Patricia Hushon of Red Lion, York County, has been named the All-American Dairy Show Pioneer Award recipient. Agriculture Secretary George Greig presented the award at the show's "got milk?"® banquet on Monday, Sept. 9, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.
The Pioneer Award recognizes the work of an individual who initiates new ideas to improve the quality of the All-American Dairy Show.
"The All-American Dairy Show has been a staple on the show circuit for the past 50 years, and the addition of the Premier National Junior Events a decade ago has made it a national hub for dairy youth," said Greig. "Because of the vision and tenacity of Patti Hushon, thousands of dairy youth have had the opportunity to exhibit cattle, participate in educational and fun activities, and expand their leadership skills."
The All-American Dairy Show board envisioned a dairy youth event, with a focus on seven national breed shows and a supreme champion pageant separate from the open shows. They selected Hushon to develop a show for 2004. While the first show was canceled due to flooding from Hurricane Ivan, Hushon coordinated the inaugural event for September 2005.
As coordinator of the event, Hushon fundraises, organizes opening ceremonies and the supreme champion pageant, and secures judges, volunteers, photographers, announcers and check-in crews. She also coordinates outreach for the events.
Over the past decade, nearly 7,200 youth have exhibited more than 9,000 head in the Premier National Junior Shows. All told, more than 20,000 youth have participated in the shows, contests and activities during the event.
Since the beginning, Hushon's vision included recruiting a crew of young dairy leaders to help execute the show at the highest level of professionalism. Coining themselves "Team Patti," each year at least 20 college-aged and young adults have volunteered to help coordinate the shows and events. There are 30 on the team this year.
Hushon finds great satisfaction in providing the young leaders the opportunity to work in managerial roles at the national level. "Turning this event over to these young people is one of the most rewarding aspects of this job," she said.
She also relishes the excitement of the exhibitors as they participate in the different events advancing in the showmanship contest, enjoying fun activities like the pizza party and scavenger hunt, finding gift cards in their free lunches or winning supreme champion honors.
"I love interacting with the youth and have had the privilege to see many come as first-year juniors through to high school or college graduates," Hushon said. "It is gratifying to see them continue to embrace the dairy industry with such enthusiasm. The future of agriculture and the dairy industry is bright."
A Maryland native with a 20-year career as a mortician's assistant, Hushon came from a non-farm background and was introduced to farming in the early 1980's. Sons Joshua, Jacob and Joseph of Brothers Three Brown Swiss became involved in showing through 4-H. She was introduced to the All-American Dairy Show in 1991 when the boys qualified to show in the Pennsylvania Junior Dairy Show.
The family's All-American Dairy Show highlight was in 2002 when Jacob's heifer Brothers Three Wisper OCS was named Grand Champion of the junior and open shows, as well as the first ever youth-owned Supreme Champion.
"My sons were offered some great opportunities through the All-American, and because of that they all continued their education and are still involved in agriculture," Hushon added. "Jacob has gone on to become a national level judge and has placed five breeds in Harrisburg."
After 10 years, Hushon is retiring as the show's coordinator.
"It's been amazing to watch a brand new idea come to life as a direct result of this tremendous team effort I have had the privilege to lead," she said. "It is a reflection of the passion the All-American volunteers have for our nation's future agriculture leaders."
The All-American Dairy Show features 22 shows in six days in addition to the nation's only all-dairy antiques show. Last year's event saw nearly 2,500 animals and more than 900 exhibitors from across the nation.