Cari Wolfe has announced her retirement from the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) effective June 1, 2022. Wolfe completed 40 years of service with the USJersey organizations across five decades of employment in January.
“We have been most fortunate to have her talents and expertise available to us for so many years,” said Neal Smith, Executive Secretary and CEO of AJCA and National All-Jersey Inc. (NAJ). “Cari is a person that has always made things happen. She has never sat idly by wondering what would come of something. She got involved in making sure the Jersey cow and her breeders had the tools to be the most profitable and efficient they could be. We wish her the best in her retirement.”
The Jersey cow has been a large part of Cari’s life since she was a child. She and her family had Jerseys on their farm, Jer-Nan Farm, Bridgewater, N.J.
Cari received a master’s degree in dairy cattle breeding from North Carolina State University after completing her undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech.
She began her employment with the American Jersey Cattle Club as a southeast area representative in January 1982. While working in the southeast, Cari met her husband, Larry, and the two eventually relocated to Reynoldsburg, Ohio, to begin working at the main office in 1987.
Cari served two years as coordinator of Jersey Marketing Service before taking the role of Director of Research and Genetic Program Development in July 1989.
In this capacity she was asked to develop new programs to encourage increased production of protein relative to fat and explore ways to work with milk producers owning cattle less than 100% Jersey. As well, this began her work as a liaison with the university personnel in conducting research funded by the AJCC Research Foundation and encouraging additional Jersey-specific research in priority areas.
“Cari has been a major asset for a small organization and members of USJersey,” said Smith. “She is a tremendous resource for our breed with her depth of knowledge in the genetic field. The Jersey cow and its breeders have reaped the benefits of her work.”
Wolfe has worked closely with Dr. Ronald Pearson (Virginia Tech) and Dr. Kent Weigel (University of Wisconsin-Madison) over the past four decades to develop a Jersey-specific breeding tool—first PTI (Production Type Index) and now JPI (Jersey Performance Index). This work led her to help build P-Levels for heifers to give independent rankings within the breed.
“Cari has been a terrific partner over the years, and she embodies all the reasons I enjoy working with AJCA,” said Dr. Weigel. “Her dedication, forward-looking mindset, and positive attitude are infectious, and it has been a pleasure to collaborate on many projects and initiatives.”
JerseyMate is the unbiased mating program developed by the USJersey team, and a collaborative effort of Wolfe and USJersey IT teams. Through the years it has seen modifications to add Jersey Haplotype (JH1) risk management, as well as most recently tools to identify Jersey Neuropathy of Splayed Forelimbs (JNS) carriers to avoid high risk matings.
Cari’s work with genetic abnormalities has been most beneficial to the breed. She was instrumental in tracking, researching and working with breed leadership when genetic abnormalities such as JNS were discovered. Her attention to detail has been key in the breed managing and lessening the role of these potential devastating factors.
Her work with industry leaders such as Dr. Ben McDaniel, Dr. John Wilk, and Dr. Paul VanRaden was instrumental in developing kinship values and later in developing Expected Future Inbreeding tools to manage the concern in the breed. In addition, she helped develop an inbreeding calculator for Jersey breeders as part of the effort to manage it. She also led the charge to create the Genetic Diversity Program from Jersey bulls.
Cari was the liaison between the Jersey breeders and five regional young sire programs—Dixieland Jersey Sires, Liberty Jersey Sires, Dairyland Jersey Sires, New England Jersey Sires, and Great Western Jersey Sires. Wolfe worked with the breeders and A.I. company representatives to sample young bulls to accelerate genetic growth to breeders using the chosen young sires.
Wolfe has always worn many hats in her role with the Jersey association. She contributes editorial content to Jersey Journal and GreenBook as well as manages content of the printed Green Book and digital version produced after genetic summaries. When genomics was introduced to the dairy industry, Wolfe presented weekly and then monthly webinars updating the industry on the latest developments with the tool. She is the lead person of the Jersey associations to the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) regarding genetic information.
In addition, Wolfe has been influential in the Type Traits Appraisal program. She works closely with the appraisers and the Type Committee to analyze data quarterly from the appraisers. She also works behind the scenes to ensure that updates are routinely made to calculated final score to keep it relevant with appraisal needs.
“Cari has been a ‘most valuable player’ of the Jersey association for decades,” said James Huffard, Crockett, Va., past president of the association and current member of the Type Advisory Committee and Research Advisory Committee. “As Director of the AJCA genetic programs, her contributions are showcased yearly as our genetic and production levels continually increase. She has also been the caretaker of our excellent appraisal program. These programs, appraisal, genomics and research have been steering the breed forward thanks to her knowledge, hard work and dedication.”
Cari not only has gained the respect of her colleagues at USJersey, but of the dairy industry as well. She is a member of the USDA/ARS National Animal Germplasm Program, the CDCB Dairy Evaluation Review Team and the Genetic Evaluations Methods Committee. Wolfe is also a guest of the National Association of Animal Breeders Dairy Sire Evaluation Committee.
“The Jersey cow brings great joy to breeders and is sought after as a profitable commercial choice by many, as evidenced by breed growth,” said Wolfe. “I have been fortunate to facilitate collaborative efforts of Jersey breeders, dairy academia, dairy industry and AJCA and NAJ leadership and staff to produce valuable tools for improving the Jersey cow. Together we have continued to increase production and improve functionality of our cow. I am proud of the Jersey cow.”
While Cari’s love of the Jersey cow will certainly continue into retirement, she will be able to focus on other interests as well. For more than two decades, she has been active with Altrusa International of Columbus, Ohio, serving the literacy organization as director and officer and volunteering for countless committees. She is also passionate about everything related to gardening and beautiful food, including products made with Jersey milk.
Cari and Larry are most proud of their daughter, Rebecca, who is lives in the suburbs of New York City.
For over 150 years, the American Jersey Cattle Association has maintained identification and performance records for dairy herd owners and delivered services that support genetic improvement and greater profitability through increasing the value of and demand for Registered Jersey™ cattle and genetics, and Jersey milk and milk products. For more information, contact the American Jersey Cattle Association by writing 6486 E. Main Street, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068-2362, visit USJersey, or connect on Facebook.