Brenda Snow Honored with AJCA-NAJ Award for Meritorious Service - Cowsmo

Brenda Snow Honored with AJCA-NAJ Award for Meritorious Service

Brenda Snow, Brookfield, Vt., has been named winner of the Award for Meritorious Service presented by the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) and National All-Jersey Inc.

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.

Brenda Snow has spent the greater part of her career advancing the livelihoods of those who milk and breed Registered Jerseys. For more than three decades she was an area representative for the national Jersey organizations, with a territory encompassing nine different states in the Northeast over the years. She also walked the walk, managing a well-respected herd of Registered Jerseys with her husband, Wes, and son, Jarrett, at Sno-Krest Farm in Brookfield.

Her career spanned a period of tremendous growth for the Jersey breed. She played a pivotal role in helping Jersey Marketing Services (JMS) move production-bred Registered Jerseys out of the Northeast to new homes across the country. She helped build the large West Coast herds the breed knows today by putting together pot load after pot load of Jerseys to fill these new facilities and supply milk for a sprouting cheese industry.

Brenda also did much of the leg work for growing the region’s tie-up sales to commercial venues that marketed Jersey replacements by the thousands to dairy producers in component pricing markets on the heels of Federal Order Reform. In 2008, more than $1.1 million worth of Jersey replacements were sold through two sales alone—the Vermont State Sale and the New England Spring Sale.

On the other end of the spectrum, she also helped breeders capitalize on crème de la crème genetics that have impacted the breed through their progeny. Included in this group are Molly Brook Fascinator Flower, with descendants on every continent but Antarctica, and Pearlmont Impuls Daffy, who sold in the 2008 All American Jersey Sale and became a genomic sensation when the industry began to identify the breed’s best based on DNA. Both were selected as finalists in the 2015 Jersey Journal Great Cow Contest and bred by Master Breeder recipients: Walter and Sally Goodrich of Molly Brook Farms, Danville, Vt., and William and Gwen Pearl of Pearlmont Farm, Barnet, Vt.

As an area representative, Brenda wore many other hats too in her quest to put dollars in the pockets of Jersey breeders. To the position, she brought drive and determination, grit and perseverance. She conducted business with a smile and kept her customers’ best interests at heart, always.

“The love breeders in her area had for her was always evident, and Brenda strove every day to keep that trust and commitment,” wrote Herby D. Lutz, who worked alongside Brenda as a former JMS manager and is now a sire analyst with Select Sires Inc. “No one was more committed to their breeders and area than Brenda.”

Before she was Area Representative Brenda Snow, she was Brenda Preston, a young Granite Stater who began working on farms at eight and got her feet wet on a dairy farm at 16. Within two weeks, she knew she would someday be a dairy farmer.

She earned an associate degree in dairy management from Vermont Technical College in 1977 and a bachelor’s degree in dairy science from Virginia Tech in 1984.

Between the two, she worked for a pair of prominent Holstein farms in Vermont: Lemax Farm of North Hartland and Howacres Farm of Tunbridge. A trailblazer, Brenda was the “herdsman” for these farms in an era before the term “herdsperson” came into existence.

The experience she gained at the Vermont farms managing cattle, marketing them in the U.S. and Europe, and clipping them for classification helped Brenda land milking jobs to pay her way through Virginia Tech.

After graduation, she began working in the A.I. sector as a district manager and sales development technician for ABS. She was an instructor for A.I. techniques and the company’s mating program in the Southeast, New England and Minnesota.

“In 1987, when Select Sires terminated its marketing agreement with Eastern A.I., Brenda was the first employee George Miller (sales manager) and Dick Chichester (general manager) hired to move to the Northeast to develop the market for Select Sires,” remarked Lutz. “She laid the foundation for the company’s success and relationships that continue today.”

In this position, Brenda got a true introduction to the amazing Jersey breeders from the Northeast and their deep-pedigree cattle, said Sara Barlass, who followed in her friend’s footsteps as an area representative for New York and is now a consultant for the AJCA.

The year 1987 was a year of impact for another important reason. Brenda and Wes began their lives together when she moved to Sno-Krest Farm.

She found her true calling when Maurice E. Core, executive secretary of the American Jersey Cattle Club (AJCC), hired Brenda as an area representative in July 1990. She was charged with developing markets for elite and surplus breeding stock, to increase farm income for breeders in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Over the years, her territory changed, and, in 2000, it included the six New England states. Brenda retired from the AJCA-NAJ in April 2022.

“Brenda was a tremendous asset to JMS her entire career,” Lutz noted. She went above and beyond to make transactions seamless and first-class, be they private treaty or public auction. She helped breeders make the always-hard decision to disperse and looked for the right answer every time.

