2016 Ben Bartlett
Block & Bridle Honoree
Bartlett began his working career in 1972 managing the shipment of cattle to Japan and Korea for the International Division of Premier Corporation. He was responsible for the training of staff, the design of facilities, and on-site management. After two years, he decided to return to west-central Michigan and started his own cow calf operation and a large animal veterinary practice. In 1977, Dr. Bartlett, 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. Dr. Bartlett 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. Dr. Bartlett has served as chair of the North Central Sustainable Agriculture and Research Committee, chair of the Holistic Management International non-profit, authored “Water Systems for Grazing Livestock” that sold over 10,000 copies, and authored a chapter for a NRAES grazing workbook. He has organized producer education tours to Scotland, Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia. Dr. Bartlett has received the MSU Distinguished Academic Staff award, The American Sheep Industry Flock Guardian award, Outstanding Extension Educator, the ESP Visionary Leadership award, the Eisenhower Agriculture Fellowship, and the Growing UP Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award. In retirement, Dr. Bartlett and Denise raise sheep, cattle, and grass. They have participated in grazing and soil health studies within a SARE Farmer and Rancher grant program. They have shared their findings at meetings in Michigan, Wisconsin, South Africa, Kenya, and Kyrgyzstan.