Dr. Cherie Bayer, Columbus, Ohio, has been named recipient of the Award for Meritorious Service by the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) and National All-Jersey Inc. (NAJ).
This award is given annually to a living individual(s) who, in the joint opinion of the Boards of Directors of the national Jersey organizations, has made a notable contribution to the advancement of the Jersey breed and the livelihood of Jersey owners in the United States through research, education, development, marketing, or other significant activities of the allied dairy industry.
With unfettered determination, Cherie Lei Bayer spent the better part of her career working to put her beloved Jersey cow front and center of the dairy world. As a journalist, educator and marketer with the national Jersey organizations, Dr. Bayer went above and beyond her duties as a 32-year employee, crafting messages and campaigns that have greatly contributed to breed growth over the past two decades.
To the benefit of Jersey, Dr. Bayer strove for excellence in everything, never settling for second best. One could be sure every “I” was dotted and every “T” crossed before she signed off on a project, be it an article for Jersey Journal or a presentation for the executive secretary. She earned respect among her peers and Jersey enthusiasts the world over for her professional abilities and wealth of Jersey knowledge.
Cherie Lei Bayer grew up in Cheney, Kan., and earned her undergraduate degree in agriculture from Kansas State University. She began the first of two stints with the American Jersey Cattle Club (AJCC) in March 1978 as associate editor of Jersey Journal, bringing to the table a solid dairy background that included ownership of Jerseys, 4-H projects, collegiate judging and showing in the All American. Hired by then executive secretary and fellow K-State alumnus, the late James F. Cavanaugh, she was entrusted to cover shows, sales, meetings and other Jersey functions, serving under then editor, the late Maurice E. Core, and working from company headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.
She eventually purchased a residence near the office, on the same street as Cavanaugh and his family. The move nurtured a close, lifelong and impactful friendship with the industry leader and another Cavanaugh neighbor and Jersey employee, Paula England, a fellow recipient of the Award for Meritorious Service.
Bayer was named managing editor of Jersey Journal in January 1981 and promoted to editor in June 1981. She assumed additional responsibilities as Director of Communications in May 1988.
Among her early visions for the magazine was a concept now known as desktop publishing. In that era, the idea was a hard sell. After convincing those holding the purse strings of its time saving, cost reducing, quality control merits, she set in motion a six-year plan to transition to electronic publishing. By late 1988, the entire front end of Jersey Journal was produced in-house, with printing alone outsourced.
Bayer was at the helm of the Journal when Post Printing Company (the current publisher) printed its first issue in January 1989 and when the largest (tie) issue rolled off the press in June 1989, the 184-page edition featuring A-Nine Top Brass.
Dr. Bayer also developed the initial format for in-house production of sale catalogs for Jersey Marketing Service (JMS) in 1982 and the concept for the Jersey Directory, still in publication some 36 years later.
As an old-school journalist, one could be sure every piece Dr. Bayer composed was thoroughly researched and well-constructed. She also had an eye for capturing beautiful, well composed photos and videos, building an extensive library of gems that proved useful to the Jersey organizations over the years.
Bayer resigned as editor of Jersey Journal in July 1989 to study communication at The Ohio State University (OSU). Upon earning her Ph.D., she accepted a faculty position with Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.
Her nine-year hiatus from Jersey ended in 1998, in a phone conversation with Calvin Covington, then CEO of the national Jersey organizations. He mentioned the position for editor of the Journal was vacant and offered her the job. She accepted and began her second stint with the cattle club, now called the American Jersey Cattle Association and located in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
The name Cherie L. Bayer again topped the masthead of the magazine from July 1998 through September 2002, when a staff reorganization brought about other opportunities for her abilities to shine. Two years into his appointment as executive secretary, Neal Smith chose Dr. Bayer to head up the newly created Development Department.
With a goal to advance Jersey promotion and more effectively communicate breed efficiencies to commercial milk producers, Dr. Bayer took on marketing responsibilities for the AJCA, NAJ and JMS and renewal of the capital fundraising campaign for the AJCC Research Foundation. She continued to write articles for Jersey Journal, oversee production of the annual report and the Jersey Genetic Summary, manage organization websites and administer the youth program. As well, Dr. Bayer continued to pen the Journal editorial—a veritable Jersey history—until she retired on December 31, 2018.
Dr. Bayer was well suited for the new position, bent on conveying a message based on science and facts and armed with Jersey institutional knowledge that was now two decades deep. She understood the value of a profitable Jersey cow and the approach of marketing her to dairies as businesses.
Among her brainchild programs was the herd management series, Bottom Line. Hosted by large commercial Jersey dairies—many Holstein converts—and sponsored with allied industry, the sessions showed producers how to profit with Jerseys. Dr. Bayer was a guiding hand in development of the NAJ Value-Added 101 workshops to help producers establish on-farm processing. She played a key role in the success of the two all-donation National Heifer Sales in 2005 and 2011, which raised a combined $712,000-plus for Jersey youth programs and research.
Bayer was a steady hand for the Jersey breed as it adopted genomic evaluations and dealt with herd registration issues related to non-Jersey parentage. A wealth of information for fellow staff, a common phrase at the office was, “Go ask Cherie.”
Among those coworkers is Cari Wolfe, AJCA Director of Research and Genetic Program Development. “Cherie has a real sense of responsibility for what she communicates. She has an extraordinary ability to dig deep and become an expert at whatever she wants to communicate. When she was writing about genetic evaluations, she became an expert in genetic evaluations. When she wanted to know if there were opportunities for Jersey beef, she took courses at OSU. When she wanted to learn how to market Jersey milk for cheese, she took a cheesemaking class.”
