Award of Merit

Over the years the dairy industry in Western Canada has benefited from the contributions of many individuals.

The John J Kennelly Western Canadian Dairy Seminar Award of Merit is inspired by the past contributions of Dr. John Kennelly to the seminar and is awarded by the advisory committee to an individual who has made a superior contribution in the areas of education, training, technology transfer or extension to the Western Canadian dairy industry. The award is made annually, if a suitable candidate is nominated, and presented to the recipient at the Seminar in the form of a plaque and a card explaining the history and rationale for the award.

To nominate an individual for the Award of Merit please fill out this form completely. Nominations must be received by January 15 to be eligible for consideration at the following Seminar.

Nominations can be emailed to, faxed to (780) 492-5771 or brought to the registration desk at the annual WCDS conference for consideration the following year.

For more information contact Kira Macmillan by email at, by phone at (780) 492-3236.

Josie Van Lent – 2020 Award of Merit Recipient

Josie Van Lent (Dean of the School of Agricultural Sciences at Lakeland College) receiving the John J Kennelly Western Canadian Dairy Seminar Award of Merit at the 2020 WCDS, March 11, 2020 in Red Deer, AB. Pictured with Nelson Dinn, Chair of the 2020 WCDS Advisory Committee.

Josie Van Lent began her career at Lakeland College in 2007 as Associate Dean of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.  In 2011 she became Dean of the School of Agriculture Sciences.  More recently, she has moved into the role of Dean of Agriculture Technology and Applied Research.  Prior to her employment at Lakeland, Josie worked in the crop service industry for the United Farmers of Alberta managing their crop input division in northeastern Alberta and for Webb’s Crop Services leading agronomy and crop input sales.  Josie started her career in 1982 as a District Agriculturist and in 1990 Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development moved her into a Beef Specialist role. Ms. Van Lent is also a partner in a 7,800 acre beef, crops and bison operation, which includes beef, crops, and bison enterprises.

“Ms. Van Lent has been instrumental in the success of the dairy programs at Lakeland College in Vermilion. It was through her vision and commitment that the college was able to build a state of the art new dairy barn. Under her leadership all the curriculum has been updated and is top notch for a dairy program course. As a result, the dairy industry can be proud of an educational institution that provides knowledge, research and is to a great benefit in supplying us with graduates that can help us grow the dairy industry. Ms. Van Lent continues to promote Lakeland College, it’s programs and the impact a good college has on the agricultural sector in Alberta and beyond!” Tietsia Huyzer

Josie states she is “proud to work with a great team of faculty and farm staff dedicated to the Dairy Program at Lakeland and shares this award with all of them, and with Geoff Brown, Associate Dean of Agriculture, who was also instrumental in the development of the dairy barn and program at Lakeland”.

Ms. Van Lent is actively involved in the agriculture community and serves on a number of boards and committees.  She currently serves on the University of Alberta’s Rangeland Research Institute – Advisory Council, and as Past President of the Canadian Association of Diploma Agriculture Programs.  She is also serving on Protein Canada’s Pan-Prairie Academic and Training Working Group and the Western Stock Grower Associations Grasslands Markets Project Committee.  Josie also served on the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency Technical Research Review Committee. She was the President of the Canadian Association of Diploma Agriculture Programs (2015 – 2017), the Vice Chairman and Director of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (2005 – 2015), and Director of the Alberta Conservation Tillage Society (1999 – 2014). As well she is an active member of the local Vermilion Agricultural Society.


Initial Recipient

Dr. John Kennelly
Initial recipient of the Award of Merit presented at Western Canadian Dairy Seminar March 2002

Congratulations to John Kennelly who was presented with the Award of Merit at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar (March 5-8, 2002).

John is the initial recipient. In the future, this award will be presented annually at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar to “an individual in the western Canadian dairy industry who has made a superior contribution in the areas of education, training, technology transfer or extension”.


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