William C. Nichol of State College, Centre County, is the winner of the 2012 Obie Award, the top honor of the All-American Dairy Show. Agriculture Secretary George Greig will present the award at the show's "got milk?"® banquet on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.
The award was established in memory of Obie Snider of Bedford County, a founding father of the All-American Dairy Show. It recognizes an individual who places significant value in service to the industry and community and displays high standards of conduct.
"Bill has devoted his entire life to promoting agriculture, specifically the dairy industry," said Greig. "His service-oriented attitude has laid the foundation for many key dairy programs in the state, one of which is the All-American Dairy Show."
Nichol made his mark in the 38 years he spent as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Holstein Association, growing the program to the largest state association in the country that focused on membership service, shows, sales, educational activities, breed promotion, and encouraged the growth of the embryo transfer program. Along with his state board of directors, Nichol helped drive domestic and export cattle sales, opening many international markets that are still used today.
"Bill was a great mentor, and he had a vision far beyond what most imagined the Pennsylvania Holstein Association could be," said John Howard, the state agriculture department's chief legal counsel, a six-year Holstein association employee under Nichol. "He possessed the drive to make that vision a reality, and his unparalleled work ethic set the standard for those who served under his leadership."
An "idea man," Nichol was also instrumental in initiating the weekly dairy publication, Farmshine in 1979, revitalizing the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess Program in the late 1960's and developing the All-American Dairy Show.
Nichol fondly remembered how the idea for the show was hatched in 1960. He and good friend Obie Snider were returning from the National Dairy Show in Waterloo, Iowa, where the first Pennsylvania Holstein herd competed. During the long drive, they discussed the need for a national dairy show on the East Coast. They enlisted the help of several strong breed industry leaders who brought the show to fruition, and the show will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013.
Nichol and Snider also developed the concept of building an agricultural arena at Penn State to be used for local and statewide educational, promotional and service events. Since 1981, the on-campus Snider Ag Arena has been the site of many activities thanks to the benefit sale that raised $126,000 to fund the project.
Building youth programs has always been a priority for Nichol, by fostering the growth of the state junior Holstein Association, now the largest in the country. He also strongly supports the Premier National Junior Events.
"The addition of the national junior show has been a real plus in attracting young people to the All-American," he said.
A native of Marion Center, Indiana County, Nichol graduated with a degree in agriculture economics and rural sociology from Penn State and served two years as a United State Air Force Lieutenant. He then worked as a county agriculture agent in Cumberland County.
Active in the local community, Nichol belongs to the State College Presbyterian Church and Kiwanis Club of State College, and supports the State College Area Family YMCA and many Penn State alumni activities.
Along with wife Lilly, they have one daughter, Nancy who lives with her husband and three children in Doylestown, Bucks County.
Pleased with receiving the award named after his longtime friend, Nichol said, "It's quite an honor to be a part of this select group. This is a very special class of people."
The All-American Dairy Show boasts 23 dairy shows in six days with exhibitors vying for more than $200,000 in premiums. The week caps off with the 55th Pennsylvania Dairy Princess Pageant, Saturday, Sept. 22, at 5:30 p.m., at the Camp Hill Radisson Hotel.
For more information or to obtain show and contest rules, visit www.allamerican.state.pa.us