HARRISONBURG — A former Virginia State Dairymen’s Association president and his daughter became the third and fourth person from the Harrisonburg-Rockingham area to be inducted into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame, with one possibly being the youngest inductee to date.
Dan Myers, 79, and his daughter Teresa Callender, 54, own and operate a Holstein breeding establishment south of Harrisonburg called Walkup Farm that has been in the family for several generations.
They were nominated by the Virginia State Dairymen’s Association, becoming the second nomination to be inducted as a pair at the end of last month.
“It was very much of an honor and shock,” Callender said. “I always viewed what the dairy industry has done for me, never thought about what I had done for them.”
Ike Eller, chair of the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame Operating Committee, said Callender is likely the youngest person inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The Livestock Hall of Fame was established in 2009 and is made up of five organizations: Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, Virginia State Dairymen’s Association, Virginia Pork Producers Association, Virginia Sheep Producers Association and the Virginia Horse Council.
Each organization is asked to nominate someone each year. As of Sept. 28, 72 people have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Myers said George Miller, a previous Hall of Fame inductee, reached out to him and Callender to set up the nomination.
“It was something I never anticipated,” Myers said. “I always felt [the nomination] was beyond what we were doing. This is an honor beyond what we could ever wish for.”
Myers and his wife, Charlotte, purchased the 110-acre farm in 1968, becoming the fifth generation to operate the property since the family purchased it a decade after the end of the Civil War. Their grandchildren make the seventh generation to live on the farm since 1877.
Prior to taking over the farm, Myers taught math at Broadway High School for four years, with the last two years serving as an assistant principal.
Chuck Miller, a retired Virginia Tech dairy scientist who introduced Myers and Callender during the ceremony, said “it seemed [Myers’] heart was at home on the farm,” leading to his departure from teaching to farm full time.
Myers has built an extensive portfolio over the years, serving on the Virginia United Dairy Industry Association board for more than 20 years, the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association board for 15 years, and the Staunton Farm Credit Association board for eight years.
Myers and Callender’s nomination largely stemmed from their farm’s legacy of producing exceptional Holsteins, according to Chuck Miller, who said Walkup Holsteins have a long history of making a tremendous impact on Holstein breeding in the dairy industry, in Virginia and beyond.
“Our family bred and raised the Holstein High Honorable Mention Junior Yearling All American in 1975,” Myers said. “We also bred and raised Teresa’s cow [Walkup Astronaut Lou Ann] receiving Junior All American status for three consecutive years and twice nominated for adult All American. In 2016 that cow was voted one of seven most influential cows in Virginia.”
Lou Ann was named Grand Champion four times at the Virginia State Show and developed into an outstanding brood cow, producing female offspring that were in high demand, Miller said.
“Lou Ann’s legacy through her daughters on the international scene produced sires in the United States, Holland, Germany and France,” Miller said. “All of this contributed to Lou Ann’s lasting global influence, resulting in her being named the third highest ranking female in Holstein International’s Cows of the Century.”
As Walkup Holsteins celebrates its 142nd anniversary, Myers said he wants to say thank you to those who nominated him and Callender, as well as his family and friends.
“This honor brings recognition to Rockingham County, that there are some of us here who didn’t work for an award, but what we believe in,” Myers said. “Some people wonder why an almost 80-year-old man hasn’t retired. … That is what we do. That is our life.”