The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) will honor John Vrieze and Jim Lewis for their work and support of the dairy industry with Dairy Appreciation Awards in May. Vrieze and Lewis will be recognized for their outstanding contributions to the dairy industry and for supporting the CVM’s education and research missions.  

Created by the College’s dairy production medicine Group in 2011, the Dairy Appreciation Award is presented at the Minnesota Dairy Health Conference. Individuals are nominated for the award by members of the dairy production medicine group, and selected by vote. The Minnesota Dairy Health Conference is an annual event to keep dairy veterinarians, dairy industry professionals, and dairy producers up-to-date on advancements in the dairy field. During the three-day event, nationally renowned speakers give presentations on the latest developments in dairy production science, health management, and food quality.

Vrieze has been involved with dairy farming for over 35 years. He helped create an education and advocacy group, the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (, which has helped shape the Wisconsin dairy industry. In 2001 he entered into an agreement with the CVM to build a 425-cow Transition Management Facility (TMF). For eight years, the TMF served as the CVM’s location for clinical training in dairy health management for senior veterinary students, and hosted a variety of applied research projects and continuing education programs. In addition to Vrieze’s support of the College’s teaching, research, and extension activities, he has been a spokesperson for the dairy industry across the Midwest.

While attending the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Lewis was involved in a “march for milk” throughout the Midwest, promoting dairy farmers’ contribution to America’s food supply in every state from Minnesota to the Mexican border. In 2001, he became manager of the TMF, where he was instrumental in the success of the College’s clinical teaching, research, and continuing education programs for 10 years. When the CVM’s clinical teaching rotation was moved to New Sweden Dairy in St. Peter, Minn., in 2009, Lewis continued to support ongoing applied research and continuing education at the TMF. He also works with progressive dairy professionals throughout the upper Midwest, assisting them with management systems designed to increase profitability.

For more information about the Minnesota Dairy Health Conference, visit