Harpster, Purcell, Etherton, Biehl Honored

CDEThe Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association, Center for Dairy Excellence and the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania joined together to launch an industry-wide awards program that recognizes and showcases leadership, stewardship, and excellence in Pennsylvania's dairy industry, through four awards presented at the 2016 Pennsylvania Dairy Summit in State College.

All applications received were reviewed by a committee comprised of two Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association board members, two Center for Dairy Excellence board members, two Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania board members and one representative from the Penn State Extension Dairy Team.

The four awards recognized through this program include:

  1. Pennsylvania Distinguished Dairy Producer Award – Recognizes dairy producers (either individual or farm enterprise) who have demonstrated superior management capabilities within their own dairy business and provide outstanding leadership and service to the dairy industry.

  2. Pennsylvania Distinguished Dairy Woman Award – Recognizes a dairy woman who has distinguished herself in her leadership and service to the dairy industry, both on the farm or to the broader industry.

  3. Pennsylvania Dairy Service Award – Recognizes an individual in the industry who has distinguished him or herself in serving the greater interest of Pennsylvania's dairy industry and its individual dairy farms.

  4. Pennsylvania Dairy Innovator Award – Recognizes an individual or business entity that has provided tremendous innovation to progress Pennsylvania's dairy industry toward a brighter future, either by advancing the marketplace or creating new opportunities for innovation on the dairy farm.

Wayne Harpster was awarded the Pennsylvania Distinguished Producer Award. He iwas described as a devoted conservationist and forward thinking leader, being a perfectionist about water quality and soil preservation.

Among peers, Harpster is an innovator and leader, working for the good of all and has served his community with great passion. Business customers and clients would say that he focuses on the important things, and small details are not skipped.

He started farming after serving in the U.S. Navy, starting with a mixed Guernsey-Holstein herd of just 17 head, which expanded into a new facility with a double 12 parlor to milk 250 cows. In 1992, he and his sons, Abe, Aaron, and Andrew made history at Evergreen Farms with a new facility for 1,600 cows and a double 40 parlor.

Today the farm milks 3,000 cows and farms 6,500 acres, employing 85 people. Harpster established one of PA's best dairy farms, and his family is following in his footsteps to protect and preserve the great natural resources of their land and the Spruce Creek as part of their legacy.

He has served as a leader in various organizations throughout the years, has consulted with U.S. Presidents, traveling the world promoting agriculture and dairy. He has an engaging personality, a twinkle in his eye, and always knows several good stories.

A past director of the Huntingdon County Holstein Club, he also serves of director and then president of the PA Holstein Association. In 1990, he chaired the state convention and secured former President Jimmy Carter as the banquet speaker. Harpster has also served as a Franklin Township Supervisor for more than 20 years.

The Pennsylvania Distinguished Dairy Woman Award was presented to Patricia (Patty) Purcell, who has dedicated more than 25 years of her professional career to serving dairy farmers throughout Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic region through her work in dairy promotion. For the past 12 years, she has held the position of CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association.

She began her dairy promotion career as the communication director for the former Middle Atlantic Milk Marketing Association (MAMMA), helping to launch successful advertising and marketing campaigns featuring former Baltimore Ravens baseball icon Cal Ripken Jr., the REAL seal, and "That Milk Thing". As acting general manager, she helped lead the merger of MAMMA with the Washington D.C., and Philadelphia Dairy Councils in 1998 to form what is now Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association.

Among the many successes Purcell has overseen as CEO are the New Look of School Milk and the Fuel Up to Play 60 programs. These programs have helped revitalize school milk by introducing plastic, single-serve bottles, expanding dairy offerings among students, and creating school breakfast programs that include milk, cheese and/or yogurt. She has also built dairy image initiatives to build consumer trust in dairy farming and dairy products, focusing on both traditional and social media communication.

More recently, she has been among a group of dairy leaders who have spearheaded a unique fresh milk program that is providing a sustainable supply of milk for families in need. Firmly in place at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg, the program in now on its way to being replicated at other Feeding Pennsylvania food banks across the Commonwealth in 2016.

She is a true friend of Pennsylvania's dairy industry and is among its distinguished dairy women leaders.

The Pennsylvania Dairy Service Award winner was Dr. Terry Etherton who currently works at Penn State University as the Animal Science Department Head. Etherton has been a champion for the dairy industry within the university. In 2000, he led efforts to create the Dairy Alliance initiative.

During the 10 years that the Dairy Alliance team developed educational programs and materials, he worked to ensure that producers' needs were being met and that faculty, staff and administrators were attuned to those needs. Following the recent transition from Dairy Alliance to the Penn State Extension Dairy Team, he continues to be vocal about the quality of services provided to producers, and has been a leader in encouraging collaboration between Penn State and allied industry.

He has been instrumental in maintaining a "full service" Animal Science Department, one of only a handful across the U.S. that still provides teaching, research, and extension across all species of animals. In addition to leadership in all that was mentioned, he meets with students, faculty, and industry leaders each year to ensure that a Penn State animal science education continually evolves, as Penn State is preparing future generations of dairy leaders.

Beyond the university, he has been a nationally and internationally recognized speaker. He has continually been an outspoken advocate for dairy producers in face-to-face presentations, as well as via blog that has tackled controversial topics like: "Udder Nonsense About Milk," "The Smoke and Mirrors of rBST-Free Milk Pricing," and "Did You Ever Wonder Where Your Milk Comes From?" His passion for bringing good scientific information to sometimes emotional debates is one of the hallmarks that distinguishes him as a leader and proponent for the dairy industry.

Etherton's personal life provides him a unique perspective on a relationship between industry and consumers. His wife, Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, is world renowned in the field of human nutrition. This provides him a broad, global view of how science impacts not only animals and producers, but how it ultimately benefits the end users of our products-consumers-through the food we eat.

Bradley Biehl was the winner of the Pennsylvania Dairy Innovator Award, being an accomplished engineer and business leader, who is interested in developing dairy technology that will allow dairy families to operate in a sustainable manner in the future.

Being both a dairyman and a business professional is why he was nominated for this award. He graduated from Penn State with a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering. This degree enabled him to hold various professional roles for 12 years in machinery engineering, maintenance management, project management and global strategic sourcing for a large international company in his area. This experience allowed him to bring this knowledge back to his home farm and incorporate it to create a dairy he can oversee while developing more applications that will make the dairy farmer's life less physically labor intensive.

AMS Galaxy USA and Biehl set themselves apart with the development of a Technical Service Center on his family's home farm. Through his experience of setting up their Corner View Farm robotic dairy, the process was seen through the eyes of a dairyman, creating the realization that education was key to a smooth transition.

The Technical Service Center incorporates classroom training, hands-on equipment training, and on-farm training with real cows; all of this BEFORE a client installs their own system. On a weekly basis, he is hosting tours of dairy producer from all across the United States.

Biehl is constantly exploring how the dairy industry and its daily mechanical systems can be automated; his mind and body are rarely quiet. He used his technical expertise to modernize the input and output of information and controls, so dairy producers can manage their automation opportunities. He wants his clients systems to be efficient and affordable, so precision dairy technologies can be within reach of more customers.

His passion and drive certainly help make the Pennsylvania dairy industry more "life-friendly" for the individual producer and their families.
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