The Alumni Medallion
The highest honor K-State bestows on its graduates is the Alumni Medallion, presented during spring Commencement ceremonies. Ivan K. Strickler '47, Iola, Kan., and Stephen B. Holloway '65, Overland Park, Kan., were the recipients of the 2000 Medallion. The award recognizes lifetime professional and humanitarian service, said Amy Button Renz '76, '86, president of the K-State Alumni Association, the sponsor of the award. Strickler and Holloway received the honor during their respective agriculture and architecture, planning and design graduation exercises on May 13. A total of 44 medallions have been bestowed since the program began in 1969.
Stephen Holloway '65 has rallied support for health, education and housing for Jamaica's neediest youth and other residents in the rural, mountainous region of the island.
Since 1980, the self-employed architect from Overland Park, Kan., has led eight delegations of doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, construction workers, computer specialists and others to work at Jamaica's Oberlin High School, a vocational school serving 1,800 students from the low income farm area. To coordinate work between the Kansas volunteers and Oberlin High School, Holloway and others formed Jamaica Partners Inc., a non-profit service organization.
Volunteers from 12 other states now have joined these "work camps" of volunteers. They journey to an area 18 miles from Kingston, Jamaica, known as the Lawrence Tavern area. There they have built a health clinic, library and science education center. Holloway designed these buildings and raised the millions of Jamaican dollars needed to build them. He also participated in the construction and is planning another work camp in 2001 to complete a third story on the science education center.
"Steve is an excellent ambassador for his country," said Richmond Nelson, general secretary of the United Church of Jamaica and The Cayman Island and former principal of the high school. "He has reached across the seas to break down barriers of race and class and to build bridges of understanding between peoples of different cultures."
A pediatrician who joined one of the work camps, Dr. Betse M. Gage, said, "I am amazed at Steve's energy and devotion to the people of Jamaica and his genuine desire to do whatever he can to improve lives. He has truly given the best of himself, as well as his time, talents and money to making a difference in the world."
Following the destruction by Hurricane Gilbert in 1998, Holloway helped spearhead the shipment of tons of building materials and organized volunteers to travel to Jamaica to repair educational facilities. Current volunteers build houses for Jamaicans left homeless by Gilbert.
During the 1991 work camp, Holloway and the 24 volunteers poured the health clinic's concrete footings — bucket-by-bucket — for the two-story structure, while the volunteers also found time to render medical and educational services to the poor. Today, more than 2,000 student and other residents use the clinic each week.
Holloway's wife, Mary R. Steinbrink Holloway '66, recalled the words of the Jamaican Governor General Sir Howard Cooke during the dedication of the medical clinic.
"In thanking Steve for his humanitarian efforts," she said. "the Governor General called the medical center the most excellent facility in the most needy and unlikely location."
As a result of Holloway's two decades of service, the Jamaican minister of education recognized him in 1998 by dedicating a portion of the science education center as the Stephen B. Holloway Science Laboratory.
He and his wife have two adult children. Wendy L. Holloway Morton of Orlando, Fla., and Kelly B. Holloway '93, '94, of Lenexa, Kan.
After earning a degree in dairy science from K-State in 1947, Ivan Strickler went on to influence the socio-economic well-being of the nation's dairy farmers, and the global dairy industry.
Using his own dairy operation in rural Iola, Strickler became known as an innovator for the industry as he applied the latest dairy research procedures, said Ed Call, K-State emeritus professor of animal sciences. For example, Strickler was one of the first producers to use embryo transfer as a means to hasten production through genetic gain.
As a result, he has had hundreds of cows with lifetime production records exceeding 100,000 pounds of milk, and dozens of his Holstein bulls have been used in breeding programs in the U.S. and other countries. However, Strickler's international influence stemmed from his longtime leadership in some of the nation's largest dairy organizations.
He spent 12 years as director and president of the National Holstein Association, the largest dairy breed registry organization in the world. During his tenure, Strickler visited and spoke to dairy organization in nearly every state. He also made 24 trips outside the nation on behalf of the association and to judge at international dairy shows.
Strickler then served 13 years as board president of Mid-America Dairymen Inc., the largest milk marketing cooperative in the U.S., with 20,000 members. Strickler was instrumental in developing new markets for dairy products.
In 1984, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture John Block selected Strickler to be a charter member of the National Dairy Research and Promotion Board. He served five years as its first president. Under his leadership, the board was credited for increasing dairy product consumption by 12 percent, an achievement that Call said was "an achievement not believed possible."
A national dairy magazine said of Strickler at the time, he "doesn't look like the kind of man you'd find as chairman. He's mild-mannered, pleasant and soft-spoken — hardly the type you'd think would want the hopes and dreams of an entire industry on his shoulders. But as the former president of the Holstein Association, he does know dairy farmers. And as a dairyman himself, he knows what their problems are and what needs to be done to solve them."
Subsequently, Strickler worked with Congress and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on dairy policy issues and legislation, Call said. He also represented the nation on various international trade missions.
After Strickler represented the U.S. at a European dairy conference in London in 1989 and spoke on free trade, the former head of the U.S. Foreign Ag Service, David Hume, said, "You have given the world dairy industry a vision that it did not have before."
Closer to home, Strickler has been a life-long dairy industry ambassador in the state of Kansas. Sensing the need to expand youth dairy activities, he sought the cooperation of several groups to establish the Kansas All-Breeds Junior Dairy Show, an annual event that continues 33 years later.
In 1997, Strickler wrote a book, Wholly Cow, We Did It!, sharing his half century of stories working on a Kansas dairy farm to his experiences meeting with leaders in the White House and international trade missions. Proceeds from the book support scholarships for dairy youth.
He and his wife, Madge Strickler, have two sons in the family dairy operation of more than 1,100 animals with an annual production of 10 million pounds of milk. They are Steven Strickler '74 and Doug Strickler, who attended K-State. A third son, Thomas Strickler '76, is the farm's financial adviser.