Retired Extension specialist honored at Block & Bridle Club

Dr. Ben Bartlett was honored at the Michigan State University Block and Bridle Club Annual Recognition Banquet on Saturday, April 9. For over 30 years, Ben has helped better the lives of Michigan and U.S. livestock producers through his forward thinking, outstanding teaching abilities, and practical and usable newsletters, articles and bulletins.

In 1977, Ben, his wife, Denise, and three children moved to the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) when he took the position of manager at the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center. In 1983, he became the dairy and livestock Extension specialist for the U. P. He focused on helping producers improve their production and profitability. He provided Extension programs centering on pre-sale vaccination, synchronized breeding research and low stress cattle handling. He also served by helping to coordinate the Michigan and multi-state grazing conferences over 10 years. He was also involved in the Bovine Virus Diarrhea (BVD) eradication trial, part of a three-year study to rid the U.P. of the disease. Ben was known for providing the information that farmers needed, when they needed it, in a way that they could connect to. He also sent a monthly newsletter to over 1,000 people for 13 years.

Ben was active outside of MSU Extension, serving as chair of the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Committee and the nonprofit Holistic Management International. His other international work included organizing producer education tours to Scotland, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia. He also co-authored “Water Systems for Grazing” that sold over 10,000 copies, as well as a chapter for a Natural Resource, Agriculture and Engineering Service grazing workbook.

Ben has received many awards for his outstanding lifetime of service including the MSU Distinguished Academic Staff award, the American Sheep Industry Flock Guardian, Outstanding Extension Educator, the Epsilon Sigma Phi Visionary Leadership award, the Eisenhower Agriculture Fellowship and the Growing UP Distinguished Service to Agriculture awards.

In 2011, Ben retired from MSU, but he and Denise work full time on their sheep, cattle and grass operation. They provide grazing and soil health trials with a SARE Farmer and Rancher grant and have shared their findings at meetings in Michigan, Wisconsin, South Africa, Kenya and Kyrgyzstan.

Congratulations, Ben, on your recognition and for the effect you’ve had on our organization, our state, our country and our world.

Juan Marinez and Ben Bartlett teach cattle handling techniques.

Retired MSUE dairy educator Ben Bartlett (right) provides the expertise while MSUE specialist Juan Marinez (left) provides the translation during a workshop on low stress cattle handling techniques for 22 Spanish-speaking employees of Green Meadows Farms in Ovid. Photo by Steve Evans, ANR Communications.

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