Janina Siemers, the 2019 World Dairy Expo Dairy Woman of the Year, is a woman in constant motion.
Janina has full-time responsibilities as business manager on her family’s 3,300-cow registered Holstein dairy farm near Newton, Wis. She is a wife and mother, and still finds time to coach the Manitowoc-Calumet County Junior Holstein Dairy Bowl Team.
The 48-year-old also lends her time and talents to several organizations. She is a member of the Howards Grove School Board and served on the fundraising and junior convention committees for the National Holstein Convention held in Wisconsin this summer.
Keeping all these balls in the air requires plenty of discipline and dedication, as well as organization. Janina works in the farm’s meticulously kept office. She takes care of all the accounting, financials, legal and IT work, and emergencies. She uses DairyComp 305; develops work protocols and standard operating procedures; does purchasing; and handles payroll, insurance, workers’ comp and all human resources management for the farm’s 50-plus employees. Since joining the farm in 1995, she has completed more than 30,000 Holstein registration forms.
Janina is quick to credit her husband, Dan, who is general manager; her brother-in-law Paul, who is operations manager; and everyone who works on the farm for her success.
“I am honored to be a part of Team Siemers and truly would not be able to do this alone,” she says. “My family and our team of employees deserve all the credit for the success of the farm.”
Janina grew up on an 850-cow dairy farm near Sacramento, Calif., and graduated from University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., with a bachelor’s degree in business management and organized behavior, and computer science.
In summer 1991, Janina met Dan when he interned at her parents’ dairy farm.
“We were having some calf issues that summer, and he helped me solve those issues,” Janina explains. “I thought anyone who is good with calves has a good heart.”
Dan returned to Wisconsin and graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in dairy science in December 1991. Janina graduated from college in May 1993.
“I worked a summer internship with the California Milk Advisory Board and then I went back to my parents’ farm,” she says. “This experience made me realize my true passion was working and being on the farm.”
In May 1995, Dan and Janina were married and she moved 2,200 miles to Newton. That summer, the Siemers family was in the midst of expanding their dairy. On Aug. 8, they moved their cows into a new milking parlor-freestall setup for 750 head. Janina was there from the beginning to help make it happen, help get the cows in and out of the parlor, and get the herd started on DairyComp 305.
In 1997, Siemers Holsteins hosted Wisconsin Farm Progress Days and welcomed 100,000 visitors to their farm.
Their current rolling herd average is 37,500 pounds of milk, 1,500 pounds of butterfat and 1,100 pounds of protein while maintaining a somatic cell count under 100,000. Their herd was recently recognized by Holstein International for having the most cows with more than 100,000 kilograms (221,000 pounds) of lifetime milk production than any herd in the world. The herd also has the highest rolling herd average for herds of its size. Every year, they put 50 bulls into AI studs.
In the past 24 years, the Siemers family has steadily expanded the number of cows they milk and the acres they farm. Today, they grow crops on almost 6,000 acres.
Dan and Janina have two sons. Jordan, 23, graduated from Cornell University and works as a sire analyst at Select Sires in Plain City, Ohio. Connor, 19, is a student at Lakeland University in Plymouth.
When they were growing up, Jordan and Connor were active in 4-H and Junior Holstein, like their cousins Lauren, Jake, Josh and Crystal. They showed cattle at the Manitowoc County Fair, District 10 Holstein Show, Wisconsin State Fair, Wisconsin Holstein Championship Show and World Dairy Expo.
They also all competed in Dairy Bowl and Dairy Jeopardy on teams coached by Janina. She has helped Manitowoc and Calumet counties develop a reputation as the team to beat. Over the years, they have won seven state 4-H Dairy Bowl titles and six state Junior Holstein Dairy Bowl titles. Even though her kids are grown now, Janina continues to coach.
“I continue to coach Dairy Bowl because I love seeing the kids’ faces light up when they get it,” she says. “I have been incredibly blessed over the years to have coached amazing kids!”
Janina was both surprised and honored to be selected as the 2019 World Dairy Expo Dairy Woman of the Year. She says when she accepts the award Oct. 2 at Expo, she will do so on behalf of all the people who have helped and influenced her in her life.
“This award simply can’t be just about me,” Janina says. “It’s so much larger than me. I really want to thank my family — especially Dan and Paul for believing in me and entrusting me with all that you do. My parents for instilling a strong work ethic and for challenging me to think outside the box. And without the amazing opportunity given by my in-laws, Wally and Marlene Siemers, believing in the next generation, none of this would be possible.”
Paul, Dan and Janina are the farm’s management team and are the fifth generation to farm on the family farm.
“We all hope we can give our kids the opportunity to farm someday,” Janina says.
Since 1973, when World Dairy Expo presented the first Dairy Woman of the Year Award, 16 of the recipients have been from the Dairy State. In addition to the 2019 recipient Janina Siemers, Wisconsin winners include:
- 2015 Rosie Geiger, Reedsville
- 2013 Karen S. Schauf, Barron
- 2010 Liz Doornick, Baldwin
- 2009 Daphne Holterman, Watertown
- 2008 Marion Barlass, Janesville
- 2007 Deb Reinhart, New Holstein
- 2004 Cris Peterson, Grantsburg
- 2003 Linda Hodorff, Eden
- 1991 Myrna Sue Jones, Marshall
- 1986 Virginia Boyke, Fond du Lac
- 1985 Doris Hetts, Fort Atkinson
- 1981 Audrey Sickinger, Cato
- 1980 Ann Randall, Balsam Lake
- 1978 Jocelyn Rhein, Brownsville
- 1975 Laura Beane, Fort Atkinson