Kaercher receives 2024 CANR Distinguished Service Award

Maurice (Maury) Kaercher will receive the 2024 CANR Distinguished Service Award during the annual ANR Awards on Friday, March 1.

Maurice (Maury) Kaercher headshot.

Maurice (Maury) Kaercher, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, will receive the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Distinguished Service Award at the March 1 ANR Awards Program.

The Distinguished Service Award honors individuals or partners who have made outstanding contributions to Michigan’s agriculture and natural resources industries, and who possess high standards of integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of the college.

Starting from a young age, Kaercher’s world has revolved around agriculture. He grew up on a small family farm in southwest Michigan. After graduating high school, Kaercher joined the MSU AgTech program, completing the two-year program in 1965 with a specialization in livestock. He then spent five years serving his country in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. Upon returning home from military service, Kaercher came back to MSU and completed his bachelor’s degree in animal science.

During his time in the animal science program, he was active in the Block and Bridle Club, Meats Judging and Livestock Judging Teams. These experiences deepened his passion for agriculture and commitment to service. After graduating from MSU, he worked as a vocational agriculture teacher, in seed sales as a district representative, managed a cow calf operation and served as Kalamazoo County 4-H Leaders Council President from 1979-1983.

Kaercher retired as MSU Extension director and livestock agent for St. Joseph County after 28 years of dedicated service. He started with Extension in 1984 as a Kalamazoo County agriculture extension agent. In 2003, he transitioned to an area livestock agent covering five counties in Southwest Michigan. Kaercher became MSU Extension director for St. Joseph County in 2006, a role he held until his retirement in 2011.

During his career with Extension, Kaercher was responsible for many important accomplishments and initiatives benefiting Michigan’s agriculture community. He was instrumental in creating the “Miracle of Birth” exhibits at both the Kalamazoo and St. Joseph County fairs. This popular exhibition helps connect and educate the public on agriculture’s role in food production. He is responsible for bringing Annie’s Project to Michigan, an initiative focused on empowering women in agriculture and farm management. He also initiated the first grazing program in southwest Michigan and organized Salute to the American Farmer Day for the St. Joseph County Fair.

Kaercher’s distinguished service and achievements have earned him numerous awards and recognitions. This includes the MSU Extension Distinguished Service Award, St. Joseph County and Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Awards, the MSU Extension Citation Award and the St. Joseph County 4-H Above and Beyond Award. In 2020 he was MSU’s Block and Bridle Club’s Recognition Banquet Honored Guest recipient and in 2022 he was inducted into the Michigan Farmers Hall of Fame.

Upon retiring from MSU Extension, Kaercher became Executive Director of the Michigan Sheep Producers Association where he made many seminal contributions to the genesis and success of the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture (M-AAA). Formed in 2014, M-AAA promotes further communication and partnership of animal agriculture and allied industries in Michigan with MSU. He was a founding partner and made a major contribution to the development of goals and expectations for the M-AAA. In 2021, he received the Service to the Industry Award from the Michigan Sheep Producers Association.

Kaercher has also been an active board member of the Michigan Cattleman’s Association (MCA) for over 25 years. He served as president from 1999-2000 and was named member of the year in 2002. As MCA member and Extension Educator, Kaercher played a major role in starting the first graded/vaccinated, verified feeder calf sale in Michigan. He has also served on the International Marketing Committee for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. In 2023, Kaercher was instrumental in organizing a reunion for MSU animal livestock judging teams. This event drew approximately 100 judging team members from early 1950 to present judging teams.

Kaercher has been married to his wife Nancy for over 55 years. Both of their sons attended MSU, and they hope their granddaughters will as well. He has a cow/calf herd of about 60 that started when he was a young 4-H member. He has also actively served on the Kalamazoo Veterans Service Affairs committee to help create opportunities for fellow veterans in his community.


Did you find this article useful?