Wayne Harpster inducted into PHA Hall of Fame
CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- R. Wayne Harpster, whose ever-progressive leadership at his family’s Evergreen Farms has turned the property into one of the best known and largest dairy farms in the state, was inducted into the Pennsylvania Holstein Association Hall of Fame on Friday evening, March 1. He was one of two individuals to receive the honor this year, the other being Roy Simpson of Butler County. The presentations took place during the concluding banquet of the state association’s annual convention.
Accepting the award on his behalf was Wayne’s daughter, Heidi. Avid traveler and hunter that he is, Wayne could not be there in person. “As much as he would have liked to be here tonight, he’s in Argentina,” Heidi graciously explained. She is the next to youngest of Wayne and his wife Marjorie’s five children, the others being Christina, Abe, Aaron and Andrew. All three of the boys are following in Wayne’s footsteps.
The hard-working Huntingdon County farmer began his dairy career milking 17 cows - Guernseys and Holsteins. As he built his herd numbers he was milking cows in three different barns along the Spruce Creek and knew he needed to make a change. He built a new facility with a double 12 parlor to handle 250 cows. He believed in the value of identification and record keeping and has encouraged the upkeep of identification and production testing as the herd has grown. As he milked more cows and cropped more acres Evergreen Farms became one of the first farms in Pennsylvania to go completely to no-till cropping.
With his sons Abe, Aaron and Andrew showing strong interest and capability, they embarked on a building project that reached fruition in 1992. They completed a facility for 1600 cows and including a double-40 parlor. The entire project was highly publicized and followed by dairy industry watchers from all over the world. With the opening of the new facility Evergreen Farms Inc. was formed.
Today the Evergreen Farms operation milks 2800 cows and farms 5500 acres with over 80 employees. Wayne's foresight has allowed his family the opportunity to succeed in the dairy industry.
Wayne has stepped back from the day to day operations but still has an influence and presence on the farm. He still enjoys cropping operations and has rebuilt a lot of fence and stream banks along Spruce Creek as well as a number of bridges around the farm for cattle and equipment to use.
Wayne is a firm believer in giving back and as such has been very involved in many agricultural organizations. He served on the board of directors and as president of the Huntingdon County Holstein Club and is still an honorary board member of their club. Wayne served on a number of standing committees, the Executive Committee, as vice-president and president of the Pennsylvania Holstein Association. During his presidency he hosted the first two statewide Holstein picnics, one at the covered bridge on the farm and one at the open house for their new facility, with over 2000 people in attendance.
Wayne also put in place Huntingdon County’s cheese sale program, which continues today as a fund raiser for the local club. He also served as the banquet chairman of the 1990 state convention and secured President Jimmy Carter as banquet speaker.
Wayne was the buyer of the top selling cow at the 1978 State Convention Sale in State College. The sale was the first ballroom sale conducted by PHA. The cow was Mil-Ber Chief Gene Ruth, who went on to score EX-94 for Wayne. Evergreen Farm participated as buyers and sellers at numerous county and regional sales for many years.
Wayne also served as a delegate to national Holstein conventions and served on a couple special committees for Holstein USA. Further, Evergreen Farms’ Holsteins were a pilot herd for ear tag and RFID tag identification for Holstein USA.
Wayne served on the county and state board of Pennsylvania DHIA and as a member and director of the Pennsylvania Forage & Grassland Council. Dairy promotion has benefited from his generosity, as Evergreen Farms has hosted numerous school groups for tours.
Wayne has been honored with many awards for his service to agriculture including: Master Farmer Award, Distinguished Grasslander Award, Charles E. Cowan Award, Grassland Farmer of the Year, Dairy of Distinction Award and FFA Honorary Keystone Farmer.
Wayne’s strong and tireless work ethic has been evident ever since he was a student and athlete. He never missed playing an inning of varsity baseball during his four years at Tyrone High School.
He was very active in the FFA chapter at Tyrone and went on to earn his Keystone Farmer and American Farmer degrees. Following graduation in 1955, Wayne served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Coral Sea.
Close to home, Wayne served as a township supervisor for 34 years, just recently retiring from that position.
Wayne's other passion besides his love of farming is fishing and hunting. He has had the opportunity to travel all over the world to enjoy his passion and still believes the best fishing is in his own back yard, Spruce Creek.
He has worked hard for over 50 years to maintain and upgrade the stream and leave it a lot better for future generations to enjoy. To that end he has hosted the "On the Fly" charity fishing event for 16 years, the "Family Tyes" fishing program and "Wayne's Cold Water Kids" fishing program. All these programs allow young people to learn to fish. The Harpsters have also hosted numerous fund raising events for worthy groups and organizations as well.
Through his involvement in fishing he has had the opportunity to meet and fish with Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter. He has had the opportunity to travel with President Carter and help spread modern agricultural practices around the world.
Wayne was recently honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of Tyrone Area High School and he also is an over 50-year member of both the Ancient Gastronomical Order of Rattling Reptiles and the Tyrone Fishing Club.
The Pennsylvania Holstein Association is pleased and proud to include R. Wayne Harpster in their Hall of Fame.