Among the first Jersey farms to benefit from Brenda’s marketing efforts was Lucky Hill Farm LLP of Danville, Vt. “In the early 1990s, Henry and his parents were sending their excess heifer calves on the beef truck not realizing there was a market for them elsewhere,” noted Jennifer McReynolds, who operates the farm today with Henry, her husband, and their family. “It didn’t take Brenda long to stop by and convince them to raise and sell them on loads destined for the West Coast.”

With a keen eye for cattle, Brenda recognized high-quality Jerseys were being bred in her territory and knew it would be a win-win to bring together West Coast buyers and Northeast sellers, summed McReynolds.

David Norman, Liberty, Pa., also appreciated Brenda’s efforts as a Jersey breeder at Normandell Farms, a state sales volunteer, and a former AJCA director. “As territories changed, she was always willing to help us out. She was a major selector and worker for the sales hosted by Craig Rhein (Pine Grove, Pa). She was one of the first to arrive to check papers, feed and care for the heifers, sometimes totaling 300 head, and following through until all were sold.”

I also had first-hand experience working with Brenda when she needed a few animals to finish a load, Norman continued. “One of those animals ended up being a World Milk Champion (Normandell Khan Ariel) for Mike and Merna Fremstad (Westby, Wis).”

Another future famous female that “happened” to be on a load put together by Brenda was Blacky Rose of Briarcliffs, whose dam was purchased by Eric Leonard Silva, Beaver, Ore., from Henry W. Black, West Baldwin, Maine, in 1995 as a pasture-bred heifer due to Briarcliff B S Blackie. “Blacky Rose” was born at Silva’s Sunset Canyon Jerseys farm and eventually purchased by Waverly Farms of Clear Brook, Va., in partnership with several other breeders.  She was Reserve National Grand Champion in 2001 and won top laurels the following year.

Brenda understood the value of these animals was founded on identification and registration, production testing and appraisal, sire selection and corrective mating. She helped breeders see the power of what the AJCA had to offer. Among her greatest joys was watching newly assembled herds improve production, management and type traits through the use of AJCA programs.

Practicing what she preached, Brenda and her family used tools from the AJCA to breed a tremendous herd of Jerseys that produced well, bred back quickly and commanded premium prices at consignment sales. Lutz noted, “You could always count on potential buyers asking, ‘What’s the group from Sno-Krest like?’”

What kind of cows did the Snows breed? At one point, they had 20 “Berretta” daughters. Three were sold and never appraised. Fifteen of the 17 at home appraised as Very Good or Excellent. The herd ranked among the top 10 in the nation for genetic merit on many occasions.

The Snows received the Senior Breeder Award from the Vermont Jersey Breeders Association in 1999 and the Harold “Tuffy” Wright Distinguished Service Award in 2012. They earned the Boss Turner Distinguished Service Award from the New England Jersey Breeders Association in 1999. Most of the cows were sold in 2009 as a foundation herd for another young Jersey breeder.

The opportunity to breed cattle with Wes and observe differences between Holsteins and Jerseys solidified Brenda’s belief in the brown cow. The act gave her a solid foundation for understanding what Jersey breeders wanted and what they needed to continue to grow. It was a natural progression to work for the AJCC, and it was largely Jersey breeders who convinced her to take the job.

Her success also enabled Brenda to inspire seasoned and new-to-the-business Jersey breeders alike.

“When I came on board in 2007, Brenda had made a huge impact on a lot of breeders, especially women-owned and small herds,” said Barlass. “These herds were pushed to new levels thanks to her effort and compassion.”

McReynolds is one of the women Brenda mentored after they met in 1999. “I was fresh out of college working my first herdsman job at Lewis Creek Jerseys. Brenda stopped to check out the cows and choose a heifer for the Vermont Fall Sale. I was immediately drawn to her kind demeanor and knowledge of Jersey genetics. She quickly became a trusted colleague whom I could turn to for not only Jersey breeding and marketing advice but also general dairy industry knowledge.”

“Brenda Snow deserves accolades that should include fireworks, bands, horses and a parade for her accomplishments,” said Barlass. “In the 10 years I worked with her, I saw her efficiently and effectively navigate a market that was at times tough and stay focused on the ultimate goal of assisting Jersey breeders, not only with service but dollars in their pockets. She taught me this early: selling animals IS serving the Jersey customer.”

“It is her dedication to the Jersey breeders coast to coast and dairy farmers everywhere while being a loyal and friendly face and family person that makes her someone to emulate,” summed Lutz. “Every life Brenda touched is better for her service to this industry.”

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