The Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, Center for Dairy Excellence and the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania joined together to recognize four individuals at the 2024 Pennsylvania Dairy Summit through an industry-wide awards program that showcases leadership, stewardship, and excellence in Pennsylvania’s dairy industry.

Jared Kurtz (left) and Timothy Kurtz (right) are the 2024 PA Distinguished Dairy Producer Award recipients.

Pennsylvania Distinguished Dairy Producer Award: Timothy and Jared Kurtz of Kurtland Farms in Elverson, PA

Kurtland Farms is a fourth-generation family dairy farm that is over 100 years old. Timothy Kurtz has been farming for 40 years, and his son, Jared, has been farming in partnership with him for the last 10 years. Located on a busy road in Chester County (and on the border of Berks County), they are always connecting with their community and contributing a favorable impression of dairy farming. Tim and Jared actively serve the Pennsylvania dairy industry through several leadership positions. Tim has served as a Land O’Lakes Region Delegate and a Board Member for American Dairy Association North East (ADANE) and the Center for Dairy Excellence. Jared is currently a Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania (PDMP) Board Member, and their farm received the Berks County Conservation District Farm of the Year Award.

The Kurtz family is progressive and driven by innovation, incorporating a robotic milking system several years ago. With multiple springs on their farm that serve as a headwater for the Conestoga River, they believe practical stewardship farming is important. To properly care for their land and the water on their farm, they are 100% no till and cover crop on the 275 acres they farm. They also installed stream bank fencing in all pastures, routinely inject manure (drag line and tank) on over 200 acres of the closest fields, partnered with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to plant over 350 trees in a Riparian Forest Buffer along a portion of the stream, utilize a manure solids separator to recycle manure solids as bedding, and installed a covered manure lagoon.

Tim and Jared are passionate about educating and conversing with the general public. From hosting in-person and virtual farm tours to “Breakfast on the Farm” events, they are familiar faces in their community. They regularly host training tours in partnership with the PA Academy for Animal Care & Control (human society police officer training and continued education). They have also participated in various “Fuel Up to Play 60” events with ADANE to promote dairy nutrition in schools. In the winter of 2023, they partnered with ADANE on this initiative when the Eagles were in the Super Bowl and named calves after Eagles’ players with custom calf jackets, leading to positive media impressions.

  • What makes your job so fulfilling? “We believe it is our role as a highly visible dairy farm in our community to be leaders in dairy promotion, education, and agricultural stewardship and husbandry. We have many eyes on our farm every day, so it is vital that we farm in the best ways possible with our land, animals, and neighbors all in mind.”
  • What is your philosophy for success? “We very much have an open door policy that allows for just about anyone to come and visit our operation at a moment’s notice. We believe we also are a dairy that isn’t afraid to utilize technology and try new and innovative things as we look toward our future.”
  • What’s your why? “Many things have changed over the years, but our family has stayed committed to the dairy and agriculture community despite the demographics changing around us. We enjoy the opportunity to farm within a changing community and display the benefits of a well-run dairy farm to those who do not come from an ag background.”

Dr. Hayley Springer is the 2024 PA Dairy Innovator.

Pennsylvania Dairy Innovator Award: Dr. Hayley Springer, Extension Veterinarian, Penn State Extension

Dr. Hayley Springer, Associate Clinical Professor Extension Veterinarian, at Penn State University provides science-based information at all levels to improve the dairy industry as well as to educate the public. Dr. Springer received her DVM from Iowa State University in 2010 and her MS in Biomedical Sciences in Physiology from Iowa State University in 2008. Her areas of expertise include Calf Health, Infectious Diseases of Livestock, Beef Quality Assurance (BQA), Antimicrobial Resistance, Pre-Harvest Food Safety and One Health. As a dairy innovator, she devotes a large portion of her time to educating beef and dairy producers across the Commonwealth.

She provides this type of producer education through presentations, publications, and other events across the industry through her role as an Extension veterinarian. Dr. Springer also completes field investigations to assist Pennsylvania veterinarians in addressing herd-level animal health issues across the state. For several years, Dr. Springer has played a key role in the Animal Care Workshops for dairy producers hosted by the Center for Dairy Excellence and partners. From educating producers on biosecurity to walking them through Antimicrobial Resistance, she has helped over 500 dairy producers better their operations. Dr. Springer also assists the Pennsylvania Beef Council in conducting BQA trainings that benefit both beef and dairy producers, and she has traveled across Pennsylvania to assist beef and dairy producers in understanding the changes in antibiotic purchases.

Dr. Springer is also passionate about educating the next generation of dairy and the general public. From STEM programming at the PA Calving Corner and youth programs such as the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow Exploration Experience at Penn State to a discussion with a physician’s group about antibiotic stewardship in animal agriculture, Dr. Springer’s dedication to educating others is unparalleled.

