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Bruce Cottington Award
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Bruce Cottington Award

In 2006, Minnesota Milk awarded the first ever "Friend of Dairy" award to Bruce Cottington.  Since then, the name of the award has been changed to the "Bruce Cottington Award" in honor of Bruce Cottington's name and legacy.


This award is given out on select years to inviduals that have gone above and beyond the call of duty fostering the goals and ideals of Minnesota Milk through their own personal efforts.  Additional criteria for the award also includes their involvement in Minnesota's dairy industry, display of leadership, and community involvement.


2017 Bruce Cottington Award

David Kjome

Welch, Minn. – The Minnesota Milk board of directors chose David Kjome, Rochester, Minn., as the 2017 Bruce Cottington Friend of Dairy Award winner.

Kjome has been to Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand judging dairy cattle, and judged World Dairy Expo three times. His ability to educate and inspire dairy youth and their parents brought him from 4-H agent, American Guernsey Association fieldman, and sire analyst for Tri-State Breeders in Iowa to Minnesota. He came to Minnesota as an agricultural loan officer with First Northwestern Bank of Winona. In 1970, he started helping dairyman through University of Minnesota Extension in Olmsted county for 30 years. Congressman Gil Gutnecht also relied on Kjome for dairy insight. 

His first recognition was when he joined the Iowa State University Judging team and word got around that he “was a good talker.”

In 1981, he worked with University of Minnesota faculty to execute a demonstration project with 21 farms known as the Olmsted County Mastitis Demonstration project, which became a model for other counties to follow. 

Kjome’s other awards also include high individual in the Jersey breed at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest, Rochester’s Chamber of Commerce AgriPerson of the Year in 1983, and induction into the Minnesota Livestock Hall of Fame in 1994. He was named a National Dairy Shrine Pioneer in 2016.

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2015 Bruce Cottington Award

Ed Frederick

Ed Frederick has provided a lifetime of leadership and service to his local community along with numerous state and national organizations. He is respected for his passion and outstanding contributions to dairy, agriculture, and natural resources.


Ed grew up on a livestock and dairy farm in Madison Lake, and has been one of the state’s greatest champions of agricultural education. He received three degrees from the University of Minnesota – a bachelor’s in agricultural education, and a master’s and Ph.D. in dairy husbandry. His first position was at the Northwest School and Experiment Station, Crookston, where he taught and was the head of the dairy and livestock department. In 1964, he became superintendent of the Southern School of Agriculture and Southern Experiment Station in Waseca.


In 1969 he was chosen as Chancellor to lead a new two-year agriculture college, the University of Minnesota-Waseca campus. In 1990 he became a senior fellow at the University. As a senior fellow, he led a study on the university’s role in rural development, worked on several community rural development projects, and advised the university on its ag programs.


Ed was one of the founding members of the Minnesota Dairy Leaders Roundtable in 1992. He continued to provide his leadership and facilitated the organization through retirement in June 2013.

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2014 Bruce Cottington Award

Jeff Reneau

Jeff Reneau has been humbly serving Minnesota dairy producers for over 35 years. After graduating from University of Minnesota Veterinarian School, he was a practicing veterinarian in Parkers Prairie and Buffalo, Minnesota. He then started working at the University of Minnesota Animal Science Department with an Extension Appointment in 1979.


Dr. Reneau has developed two practices that producers, world-wide, use almost every day. First, with the help of Ralph Farnsworth, is the “Minnesota One-Step” method of cow preparation using dip - strip- wipe – and apply to prep cows. The other is bulk tank culturing. With colleagues, Dr. Reneau developed a rapid, inexpensive way to troubleshoot a herd’s milk quality problem and monitor exposure to environmental bacteria.


He has been working over the past several years with Mark Kinseil to develop the use of statistical process control and automated web-based milk monitoring to monitor milk quality and components on farms. This has developed into a system where data can be collected on smart phones and hand-held computers and is transmitted to an internet server tor real time analysis and report generation.


