Five outstanding individuals are being honored with National Dairy Shrine’s Pioneer Award this year in recognition of their longtime service and contributions to the dairy cattle industry. The five join an elite group of industry leaders whose stories and portraits are part of Dairy Shrine’s National Dairy Hall of Fame and Museum in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
Among this year’s Pioneer honorees is Dr. Sheila M. McGuirk of Dodgeville, Wisconsin, the respected large animal veterinarian and retired , (UW SVM) instructor. A world-renowned expert in dairy calf care and replacement management, her vast knowledge and talent for conveying practical information has earned her the respect of dairy producers, fellow veterinarians and the industry.
After graduating from Cornell University, McGuirk went on to obtain her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of Georgia in 1977, and then Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. In 1983, McGuirk became one of the founding faculty members of the University of Wisconsin’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She would help to shape the curriculum and culture of what is one of the country’s outstanding veterinary schools. As a professor, McGuirk provided teaching and clinical training over the course of her career to some 2400 veterinary students. Her research focused on the development of clinical tools for the prevention, early detection, and effective treatment and control of common health conditions of dairy calves and cows. She was twice honored with the Norden Distinguished Teaching Award (1990 and 1994) and in 2010 was awarded Kansas State University’s “Legend in Academic Medicine” award. In February 2016, McGuirk retired from the UW faculty after 33 distinguished years.
A highly regarded authority on raising healthy dairy calves and troubleshooting herd health problems, McGuirk has influenced how calf health is investigated, measured and classified on dairy farms and in research. Her numerous publications, and extensive extension work on calf health, have served as a reference for dairy producers and veterinarians around the world. She has shared her knowledge at hundreds of veterinary meetings. Since 1999, she has written and answered countless questions in a monthly Veterinary Column in Hoard’s Dairyman magazine. As Steve Larson of Hoard’s Dairyman states, “For decades, she has been the world’s ‘go to’ person on all matters related to raising healthy dairy replacements and veal calves.”
McGuirk has inspired, mentored and opened doors for other women in the dairy cattle industry with her warmth, humanity and grace. She has been the recipient of many awards. In 2018, she was named the American Association of Bovine Practitioners’ (AABP) “Mentor of the Year”. She is one of only three women to have ever earned AABP’s “Award of Excellence” (1998). She is a two-time winner of the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association’s “Veterinarian of the Year” Award (2000 and 2016). In 2013, she was one of only two women named in Bovine Veterinarian magazine’s “Top 20 Most Influential Dairy and Beef Cattle Veterinarians”.
McGuirk has been a volunteer at World Dairy Expo (WDE) for the past 35 years. “Sheila has been a tireless advocate for the health and well-being of the 2300-head of elite show cattle housed annually at World Dairy Expo,” says Scott Bentley of WDE. McGuirk was instrumental in implementing the formal cattle check-in process at WDE where she also recruits and trains UW veterinary students in the procedure. She plays a key role in upholding WDE’s show ethics standards and in serving as a general cow health consultant during the show. She is the first, and only woman, to have ever been honored as WDE’s “Industry Person of the Year” (2012).
Dr. Sheila McGuirk will be recognized with the Pioneer Award at the 2019 National Dairy Shrine Awards Banquet on Thursday, October 3rd in Madison, Wisconsin. For more information about the banquet, or the students, producers and dairy industry individuals being recognized by National Dairy Shrine, contact National Dairy Shrine’s office at [email protected] To learn more about Dairy Shrine and how to become a member, visit Dairy Shrine.