HERSHEY, Pa. — Pennsylvania Farm Bureau presented its 2012 Young Farmer and Rancher awards this week during its 62nd annual meeting in Hershey.
Joy Widerman of Adams County was the winner of the Achievement Award, which honors the farm couple or individual between the ages of 18 and 35 who have demonstrated outstanding farming and leadership achievements.
Widerman, who grew up on an Adams County dairy farm, joined the family partnership in 2003, where she assists with the day-to-day operation of the 1,000-head dairy facility. She makes all breeding and marketing decisions of the farm’s purebred herd and works closely with veterinarians and nutritionists.
“Joy is an example of a young person who will make a difference for the future of agriculture,” said Carl Shaffer, Farm Bureau president. “We need young, intelligent people who are able to adapt to changing conditions and create new innovations in order to stay viable in a very competitive industry.”
Widerman’s commitment to the farm has helped improve productivity from the dairy herd, as the cows now produce 27 million pounds of milk each year, up from 13 million pounds in 1998.
This year’s other finalists were Travis and Denise Hartranft, who operate an 80-cow dairy farm and grow crops on 154 acres in Tioga County, and Philip and Bethany Hershey, who own a 380,000 hen-laying operation in Lancaster County.
Jason and Sherisa Nailor of Cumberland County won the Excellence in Ag Award based on their overall involvement and leadership in agriculture and Farm Bureau.
Jason Nailor operates a 100-cow dairy operation in Mechanicsburg, where he manages the entire operation — milking, feeding, breeding, and caring for the cows and replacement heifers.
He has been able to nearly double the number of milking cows through breeding since taking over the farm about four years ago. He also grows 40 acres of corn and 25 acres of hay to feed his cows.
Meanwhile, Sherisa Nailor is an agriculture science teacher at Big Spring High School in Newville, where she has worked to grow curricular options and expand the high school’s FFA chapter.
During the past six years, enrollment in agriculture science classes has increased 35 percent, while the FFA membership at her school has nearly doubled.
The other finalist was Sarrah Biddle of Blair County, a dairy nutritionist and marketing manager for her family’s farm supply store and feed mill.
Cousins Lori and Candice Dotterer of Clinton County were the winners of the Social Media Video Contest.
They are part of a farm family that operates a dairy and crop operation, which was the focus of the award winning video.
Lori Dotterer oversees the feeding of dairy cows and helps with the crops, while Candice Dotterer oversees the health of the herd.
“A major theme of the video was to show how women are much more involved with everyday operations on farms, including the use of new technology involving farming equipment and vehicles,” Lori Dotterer said.
The other finalists were Julia Reyburn of Chester County and Keri Fabin of Indiana County.
Somerset County farmer Scott Rhoads won the Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet during the annual meeting.
He operates a 200-head beef operation, and grows grains and hay on 1,500 acres in partnership with his father. And he is a member of the Young Farmers and Ranchers state committee.
“Topics dealing with ethics, farm transitions and the future of farming are issues that I talk about at the dinner table, at farmers markets and other gathering places,” said Rhoads, who lives in Stoystown with his wife, Kim, and daughter, Olivia.
Meanwhile, Ryan Cochran and Hannah Wentworth, who are both from Lancaster County and students at Penn State University, won the Collegiate Farm Bureau Discussion Meet.