Dr. Reneau started the senior capstone dairy production systems class for dairy students at the University of Minnesota. In this class students visit and evaluate farms, developing and making recommendations to the farmer. This is a favorite for students and the participating farms also enjoy the input.


In his Extension role, Dr. Reneau taught many milking schools over the years and led the united dairy industry effort "Quality Counts" program that has dramatically improved the milk quality in Minnesota. He helped develop materials for Dairy Initiatives and the Dairy Diagnostic programs. With students, professionals and producers, our recipient has always emphasized that it’s important to take a whole systems approach to improving farm management.

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2013 Bruce Cottington Award

Bob LeCocq

Minnesota Milk Producers Association recognized Bob LeCocq as the 2013 recipient of the Bruce Cottington Friend of Dairy Award. The presentation took place during the Midwest Dairy Expo on December 3 in St. Cloud, Minn.


Bob LeCocq was raised on a 40-cow dairy in east-central Minnesota and is a true friend to Minnesota dairy producers. This has been shown through his passion of helping dairy families be profitable through the use of sound strategic plans and executing on them with their team. Many in southeastern Minnesota have experienced this first-hand through his 33 plus years of service to AgStar Financial Services.


Aside from his position as financial services executive - dairy specialist, at AgStar, he spends numerous hours volunteering his expertise to others. Bob has served three years as a member and co-chair to the Minnesota department of Agriculture dairy profitability team working with several industry people to improve dairies profits & sustainability. He was a finance committee member for the Professional Dairy Calf and Heifer Association for three years. He is also a founding committee member of the Southeast Minnesota Ag-Alliance, an Ag-friendly organization.


“The analytical thought and expertise Bob brings to Minnesota Milk’s Membership Committee is a true asset to Minnesota dairy farmers,” stated Bob Lefebvre, Executive Director with Minnesota Milk. “His commitment toward building a stronger future for Minnesota dairy farmers is just one of the many reasons why he deserves this award.”

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2012 Bruce Cottington Award

Sherry Newell

The 2012 Bruce Cottington Award recipient is known to probably every dairy farmer in Minnesota. When you think of passionate dairy producer advocates, Sherry Newell quickly rises to the top of the list. In her 33 year career in Minnesota agriculture, she has provided strong support for agriculture in general, for dairy producers and for Minnesota Milk.


As a farm broadcaster at WJON/WWJO in St. Cloud in the 80’s, Sherry covered Minnesota Milk conventions and policy actions and she served as both a speaker and an emcee on several occasions. In 1992 she began a new role as Minnesota Industry Relations Manager for Midwest Dairy. She spearheaded Midwest Dairy’s relationship with Minnesota Milk through their involvement in our annual meeting and convention. Over the years, she also facilitated joint efforts and communication between the two organizations including a Milk Stand project at the State Fair where dairy producers and industry supporters were recruited as volunteer servers.


When Minnesota Milk created its committee structure in 2002, Sherry was one of the original participants of our Membership committee. She helped organize the first three years of the Leadership Development activities which included a joint launch of Midwest Dairy’s SpeakOut! program. She was also an integral part in establishing Minnesota Milk’s Scholarship program and our Dairy Connections program.


In her current role as Director of Communications, Sherry is responsible for producer and agriculture media outreach across 10 states and conducts numerous workshops for dairy youth and farmers to help them become dairy advocates. And she still remains co-manager for Midwest Dairy’s Minnesota State Fair operations.


To any person, you would think this is plenty to do for the dairy industry and for agriculture. But, true to her nature, this is only a fraction of her dedication. Throughout the years, her volunteer activity has included serving as a 4-H key leader, coaching 4-H and FFA dairy judging teams and public speaking contestants, serving as a Dairy Knowledge Bowl assistant and an FFA Career Development Event judge. She is also a Mentor for the University of Minnesota’s College of Food and Natural Sciences.