“In this process, Cherie earned respect for the national Jersey organizations among industry experts and built a body of contacts she recruited for projects like the NAJ webinar series on Jersey nutrition and Jersey Youth Academy.”
Erick Metzger, NAJ General Manager, appreciated Dr. Bayer for her expertise in crafting messages that resonated with the target audience. In an early release of Productive Life evaluations, he recalls the Jersey advantage was expressed as 4.97 months. “Cherie had a notion to put it on a different scale—days versus months—to better speak to commercial dairy producers. The message ‘Jersey delivers 151 more days to make money’ had much bigger impact.’”
“When I initially started working for the Jersey organizations, Cherie’s attention to detail drove me crazy,” recalled Michael L. Brown, former NAJ General Manager and recipient of the Award for Meritorious Service, now director of the dairy supply chain for the Kroger Co. “But as I progressed through my career, I began to appreciate what she taught me. One needs to have facts to make sound decisions and do a good job, whether negotiating a price for butter, buying, selling, lobbying or writing articles for Jersey Journal.”
Cherie’s persistence can be appreciated when one realizes from where it stems—love of the Jersey cow. This dedication can be found in acts that merged work with personal life over and again, like the time she donated a heifer to Cow Pie Bingo, yet another Bayer idea. “I remember the day Cherie called and said she bought a heifer calf at the Ohio Spring Classic Sale and wondered if we would house her at Dutch Hollow Farm,” said Paul Chittenden, Schodack Landing, N.Y. “She had a goal of donating her heifer to Cow Pie Bingo in 2018. Out of tremendous respect for Cherie and a long running friendship with our family, we agreed and put her in our donor dam program to ensure a heifer was available.”
From a pair of daughters, Dr. Bayer donated Reflection-DH Dimension Tallis to the cause, raising $5,250 for Jersey Youth Academy, a program that arguably may be the crown jewel of Dr. Bayer’s professional career.
The concept for Youth Academy was approved by the AJCA board in 2008 and entrusted to Dr. Bayer for development. Pulling off this majestic idea required someone like Cherie Bayer, who called on industry contacts and put her heart and soul into making it happen for the first time in the summer of 2009.
The purpose—encourage young people to pursue careers in the Jersey industry—paid off in spades, with many giving accounts of opened eyes and altered career paths thanks to Youth Academy. Dr. Bayer’s well-conceived plan assures youth will continue to learn about Jerseys through this boot-camp program for years to come.
Among those who attended Youth Academy in 2017 was Katarina Emerich, Mooers, N.Y., a freshman at Purdue majoring in agribusiness. Encouraged by Cherie in every step of her youth experience, she summed, “I believe I have Dr. Bayer to thank for fueling my passion to explore everything the Jersey cow has to offer.”
Similar accounts can be given by countless others.
It would be amiss to not mention Dr. Bayer’s role as 15-year coordinator of The All American Jersey Show and Sale and U.S. Jersey liaison to world dairy activities. She was involved with the U.S. Livestock Genetics Export Inc. and Cochran Fellows and made industry presentations at meetings in Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, India and the Ukraine. She was North American vice president of the World Jersey Cattle Bureau and received the organization’s Certificate of Achievement in 2018.
“In my longtime involvement with Jersey, I can think of very few who can match Cherie’s dedication, passion and work ethic for the good of the Jersey cow and the people who own her” noted Chittenden. “She is a logical choice to receive the Award for Meritorious Service.”
Dr. Bayer will be honored with the award at an upcoming event due to cancellation of the Recognition Banquet held during the AJCA-NAJ Annual Meetings.
AJCA-NAJ Award for Meritorious Service Recipients
1999 Morris B. Ewing, Tucson, Ariz.*
2000 Allen D. Meyer, West Fargo, N.D.*
2001 Calvin Covington, Ocala, Fla.
2002 John Jeter, Hilmar, Calif.
2003 Charlene Nardone, Orient, Ohio*
2003 Merlin D. Woodruff, Urbana, Ohio*
2004 Michael L. Brown, Seattle, Wash.
2005 Rodger S. Hoyt, Delaware, Ohio*
2006 Dr. Clarence S. Olson, Madison, Wis.
2007 Dr. John C. Wilk, Raleigh, N.C.
2008 Henry H. Dowlen, Lewisburg, Tenn.
2009 Dr. Ronald E. Pearson, Blacksburg, Va.
2010 Dr. Joseph A. Lineweaver, Radford, Va.
2011 David Brandau, Wilton, Wis.
2011 David Parkinson, Sahuarita, Ariz.
2012 Dr. H. Duane Norman, Fulton, Md.
2012 Dr. Curtis P. Van Tassell, Beltsville, Md.
2013 Dr. Robert Cropp and Dr. Edward Jesse, Madison, Wis.
2014 Richard “Dick” Smith, Waunakee, Wis.
2015 Paula M. England, Columbus, Ohio
2016 Richard “Dick” Clauss, Hilmar, Calif.
2017 Dr. Kent A. Weigel, Madison, Wis.
2018 Dr. Ole M. Meland, Ocala, Fla.
2019 Ronald L. Horst, Ph.D., Ames, Iowa*
2020 Dr. Cherie Bayer, Columbus, Ohio