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Each year, the Lakeland College Alumni Association Board of Directors identifies prominent alumni to recognize in various categories. This year, we had 34 nominees in five categories. Lakeland alumni are doing amazing things everywhere they go. This year, the awardees are:
The Honorary Alumni Award goes to someone who has performed service to Lakeland College, the church or the community, in areas of leadership, financial support or contribution of special skills. Vernon Wernecke's great great-grandfather, as well as his great-grandfather, both named Friedrich Reineking, were instrumental in the founding of Mission House in the late 1800s. Wernecke has a long association with Lakeland through his family (two uncles, two brothers and a sister all attended). He is also a major donor to Lakeland through his generous gift of four on-going scholarships for deserving students. When he graduated from high school in 1933 at the height of the Depression, he was not in a financial position to attend college. Due to his wonderful spirit of generosity over the years in helping young people realize their educational dreams, we are very pleased to award the 2010 Honorary Alumni Award to Vernon Wernecke H'10.
The Professional Achievement Award is given to individuals who have achieved national, state or regional recognition for outstanding achievement in his/her profession. This year, the award goes to two deserving alumni: Irv Kaage '73 and Barb Steinberg '73
Barb Steinberg was the first female police officer in the Borough of Paramus, N.J., and the 10th female officer in the state. In her 31 years in the police department, she has risen from police officer to the rank of lieutenant. She has received citations for numerous acts of valor including breaking up a car theft ring, arresting a dangerous prisoner escapee and negotiating a hostage situation. She has served as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and elder abuse and has had articles published on those topics. As platoon leader, she has 22 officers and four supervisors under her command. She encourages her officers to be of service to their community in even in the smallest quality-of-life issues. Her platoon has consistently been recognized as first in all aspects of police activities. Steinberg has a master's degree in arts and liberal studies at Ramapo College, and is working on her doctorate at Rutgers University. She teaches criminal justice at Bergen Community College.
Irv Kaage is president and co-owner of Transor Filter USA, Elk Grove, Ill. Transor serves the metalworking field by manufacturing its own patented oil filtration system. Transor has placed over 18,000 filtering units in over 30 countries. Kaage was the first person in his family to go to college. After graduation, he worked in the family's newspaper distribution business and then entered the manufacturing field, holding a number of different positions before joining Transor in 1984. He began as general manager with responsibility for North/South America and Asia, eventually becoming president of the company in 1981. He established a U.S. sales network and agents throughout Southeast Asia before establishing Transor Filter (Kunshan) outside of Shanghai, China, in 2008. He has personally travelled to 16 countries preaching the advantages of clean oil. Kaage is a frequent speaker at Society of Engineer (SME) seminars and trade exhibitions.
In addition to his professional career, Kaage has spent time supporting his church as Sunday school teacher, usher, deacon, Stephen minister and member of the EPLC Foundation, an organization that invests funds to insure the church's continued financial strength. He also supports Lakeland as a member of the 1862 Society and a cabinet member of the Sesquicentennial Campaign. Irv and his wife, Laurel, have been married for 36 years, and have three children and four grandchildren.
This award goes to an alumnus who has graduated within the last 10 years and has shown outstanding achievement in his or her profession, while also remaining connected to the college.
Lori Neurohr, a teacher at Kohler Elementary School, was named Wisconsin Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2008 and Wisconsin Teacher of the Year in 2009. She represented Wisconsin in the national teacher of the year program in 2008-09, attending a variety of networking and educational events around the country. Lori has developed results-driven curriculum and is committed to improving children's lives by setting high expectations and seeking out ways to improve instruction and link learning with fun. She has taught phonics instruction to primary classroom teachers and instructional aides and she frequently volunteers after school to lead one-on-one and small group tutoring, especially in reading. She earned a master's degree in reading/language arts in 2006, and is working on her doctorate in administrative leadership. Prior to teaching, she worked for several years as a mortgage banker, then enrolled at Lakeland full time as a non-traditional student to complete her degree.
This award goes to an alumnus of the college who has performed outstanding service to the college as a volunteer. Ed Michael grew up in an orphanage in Ohio, and served in the Armed Forces for 30 years. Following retirement, he attended Lakeland College and graduated with honors in 1995. He has done countless acts of community service with the Sheboygan Falls athletic department, including coaching baseball and assisting with video analysis with the football program. For the last four years, he has touched many lives at Lakeland with his jokes, stories and view on life as a volunteer assistant baseball coach with the Muskies. He has supported all Lakeland athletics, concentrating on academics success as a first priority. His positive personality touches everyone he has contact with and the life lessons he has taught the baseball players and athletic staff have been priceless.
This award goes to an alumnus of the college who has performed outstanding service as a volunteer in his/her community and/or civic organizations. David Michael was ordained in 1966 as a pastor in the United Church of Christ. He served pastorates throughout the Midwest before settling in Madison where he served as senior pastor of Lake Edge UCC from 1988 until his retirement at end of 2005. He has served on many boards and committees to support a variety of causes including the Madison-area Urban Ministry group, working on prisoner re-entry issues, housing and homeless concerns and hunger issues; Ecumenical Housing, Inc.; and the board of directors of The Road Home of Dane County (formerly The Interfaith Hospitality Network), which serves homeless families in the Madison area. He served on the capital campaign committee of the Road Home to raise $4 million for services to the homeless. Michael has been a member of the Board of Trustees of Lakeland College since 1972. He is former chair of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board, and he currently chairs the Trustees and Human Capital Committee and the Presidential Search Committee.