance from Lakeshore Technical College, Xiapor plans to pursue a maintenance career with Masters Gallery.

Funds for WCMA’s scholarship program come from the annual Championship Cheese Auction, where gold medal cheeses from WCMA’s Championship Cheese Contests are sold to the highest bidders. The next auction will be held during CheeseExpo, scheduled for April 12-14, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. More information and registration details are available at CheeseExpo.org.