Reprinted from MCC’s Summer 2012 Career Focus magazine.
Sherry Meyer has been involved in animal agriculture since she was a child.
She grew up on a family-owned and operated dairy farm near Stanton and now she and her husband, Paul Meyer, own and operate Rod-er-Dic Holsteins in Byron Center, Mich. They are highly-respected breeders in the state’s Holstein, Jersey and Brown Swiss dairy cattle industries.
Meyer attended Montcalm Community College from 1987 through 1988, where she completed coursework to fulfill general education requirements as a transfer student to Michigan State University. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from MSU in 1991.
“MCC provided a good educational foundation for me,” Meyer says. “I was able to take classes to complete my basic requirements for a lot less money than it cost to finish my degree at MSU.
“I appreciated that I could live at home and continue working on the farm while I attended MCC,” she says. “I enjoyed the atmosphere and small class sizes, especially after I transferred to MSU and ended up in an auditorium of 500 students for some of my classes.”
Meyer has a longtime passion for working with animals.
“The first milk was shipped from our family farm in May 1981, so you could say I grew up with cows,” says Meyer, who was 12 years old at the time. “I always helped with chores and as I grew older, I assumed more and more responsibility for daily farm operations.”
Upon graduation from MSU, Meyer returned to her family’s farm, Strautz Holsteins, and entered into an informal farming partnership with her parents, Pat and Chuck Strautz. She and her mom worked together nearly every day completing the daily farming operations until Pat retired and Sherry left the farm in April 2008. While much of the herd was sold, Meyer and her husband moved animals from each of Strautz Holsteins’ historic cow families to their farm in Byron Center, thus preserving the genetics they worked to build over a nearly 30-year timeframe.
Meyer says she and her husband enjoy improving animals in their herd by putting to work their knowledge of genetics to breed cows that are more appealing to the eye and have increased milk production traits. Their efforts have earned them hundreds of top placings at cattle shows throughout the state. Two years ago, a heifer bred by Rod-er-Dic Holsteins placed fourth in the world at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.
“That was one of our most exciting moments,” she says.
In 2008, Meyer earned the Michigan Holstein Association’s Outstanding Young Breeder Award – the organization’s highest honor – for her achievements as a top dairy cattle breeder in the state. She currently serves as vice president of the Michigan Holstein Association and in 2014, she will become the first-ever female president of the organization. She also has served in several leadership roles with Michigan Farm Bureau at both the county and state levels, and with the Montcalm County and Kent County 4-H programs.
Meyer says her education in animal science has contributed to her successes, and she is glad that MCC is adding some agricultural courses to its offerings.
“Agriculture is our state’s No. 2 industry and it is imperative to the success of Montcalm County,” she says. “I have long thought that agriculture should be front and center in our schools, and I’m glad that Montcalm Community College has added an animal science course to its curriculum that transfers to MSU.”