Don Nicholson was born in 1934 and was raised on a fourth generation Jersey dairy farm located near Bois D’Arc in southwest Missouri.
The farm, homesteaded in 1842, is still in the Nicholson family. Don, as its owner, has registered it as a Missouri Century Farm and proudly and prominently displays the official Century Farm sign.
He graduated from Ash Grove High School in 1952.
Don served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War and received two meritorious promotions while serving in the Far East. Sgt. Nicholson was honorably discharged in 1955.
Following military service Don enrolled in the College of Agriculture at the University of Missouri and received a bachelor’s degree in 1958. He continued his studies at MU until going to work for Fred Shipley at the St. Louis Milk Market Administrator’s Office in 1960.
While at work he completed his masters degree in agricultural economics in 1961. His graduate adviser at MU was Prof. Stephen F. Whitted who trained many students who have had a profound and positive impact in the dairy marketing field.
His masters thesis was titled “An Economic Evaluation of the Grade A Milk Utilization in Missouri, 1950 through 1959.” The first sentence of his thesis is to this day indicative of problems facing Missouri dairy farmers.
Don wrote, “The proper management and handling of milk which is in excess of fluid needs is necessary for the welfare of our society.”
From September 1961 to October 1965 Don was an economist with the New York/New Jersey federal milk order office in New York City. During this time he completed a doctorate in marketing and business management from Cornell University in 1965.
Don has made many moves in his 43-year career in milk marketing including the following.
From October 1965 through 1966 he was assistant market administrator in St. Louis.
From January 1967 to November 1968 Don was the director of the New Jersey Milk Control Program in Trenton, NJ.
From December 1968 to August 1970 Don was director, producer relations and dairy economist with the Borden Company in New York City.
From August 1970 until August 1975 Don was the assistant market administrator in St. Louis.
Don was appointed market administrator in August 1975 for the four federal milk orders administered from St. Louis.
In January 1994 he was appointed market administrator for the five federal milk orders administered from Tulsa.
And, in January 2000 he was appointed market administrator of the central federal order in Lenexa, Kans., which, under federal order reform, consolidated nine federal orders.
Don was nominated to receive the Dairy Hall of Honors Meritorious Service Award by the Missouri Dairy Products Association.
Don became a member of Alpha Zeta and Gamma Sigma Delta, undergraduate and graduate honorary agricultural societies, while a student at MU. He is also a member of the Sierra Club and National Riflemen’s Association.
Two of his favorite organizations of which he is a member are the International Association of Connoisseurs of Red and Green Chiles and the American Gourd Society.
At this point of his 43year career in milk marketing, Don looks forward to those weekends that he can spend at the Nicholson farm in southwest Missouri.