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Kerry Kaylegian

Kerry Kaylegian, associate research professor in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, has been named the recipient of the 2019 Arthur W. Nesbitt Faculty Program Development Award.

Made possible by a gift from alumnus Arthur Nesbitt, this endowed award supports faculty research, teaching or extension activities in agribusiness, dairy science or food science. The Nesbitt Award was established in 2004; Kaylegian is a second-time award recipient.

As a member of the Penn State Extension Dairy Foods Program in the college’s Department of Food Science, Kaylegian provides technical support on manufacturing and food safety for dairy foods processors, including guidance to entrepreneurs interested in starting a value-added dairy processing business.

“The dairy industry is experiencing a financial crisis,” she said. “To remain viable, many farmers are investigating their options for on-farm processing to supply the growing demand for local and artisanal cheeses, ice creams and yogurts. Some small-scale dairy food processors are considering new product areas to expand their business and increase profitability. And they are looking to Penn State Extension for information on how to do that.”

For the past several years, Kaylegian, along with Ginger Fenton, extension dairy educator, and Sarah Cornelisse, senior extension associate, business management, have worked to meet those needs, leading to the creation of a Value-Added Dairy Working Group, under the Industrial Food Safety and Quality Extension Team, which is led by Catherine Cutter, professor of food science.

The Nesbitt Award will be used to advance the group’s work, with an emphasis on increasing cheese sales nationally, a goal that is a high point of the dairy industry.