Don Schwartz, farm manager at Quality Holsteins, Vaughan, Ont., was named the winner of the 2012 Curtis Clark Achievement Award at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Ont., on November 9th. He is the 26th recipient of this coveted award which was established in 1988 by the Alberta Holstein Branch to honour the lifelong contributions of the late Curtis Clark of Acme Holsteins, a highly regarded Alberta Holstein breeder and showman. The award is presented annually to the dairy cattle exhibitor who possesses the ability, sportsmanship and character necessary to be respected by his fellow breeders and showmen. Selection of the winner is made by former recipients of the award.
A man of many talents, Don Schwartz has been involved with dairy cattle all his life. Schwartz was only 13 years old when his father, Jim Schwartz, farm manager and later owner of Tannery Hill Farms, King City, Ont., died. This well-known Guernsey farm had eight consecutive Guernsey grand champion females and won 23 Premier Breeder and Exhibitor titles at the Royal Winter Fair before switching to Holsteins and then being dispersed in 1979. Active in 4-H, Junior Farmers and sports as a youth, Schwartz always knew he wanted to be a farm manager like his father.
After completing high school, Schwartz spent a couple months working with the Hanover Hill Holsteins showstring. He followed this with full-time jobs at Echobrook Jerseys, Edgar Wilson, and then Ravenswell Holsteins where he made the mating that produced the noted Ravenswell Lydia EX-92 USA DOM 19*. Schwartz also owned a few Guernseys during this time and at the 1989 World Guernsey Conference in Canada owned part of the grand and reserve grand champion cows.
In June 1989, Schwartz began working at Quality Holsteins, the deep-pedigreed, show winning and high typed herd owned by Paul Ekstein and his son Ari. A valued member of the Quality farm team now for over 23 years, Schwartz’s role on the farm involves everything from milking, feeding, herd health, showing, looking after the embryo transfer program, coordinating the fieldwork, and sharing in the decision making with the Eksteins. He possesses an innate sense for feeding and caring for animals and willingly shares that knowledge with other dairymen and young people who seek his advice. The Quality herd attracts hundreds of visitors each year and is known for its impeccable presentation of animals and facilities.
Schwartz feels very fortunate to have been a part of so many memorable achievements at Quality Holsteins like the success of Quality B C Frantisco EX-96 3E 18*, the 2004 and 2005 grand champion Holstein and Supreme Champion at the Royal Winter Fair who took five All-Canadian titles. Or seeing Frantisco and Quality Astre Felice EX 27*, both members of Quality’s famed Plushanski Valiant Fran EX 90 USA DOM 35* family, win Holstein Canada’s “Cow of the Year” award in 2005 and 2002, respectively. He has also shared in the preparation of all but one of the 21 Quality Breeder’s Herds who have been nominated for All-Canadian and won a record setting seven All-Canadian awards. And he has thrilled in the recent showring performance of Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-89 2yr, who was nominated for All-Canadian milking yearling in 2011. He also finds excitement today in owning about 20 animals in partnership with Quality Holsteins.
Schwartz has a very special relationship with his employer Paul Ekstein. “Paul has really been great to me. I have learned a lot from his determination, work ethic and passion for dairy cattle,” he says of the man who has achieved three Master Breeder shields and been inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Schwartz, 50, is a past president and director of the York Region Holstein Club. A truly dedicated cow man possessing a great sense of humour and a warm smile, Schwartz has been supported throughout his many endeavours by his wife Linda and their two children, Randy and Erin. His brother David has also been a big influence in his life.
A humble and emotional Don Schwartz says being recognized with the Curtis Clark Award “means everything to me”. As the 2012 award recipient, Schwartz received a gold belt buckle as a personal keepsake and his name will be added to the distinctive Clark trophy which bears a bronzed version of Curtis Clark’s hat.