Meet District 3 Director Bill Stakenas

Delegates in District 3 recently elected Bill Stakenas to serve a three-year term on the MMPA board of directors. MMPA’s District 3 covers eight counties in West Michigan, along the lakeshore of Lake Michigan. Stakenas joins the 12 other dairy farmers on the MMPA board of directors, helping guide the direction of the cooperative and set strategic goals.

Stakenas owns Stakenas Farm Inc in Free Soil, Michigan, along with Carl Stakenas. They milk around 550 cows and farm 1,500 acres. He is a member of the Muskegon Local in District 3. He and his wife, Terri, have four children: Hailee, Lyndsay, Kyle and Alec.

Prior to being elected to the MMPA board of directors, Stakenas has held various local and district leadership positions with MMPA since the 1980s. In the Muskegon Local, he is the current president and previously served as the local secretary/treasurer. Stakenas has also represented District 3 on the MMPA Resolutions and Advisory Committees. In addition to MMPA, Stakenas is active in Michigan Farm Bureau, local Soil Conservation District and Acres Cooperative. He has an associate’s degree from West Shore Community College and took an agriculture short course at Michigan State University.

How has MMPA impacted your farm?
Since our farm joined MMPA in the 1950s, we have had a positive appreciation for the service MMPA provides, including our field staff, the Messenger and all the meetings. Even through bad times, being part of the co-op helps you keep your chin up and feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself. Being part of the Local leadership, Advisory Committee and Resolutions Committee has helped me strengthen my skills as a manager of my own farm.

Why did you want to join the MMPA board of directors?
I have always been active in MMPA. I started as a Local board member and have been part of other committees. I went as far as I could go and so the board became the next step and has been a lifelong ambition of mine. The past board members have done a good job. I have big shoes to fill. I don’t think I will come in and change the world, but I will try to make a small impact.

What do you value most about MMPA?
I value being able to get involved in the co-op. I know that in some small way I have contributed to MMPA and the industry. That’s a value to me. Even if your impact is really, really small, it is something. You have to start somewhere.

What are your goals and vision while serving on the board of directors?
Survival. Not only for me as a farmer, but for the health of the co-op. In recent years, the board has done a good job diversifying our product mix, including taking on Heritage Ridge Creamery. I support what they’re doing, and I hope to continue going down that same road. We need to be aggressive in the face of challenges.

What would you tell your fellow members who want to influence the direction of the cooperative?
MMPA is cool in that it doesn’t matter if you milk 50 cows or milk 5,000 cows, if you choose to participate and have the mindset for it, you can make an impact. I encourage everyone to be involved. Some things we can change, some things we can’t change, but you need to be active to let your voice be heard. The world is run by people who show up.

This article was originally published in the May/June 2020 issue of the Milk MessengerSubscribe »