The Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association presented three leadership awards during the closing luncheon of the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit, held in Lancaster, Pa. The organization honored Erick Coolidge, Wellsboro, Pa., as the 2013 Charles E. Cowan Memorial Award recipient; Dr. Patricia Kitchen, Danville, Pa., as the 2013 Distinguished Dairy Woman recipient; and Dr. Douglas Beegle, with the Penn State Department of Agronomy, with the 2013 Extension Award.
The Dairymen's Association was initially formed in 1871 to promote the general welfare of the dairy foods industry in Pennsylvania. The organization has been presenting industry leadership awards for more than 50 years, with the first Extension Award presented in 1961. The Cowan Memorial Award was introduced in 1976, and the Distinguished Dairy Woman Award in 1995.
"The awards are intended to recognize those who have made significant contributions to Pennsylvania's dairy industry," said David Smith, executive director of the Dairymen's Association. "All three of this year's recipients have distinguished themselves in their leadership, service and ongoing commitment to dairy in the commonwealth."
Each year, the Charles E. Cowan Memorial Award is presented in honor of Charles Cowan, who served as secretary and treasurer of the Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association for many years. The recipient of the award must demonstrate superior management capabilities and provide outstanding leadership qualities within the dairy industry.
Erick Coolidge owns and operates Le-Ma-Re Farm in Wellsboro, Tioga County, with his son and wife. This fifth-generation "Century Farm" family has deep roots within the community. The Coolidge family has held the "Dairy of Distinction" recognition since 1990. In 2010, the farm was the recipient of "The Pride in Dairylea Award," given to three dairy farm families out of 3,000 members annually to recognize achievement of quality in agriculture.
Coolidge has served as the Tioga County commissioner for more than 17 years. He also holds leadership positions on the Tioga County Development Corporation and the Wellsboro Electric Company Board. Currently, he serves on the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania as vice chair of its Agriculture Committee and is Pennsylvania's agricultural representative on the National Association of Counties.
In 2003, Coolidge was appointed to the PA Dairy Task Force and is currently chair of the board of directors of the Center for Dairy Excellence. His passion for agriculture and dairy led to his 2010 appointment by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the U.S. Dairy Industry Advisory Council, which gave dairy farmers in the Northeast a voice in federal dairy policy decisions.
Coolidge serves on the State Conservation Board and has also been a leader in developing relationships between agriculture and the gas industry during the recent Marcellus shale boom in the northern tier of Pennsylvania.
The Distinguished Dairy Woman Award is presented annually to a dairywoman who has served the dairy industry. Dr. Patricia Kitchen has a multifaceted interest in the Pennsylvania dairy foods industry and has a strong interest in supporting Pennsylvania's dairy youth. She also provides support to her husband Randy at their Danville, Montour County, farm. Currently, they are raising dairy heifer replacements.
As a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, she practiced in large animal medicine for many years. Kitchen has been published in the Journal of Dairy Science, and she is currently the owner of a small animal veterinary hospital in the Danville area. She has served on the board of directors of the Montour-Delong Fair Association as well.
Kitchen has served as a 4-H leader for 29 years and on the Pennsylvania Holstein Association board of directors. She has chaired the state youth and planning committees for state Junior Conventions, and is presently serving as an adult adviser to the National Junior Holstein Activities Committee. Kitchen was recognized with the Pennsylvania Junior Holstein Association "PAL" award in 2011. In 1995, 2009, and 2012, the Montour County dairy bowl team has been Pennsylvania 4-H champions, and has won the NAILE National Competitions under her coaching. She also coached the winning team in the Junior Division of the National Holstein Convention in 2011.
The Extension Award is presented annually to an individual working in extension and serving Pennsylvania's dairy industry. Dr. Douglas Beegle contributes to the dairy industry through extension, research and teaching focusing in the areas of soil testing, agronomic crop recommendations, manure management and whole farm nutrient management.
In 2010, Beegle was recognized for his outstanding professional accomplishments and was promoted to his current position of distinguished professor of agronomy at Pennsylvania State University. Through his extension education programs, Beegle works with farmers, extension educators, members of the agriculture industry, state and federal technical staff, as well as state and federal regulatory staff and committees.
Throughout all of his education and outreach efforts, Beegle provides the consistent message that the best available science should be used to make recommendations that are practical and that can be implemented at the farm level.
Two cooperative research projects, "New Subsurface Application for Dry Poultry and Dairy Manures" and "Sustainable Cropping Systems for Dairy Farms in the Northeastern U.S.," highlight the importance that Beegle places on evaluating and developing farm management practices that are practical and that will provide Pennsylvania dairy farmers with options to maintain the sustainability of their operations.
For more information about the leadership awards or the Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association, contact David Smith, executive director, at 717-838-3283.