CAFES Interim Dean Olson, UWRF Chancellor Maria Gallo and David Lenzmeier, 2023 Distinguished Agriculturalist, pose for a photoL-R: Dean Olson, CAFES Interim Dean; UWRF Chancellor Maria Gallo; and David Lenzmeier, 2023 Distinguished Agriculturalist

Lenzmeier named 2023 Wisconsin Distinguished Agriculturalist at UW-River Falls


May 1, 2023 -- David Lenzmeier has been named the 2023 Wisconsin Distinguished Agriculturalist by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Lenzmeier is CEO of Milk Specialties Global and an alumnus of UWRF. Dean Olson, CAFES interim dean, presented Lenzmeier with the award at the college’s Annual Scholarship and Awards Program in front of an audience of nearly 200 students, donors, faculty and staff on April 20.

Olson shared highlights of Lenzmeier’s successful career noting how he went from being a student worker in the UWRF dairy plant to CEO, a CEO who makes the time to meet with UWRF students touring Milk Specialties Global facilities, calling it ‘awesome’ that he was willing to do that.

In his remarks, Lenzmeier left three take-aways for the students in the audience. First, he encouraged them to take responsibility because leadership and leaders are needed. Second, he said they should be determined, adding each of them has more in you than you know. And finally, don’t hold back on believing how far you can go. He wrapped up his remarks with, “You are the future, you will be leading organizations and you will be standing at a podium like this one day.”

Lenzmeier grew up on a dairy farm in Kimball, Minn., beginning his career in quality/operations/business development for First District Association in Litchfield, one of the first North American producers of whey protein. In 1999, he co-founded Protient, a manufacturer of specialty whey protein for use in baby formula, processed foods and dietary supplements. He sold the company and joined Milk Specialties Global in 2008 as president of their newly formed food division. In 2011, he became CEO of the entire company. The division he started became the biggest part of Milk Specialties’ business helping the company grow from four locations in the Midwest to over 1,000 employees at 12 locations across the nation. 

In 2013, Lenzmeier was named one of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurs of the Year for the Upper Midwest. He and his wife own Stickney Hill Dairy and devote time to the Hendrickson Foundation, helping to make hockey accessible to anyone who wants to play the game. 

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. Lenzmeier was presented with a framed copy of the charcoal sketch of his portrait that hangs in the Agriculture Hall of Fame in the Agricultural Science building on campus. Visit to see previous honorees.

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