August 3, 2017
The Kansas dairy industry lost a stalwart on Memorial Day weekend when longtime Hereford Association and Kansas Dairy Association leader Mike Bodenhausen was killed in a tragic accident on his family farm at Muscotah.
Bodenhausen, who was the Kansas Dairy Leader of the Year in 2014, spent his entire life in the dairy industry, from the time he received his degree in dairy science from Kansas State University in 1974.
He worked as a fieldman for the Holstein Association of America and then as a classifier from 1975 to 1981, served as a director for the Kansas Dairy Association and as executive director of the association from 2006 to 2014. He was past president of the Kansas Holstein Association in 1992-1993 and was working again as a classifier for the Holstein Association of America at the time of his death.
He was a community leader as well, serving as 2nd District Atchison County Commissioner from 2012-2015, a past president and member of the USD 377 School Board from 1987-1995. He was an active member of the Muscotah United Church where he had served as treasurer and as chairman of the board.
But it was perhaps his work with young people that is his greatest legacy.
“Mike worked with so many 4-H groups and FFA kids. He was always there and willing to help. He never worried about getting paid or getting credit; he just wanted to do what he could to help,” says Sedgwick County dairyman Bob Seiler, who worked with Bodenhausen on many occasions.
“Mike was always at the Junior show in Salina, helping with judging the shows and with teaching young people,” says Stephanie Eckroat, who took over as executive director of the Kansas Dairy Commission and the Kansas Dairy Association after Bodenhausen retired. “He loved working with the kids.”
Bodenhausen taught dairy judging at K-State in 2005 and took great pride in knowing that his portrait and bio would hang in the hallway of Call Hall, along with other Kansas Dairy Leader of the Year award winners.
At the time he accepted the award he said, “I remember walking that hallway, looking at those pictures and being filled with awe of people like Ivan Strickler [the 1974 Dairy Leader of the Year]. I hope that someday someone walking past my picture will stop and say, ‘He was someone who was helpful to me.’ That would be what I would call success.”
The Dairy Bar under the grandstand at the Kansas State Fair was one of Bodenhausen’s favorite places, and he was delighted with the work that was accomplished in 2016 to remodel the space. When the second phase of the remodeling is complete as the fair opens this year, a plaque in memory of Bodenhausen and his contributions to the industry will be on display.
Among the many 4-H and FFA kids and their parents who come to enjoy an ice cream cone, a root beer float or a package of Alma cheese curds, there will no doubt be many who will recognize that face and say, as Mike would have hoped, “He was someone who was helpful to me.”
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