Sherry is a person that truly represents the spirit and passion of the Bruce Cottington Award for Friend of Minnesota Dairy Producers.

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2011 Bruce Cottington Award

Dr. Jim Linn

Minnesota Milk Producers Association recognized Dr. Jim Linn as the 2011 recipient of the Bruce Cottington Friend of Dairy Award during the Midwest Dairy Expo on November 29 in St. Cloud, Minn.


Dr. James Linn is a nationally known dairy expert who served as the Head of the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota from June 2007 until his retirement in September 2011. He earned his Ph.D. in dairy cattle nutrition from the University of Minnesota in 1978, and was on the faculty at Iowa State University as Extension Dairy Specialist from 1978 to 1979 before returning to Minnesota as an Extension Dairy Nutritionist with research, teaching and extension responsibilities.


He specialized in dairy cattle nutrition and focused his research on forage quality, calf nutrition, direct fed microbials, feed intake and feed efficiency. He served as faculty supervisor for the animal facilities on the St. Paul Campus, which includes a dairy herd of 140 Holstein cows.


Dr. Linn has been active in the American Dairy Science Association, having served on the Board of Directors as well as President, and he chaired the Production Division Council. He also served as Overall Program Chair for the 2002 joint meeting of American Dairy Science Association, American Society of Animal Science, and the Canadian Society of Animal Science.


Dr. Linn was a member of the 2001 National Research Council (NRC) committee for dairy nutrition that authored the "NRC Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle" and served on the NRC committee that reviewed “Minerals and Toxic Substances in Diets and Water for Animals.” He was named Outstanding Graduate Faculty Member of the Department of Animal Science, and he advised 10 MS and 5 PhD students during his tenure at the U of M.


Dr. Linn has authored and co-authored over 600 publications and popular press articles covering numerous calf, heifer and cow nutrition topics. He has given over 500 talks on dairy nutrition in Minnesota alone and has been invited to speak at numerous national and international seminars and meetings.


“But, as you all know,” said Pat Lunemann, President of Minnesota Milk Producers Association, “Jim is not a person of accolades and accomplishments. He is all about the people he served – dairy farmers. His true dedication of service to Minnesota dairy farmers is without reproach.”

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2010 Bruce Cottington Award

Commissioner Gene Hugoson

Minnesota Milk Producers Association awarded Commissioner Gene Hugoson as the first recipient of the Bruce Cottington Friend of Dairy Award during the Midwest Dairy Expo on November 30 in St. Cloud, Minn. 


Commissioner Hugoson has spent his entire life in farming. He grew up on the Hugoson family farm where he and his wife Patricia continue to operate a corn and soybean farm in Martin County. By remaining active in agriculture, Commissioner Hugoson has been able to maintain a producer’s perspective on agriculture policy.


Commissioner Hugoson served five terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives – first elected in 1986. He was appointed by Governor Arnie Carlson to the position of Agriculture Commissioner in 1995. He was reappointed by Governor Jesse Ventura in 1999 and reappointed again by Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2003.


Commissioner Hugoson has been instrumental in every significant state agriculture policy or finance matter that has been addressed for the past quarter century. He pushed for reform of the nation’s antiquated milk marketing system and fought to eliminate needless red tape and delays from agricultural regulations. We are particularly grateful for the strong support we have received from Gene and his Department as we worked to have the Livestock Investment Grant Program formally enacted. We are looking forward to a healthier economic time for the state so that the Livestock Investment Grant Program can be fully capitalized and become the tool we all envision it will be to help producers get started or expand their dairy operations.


As a highly visible spokesman for Minnesota agriculture, his ability to educate and reassure the state’s non-farm residents helped keep the livestock sector on course despite a series of animal health challenges, including the 2005 outbreak of bovine tuberculosis in northwestern Minnesota.


“Gene has been a good partner for us on our Minnesota Milk initiatives and we are very grateful for his service to the State of Minnesota, to the agricultural community, in general, and to the Milk Producers in particular,” stated Pat Lunemann during the award presentation that evening.

