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Bill Robb Retires

George Atkeson
Retired MSU Extension Dairy Agent, & Kathy Lee, MSU Extension Dairy Educator

Bill Robb
Photo: Mary Robb

On September 30, 2010 G. William (Bill) Robb retired from MSU Extension.  During his career, Bill was a friend and educator for Michigan dairy producers and agricultural industry.

Bill Robb's entire life has been involved in and dedicated to the Michigan dairy industry. Born and raised on a dairy farm in the Fowlerville area, he was taught well how to work with cows and people by his father, George Robb, who was a registered Holstein breeder. They both loved to show their cattle and compete.

Learning the crop farming needs for the cows gave Bill a total farming experience as he grew up.  He was involved in 4-H as were his six sisters and one brother.

After high school he attended Michigan State University and received a B.S. in Dairy Science. He continued his education at Pennsylvania State University with a Master’s of Science degree in Dairy Science, with a focus on dairy reproduction.

Bill started his career with MSU Extension in July 1976 as a Dairy-Livestock Agent in St. Clair and Macomb counties. Other positions that he held with MSU Extension were:
•  1980-1989  County Extension Director, Mason County
•  1989-1995  County Extension Director, Allegan County
•  1995-2005  Extension Dairy Agent, Southwest Michigan
•  2005-2009  Extension Dairy Educator, West Central Michigan
•  2009-2010  Extension Senior Dairy Educator, West Central Michigan

In the changing culture in which we now live, Bill is unique in that he has worked for only one organization during his entire professional career of 34 years. You might say he knows Extension inside out.

Bill has some qualities that make him special as an educator and a role model for his Extension colleagues. Over the years he has adapted to many changes in both teaching and communications such as computers, cell phones, ipods, PowerPoint presentations and the Internet.

As well as the new technology, Bill experienced several organization changes within MSU Extension. Ultimately he had the ability to stay focused on providing relevant programs to the people on the farms and in the related agribusinesses.

His connections with the dairy industry have been exceptional. He knew personally most veterinarians and feed dealers in the area to which he was assigned and often worked with them regarding concerns of producers. He also had a good relationship with farmer organizations associated with the dairy industry.

For many years Bill had a weekly radio show that helped him and producers stay connected. It also was a great public relations tool for letting people in the county know that he and MSU Extension were working for them. A news column also kept producers and the general public informed about dairy issues.

Perhaps his strongest tool for staying connected to all producers was his newsletter. It was timely and contained information for the dairy producers that he may not have worked with individually but still wanted to keep informed as to changes and events in their industry. In 2000 Bill received the National Communications

Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents for his outstanding dairy newsletter, "Dairylines".

Bill conducted a number of educational programs related to dairy production and management. Some of his most significant projects included a mastitis mail program, milk marketing and multiple component pricing, Spanish Dairy Phrases CD-ROM, Dairy Employee Education Program (DEEP), Telfarm and business financial management, livestock manure management programs, Spartan Dairy Ration software, and most recently artisan cheese classes at the MSU Dairy Plant.

Bill placed strong emphasis on the economic implications of business and management changes that he discussed with producers. He was a strong supporter of a business plan and business analysis as both related to current and future decisions on the farm.

Producers appreciated Bill's direct procedure in addressing a problem or a request for information. If he did not know he said so, but then would follow up with the answer in a timely manner.

In addition to the award for his outstanding newsletter, Bill has received the following recognition for his excellent Extension programming and leadership:
•  Achievement Award - National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA)
•  Distinguished Service Award - NACAA
•  MSU Extension Team Award – Epsilon Sigma Phi
•  President’s Citation - Michigan Association of Extension Agents

Bill’s friends and colleagues know he loves to hunt and fish. These are two ways that he relaxes and shares time with his friends. He knows every back road and riding with him is an experience. He likes to keep the pedal to the metal.

The MSU Extension Dairy Team thanks him for sharing his experience and leadership. The dairy producers and the dairy industry wish him well in his retirement as he has served them well.

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