Nathan Thomas of North Lewisburg, Ohio, was presented the 32nd Klussendorf-MacKenzie Award during World Dairy Expo® 2023, in memory of Duncan MacKenzie, the 1961 Klussendorf winner. While this year’s Klussendorf-MacKenzie award winner has an impressive dairy résumé, it is most important to note that Thomas exemplifies the standards that made Duncan MacKenzie the forbearer of this award.
Although this year’s MacKenzie winner did not grow up on a dairy farm, his grandfather managed several well-known Guernsey herds, and his uncle also had a dairy herd. With those dairy-farming relatives in his constant eyesight, a young Nathan Thomas persistently bothered his father until he was able to purchase a grade heifer to show at the county fair.
With that foundation established, Thomas continued to improve the type and conformation in his cattle. During high school, this Ohio native began working at several shows and sales including helping Wayne Sliker of Modern Associates. With his high school diploma in hand, Thomas went on the road fitting cattle and continued to work with many top show strings across the U.S., and internationally in Canada, Mexico, Australia, Italy, Spain, and Colombia. Some of the farms he has worked for over the years include Rider Jerseys, Exels Holsteins, Maple-Lawn, Air-Osa Dairy, Spring Valley Jerseys, Elmvue Farm, and Vierra Dairy, who has exhibited the Grand Champion at World Dairy Expo’s International Jersey Show for the last four years.
For the past 16 years, Thomas and his family have dairy farmed at Triple-T Holsteins and Jerseys near North Lewisburg, Ohio. Thomas and his wife, Jenny, own the farm with Nathan’s father, John, and his brother, Andy. During that time, Triple-T has bred, developed, sold, and cared for over 130 All-American and All-Canadian nominations and has also had the honor of having the nation’s highest BAA or Breed Age Average ranking for conformation. Thomas also bred and owned the Holstein Association USA’s 2018 Star of the Breed.
To this day, Thomas still owns cattle with many of the same friends and mentors that helped get him where he is today. He has also become a mentor to many young people who are making names for themselves in the business. Over the past eight years, Thomas and his wife, Jenny, along with partner, the late Michael Heath, have managed several sales focusing on promoting and marketing Jerseys and Holsteins.
Whether it is the beginning of the week or a busy show day, Thomas always maintains an attractive display and a well-orchestrated crew that’s meticulous about every detail. Thomas would be quick to thank his wife, Jenny, and their three children, Colton, Kendall, and Camryn for their work on the farm.
The Klussendorf Memorial Association, considered by many as the Hall of Fame for dairy cattle exhibitors, began in 1937 in memory of Arthur B. Klussendorf, considered the outstanding dairy cattle showman of his time. Each year, the Klussendorf Association votes to add a new dairy cattle exhibitor to its rolls with lifetime membership for their cumulative works.