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2006 Friend of Dairy Award

Bruce Cottington

Bruce Cottington was the first recipient of the “First Annual Friend of MMPA Award” at the Midwest Dairy Expo on December 5 in St. Cloud, MN.


A true Dairy Enthusiast, Bruce has spent countless hours promoting agriculture, FFA, 4-H, and of course, Minnesota’s Dairy Industry.  Born and raised on a dairy farm, Bruce understands our industry including the marketing and promotion of our wholesome and nutritious products to consumers. As a father of 3, he has taught his children that hardwork and dedication will take you far in life, just as they have for him.


Bruce spent 25 years in the grocery business as a field man and a store owner promoting the dairy case and agriculture.  From his store, he would do daily radio broadcasts on KLFD Radio in Litchfield highlighting sale prices, community events plus light commentary to make the broadcasts more inviting and interesting to the listeners, all while promoting the value of dairy products.


To eliminate the winter blues in February, he started the Peanut Butter and Milk Festival in 1972.  The festival helped to promote milk and peanut butter sandwiches since they went so well together, besides highlighting food production, agriculture youth, and rural America.  Today, the festival continues with an exchange program twice a year between Litchfield, Minnesota and Hartford, Alabama – a sister city in the program.


In 1979, he sold his grocery store and went to work for the American Dairy Association of Minnesota, now the Midwest Dairy Association, as a field man promoting the Real Seal and working with the Check-Off program sponsored by Minnesota Dairy Farmers. Upon his retirement from the Dairy Association, he continued to work with and manage the State Fair malt stand located in the Empire Commons Building resulting in almost 20 years of service.


After his retirement from the Dairy Association, he decided to un-retire and continue to do what he does best – promote Minnesota’s Dairy Industry.  He began working for Minnesota Milk as the Membership Coordinator allowing him to travel around the state and share with dairy producers the ideals and beliefs of Minnesota Milk while promoting and strengthening the industry that he truly loves.  He has since retired from Minnesota Milk, but finds time in his busy schedule to support the activities of the organization such as the Dairy Day at the Capitol.


Believing that his local creamery is a true asset the community and the future of the dairy industry, often times you will find him buzzing through the First District Outlet Store checking on things, or handing out small gift certificates for 1 pound blocks of butter or cheese encouraging people to patronize the outlet store and the local dairy farmers.   Taking it one step further, he does a twice weekly radio show on KLFD Radio called “Cheese Ball Corners” promoting items at the local outlet store, enlightening listeners with corny trivia and humor, discussing community events and highlighting agriculture in Meeker County besides interviewing the local dairy princesses.


As an active volunteer and leader in his community, he supports the Meeker County Dairy Association assisting with the malt stand at the county fair, encouraging and promoting the events of the organization, and serves as a dairy princess judge.  It is easy to say where 2 or more are gathered in the name of dairy - Bruce is there!


At the age of 15, he enlisted in the Navy during World War 2 and also did a tour of duty in Korea.  He served 8 years and earned 8 Battle Ribbons in the service of our country. On Memorial Day in 2004, he represented the Minnesota American Legion at the dedication the World War 2 Memorial in Washington D.C.


In 2005, Bruce was inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame.  He has received the WCCO Radio Good Neighbor Award. And, he was also honored as a Hometown Hero by the Hutchinson radio station for his dedication to the community as a member of the Kiwanis, Shrine Club, and VFW.


And finally, in 2002, the Senate of the State of Minnesota thanked him for his lifelong service to his community, state, and country by a formal resolution on the floor of the Senate in his honor.


Even though he is retired, he continues to serve as the President of Cottington Foods, a private consulting firm for dairy promotion and public relations – “promoting dairy for 100 years” as he would say!  It is easy to spot Bruce in a crowd at any dairy event sporting his Navy Blue FFA suspenders – again, a sign of his dedication to the promotion of agriculture and the dairy industry.

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