Association of Women in Agriculture Benefit Corporation Recognizes Outstanding Individuals for Their Contributions

MADISON, Wis. [June 23, 2023] – Six outstanding individuals were honored by the Association of Women in Agriculture Benefit Corporation (AWABC) for their outstanding contributions to AWA and the agricultural community. Recognized individuals include Founding Members of AWA, Mary Knigge, Alexis Kwak, Julie Larson, Anna Gudenkauf and Deb Wendorf-Boyke.

In recognition of 50 years of the Association of Women in Agriculture, the AWA Founders Award was presented to the 10 founding members of AWA: Donna Cooper Humphreys, Emily Knigge Uhlenhake, Jody Spanul, Lois Setter Legatt, Sue Lazarcik Lerner, Sue Fritz Alderman, Sue North Gall, Kathy Waite Braun, Patty Prust Heckart and Phyllis Gerner Agnew. The Founders Award is presented to someone who has had a significant influence on students and alumni of AWA. These women had a dream and vision for more. They established an organization of women passionate about agriculture who created memories, lifelong friendships, a network of support, and professional development to become leaders in every way possible.

Mary Knigge was recognized as Outstanding Woman in Agriculture. The Outstanding Woman in Agriculture is recognized for her significant influence on the agricultural industry. Mary is passionate about and committed to the agriculture industry. She has spent many years working within the industry including 8 years as professional staff on the House Committee on Agriculture where she was responsible for livestock related issues. She now advocates on behalf of dairy farmers on Capitol Hill and with U.S. government agencies through her work with Dairy Farmers of America. 

Alexis Kwak is this year’s student Outstanding Senior. The Outstanding Senior is awarded for her years of leadership through AWA. Kwak will graduate with degrees in political science, international studies - global security, and Chinese.  Upon graduation, Kwak will be working in logistics and shipping with Viking Forest Products.  AWA has been home for Kwak during her time at Madison, and she has gained invaluable skills that will help her continue to advocate for agriculture in the future.

Julie Larson was awarded the Friend of AWA. Julie is a fantastic mentor to all who pass through the Association of Women in Agriculture. She always makes herself available to help answer questions and gives back to the student chapter in any way she can. She also played a key role in planning the 50th Anniversary Celebration of AWA. 

Anna Gudenkauf was awarded the Honored guest. Anna is a strong supporter of the Association of Women in Agriculture organization and always showers the student chapter with kindness through her cooking. She has made many meals and desserts for the AWA ladies to enjoy and is always willing to lend a helping hand.

Deb Wendorf Boyke was awarded the Outstanding Alumni. Throughout this past year, Deb took on the role of House Management Committee Co-Chair. She has helped bring numerous house upgrades to fruition and has been a great partner to our student house management team. We thank her for her dedication to both the alumni and student membership groups and look forward to her continued work.  

The six awards were presented at the organization’s AWA Day held on April 15th in Madison, Wis.



The Association of Women in Agriculture Benefit Corporation (AWABC) is an organization that supports the Association of Women in Agriculture (AWA) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. AWA is a 501c7 non-profit professional student organization at the University of Wisconsin-Madison housed in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The organization was founded in the spring of 1973 and now has a student membership of 80 young women. AWABC is comprised of more than 300 members who all share a passion for agriculture. For more information, visit