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Center Foundation focused on the future

Staff and members of both boards are pictured as follows - standing from left: Glenn Gorrell, Center board; Jayne Sebright, communications director; John Sigelow, Center board secretary; Melissa Anderson, operations and administration coordinator; Robert Schupper, Center board; Gary Heckman, Center board vice chair; Secretary of Agriculture George Greig; Erick Coolidge, Center board chair; Tim Kurtz, Center board; Don Risser, Center board; Rob Goodling, Center board; Jeff Harding, Foundation board. Seated from left are Alan Zepp, risk management coordinator; Karen Purnell, accounting coordinator; Emily Yeiser, dairy initiatives manager; Lolly Lesher, Foundation board; Carissa Westrick, Foundation board; and Paula Meabon, Foundation board. Missing from the photo are Center board members Dr. Brian Reed, Blair Yurkanin, and Pa. State Representative Mark Keller; Foundation board members Gary Heim, esquire; Gary Kline and Frank Day; as well as Betsy Albright of Harrisburg Dairies, who serves as treasurer of both the Center and the Foundation boards.
Photo by Sherry Bunting

Special for Farmshine

HARRISBURG, Pa. – “We are excited about the future … and our role in providing the resources and support for the next generation,” exclaimed Erie County dairywoman Paula Meabon. She serves as chairman of the board for the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania and was a key speaker at the Center for Dairy Excellence “partners” luncheon held here in the Farm Show Complex last Wednesday, December 11.

The Foundation’s flagship program is the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow (DLT), which now has over 600 students enrolled. (A related story about the DLT appeared on the PDMP page in the December 13 edition of Farmshine).

According to Meabon, the Foundation “seeks to empower and prepare the next generation of producers, leaders and entrepreneurs,” which means “giving of our time, our resources and our dollars.”

“We have come a long way since the Foundation was established in 2010, and we continue to see organizations, corporations and individuals step up and support the foundation,” said Meabon.

In fact, she issued a challenge from Evergreen Farms near Spruce Creek, Huntingdon County. “They will match any producer contribution in matching funds up to a total of $5000,” Meabon said as she issued this challenge to fellow dairy producers to support the work of the Foundation with their contributions.

She also highlighted the organizations and companies that have supported the Foundation as of November 30, 2013: Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, Pa. Dairy Stakeholders, the Hershey Company, Evergreen Farms, Cargill, Farm Credit Council, Prince Agri Products, Land O’ Lakes Foundation and Turner Dairy Farms.

In addition, she thanked the more than 30 individuals who have stepped up with financial support as well as the organizations and individuals who helped raise $5000 in February 2013 through donations and bids during the silent auction. The 2014 silent auction fundraiser is set for February 12 during the two-day 2014 Pa. Dairy Summit at the Penn Stater in State College, Pa.

“The Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania is committed to helping the next generation develop and pursue a lifelong passion in dairy,” Meabon stated, explaining that this commitment includes the scholarships, the dairy tours, and the full-fledged curriculum making its way into high schools across the state with over 600 students already enrolled.

“This is the legacy you are building on your dairy and for your industry … to develop the next generation into capable partners and employees to carry your business forward… and more broadly to have a strong capable next generation to carry our industry forward,” she concluded.

Also speaking at the luncheon was Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture George Greig. “I know I’m preaching to the choir, but it’s important to preach to the choir so they sing,” he said with a smile. He singled out Pennsylvania dairy princesses and FFA officers for praise in the way that they give of their time to represent farmers and to tell agriculture’s story and work on behalf of the industry in the public eye. He said that while the state has “a great future in dairy production, processing and distribution, we need more ‘PR’ and that means more of us stepping forward to tell our story.”

Teamwork, marketing, and the future were recurring themes during the luncheon. The “work session” featured a time of learning from two dairy producers – Skip Hardie of Walnut Ridge Dairy LLC, Lansing, New York and Mark Deiderichs of Lake Breeze Dairy LLC, Malone, Wisconsin – followed by “table work” as the 85 attendees brainstormed ideas to facilitate a growing and dynamic dairy industry in Pennsylvania. (See related story, which appeared in the December 13, 2013 edition of Farmshine.)

“It’s important that we all work as a team,” said Greig, explaining how the Department of Agriculture has made it a priority to work on exports and marketing. “One of first things we did under Governor Corbett is to pass the PA Preferred law to increase the use of Pennsylvania milk in Pennsylvania.”

He also talked about visiting other countries to find they are interested in purchasing Pennsylvania agricultural commodities because they cannot produce enough food to meet their own needs. Greig also highlighted the implementation of USDA’s farm to school program, which encourages the nutrition teams in schools to use local products and get students involved in local food production.

For more information about the separate work of the Center and the Foundation, Meabon urged attendees to spread the word and to visit the website at www.centerfordairyexcellence.org.