  • What makes your job so fulfilling? “I strive to be passionate, engaged, and helpful. I work to bring value to each encounter, and I would hope the dairy industry sees these values in me.”
  • What is your philosophy for success? “Collaboration. I believe the PA dairy industry brings together an incredible array of stakeholders, each with their own strengths. It is through teamwork and collaboration that we will make the industry as successful as possible.”
  • What’s your why? “The dairy industry delivers a wholesome and nutritious food product. The future of the industry will depend on continuing to strive for excellence and having an open mind to change. My “why” is to help others see the “why” behind changes that may be difficult, but are needed, for the future of the dairy industry.”

Dr. Brian Reed, Pennsylvania Dairy Service Award recipient.

Pennsylvania Dairy Service Award: Dr. Brian Reed, Agricultural Veterinary Associates

Dr. Brian Reed has been a dairy veterinarian with Agricultural Veterinary Associates, LLC since July 1987, shortly after graduating from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.  Since that time, he has served dairy farm families with veterinary services in the practice’s core coverage area of Lancaster, Lebanon, Berks and Dauphin counties. Since becoming an owner in 1989, Dr. Reed has helped grow and manage the practice and helped recruit, manage and develop talented and dedicated veterinarians serving the agricultural communities, particularly the dairy industry. After practicing for 10 years, Dr. Reed enrolled in the MBA Program at Lebanon Valley College, graduating with his MBA degree in 2001. Since that time, he has worked with well over 150 dairy farms on projects including renovations and expansions, feasibility studies, strategic business planning, helping young farmers get started, and many generational farm transition projects.

Within the state of Pennsylvania, Dr. Reed has been actively serving the dairy industry throughout his career. He was part of the original Dairy Task Force, founding treasurer (2004-2011) and board member for the Center for Dairy Excellence (2004-2015), and commissioner for the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission since 2007, serving as the vice-chair since 2014.  Dr. Reed has also served on the board of directors for Ephrata National Bank and its parent company since 2013.  Dr. Reed also works as a dairy farm consultant with the Center for Dairy Excellence to provide farm transition and transformation services to dairy farm families.

On the national level, Dr. Reed has represented Pennsylvania’s veterinary and dairy interests while serving the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP), the national organization for cattle veterinarians. He has served as Treasurer, Finance Chair and member of the Executive Committee from 2008-2013 and again from 2020 – present. He has been involved with the planning and implementation of USDA NIFA grants to teach early career veterinarians business management skills. He currently serves as the Project Director through AABP for “Building Excellence in Rural Veterinary Practices,” a comprehensive business management skills training program for early career veterinarians. The intention of this grant is to help address the nationwide shortage of large animal veterinarians by improving business management and retention of veterinarians in rural veterinary practices.

  • What makes your job so fulfilling? “With my clients in practice, I have always strived to serve them in whatever areas of need they may have at any given time. I try to share and offer assistance for whatever is burdening them.”
  • What is your philosophy for success? “I care deeply about my community/clients, their families, their animals and their success in business – however they define success.  I try to work with integrity and creativity in problem solving. I’m sure I’ve failed at this sometimes, but I’ll keep striving!”
  • What’s your why? “What drives me every day is the opportunity to work with hardworking and dedicated farm families, being invited onto their farms and into their homes, and to help them in their businesses and in their lives. I derive great satisfaction from helping others to achieve their personal and business goals.”

Amy Yeiser Leslie, Pennsylvania Dairy Service Award recipient.

Pennsylvania Dairy Service Award: Amy Yeiser Leslie, Director of Industry Relations, American Dairy Association North East

Amy Yeiser Leslie is the Director of Industry Relations for American Dairy Association North East and has been with them for nine years. Her impact and commitment to the dairy industry spans through a six-state territory, covering nearly 8,500 farms. Her responsibilities range from spokesperson training to key leader (producers and industry representative) outreach to youth development. She manages sponsorships and activities/programs with the PA Farm Show, the Calving Corner, PA Dairy Summit, Ag Progress Days, Maryland State Fair, PA Dairy Princess Program, All-American Dairy Show, and more.

Through her lifelong involvement and passion for the dairy industry —  which was sparked during her college years at The Pennsylvania State University and internship at the Center for Dairy Excellence — Amy has developed deep-rooted relationships with farmers and industry representatives. She constantly strives to boost dairy’s reputation with consumers on their behalf, always bringing positive energy to the room (or barn). In her role, Amy works to empower dairy farmers to be confident spokespersons and also works with young dairy advocates as they begin their journey in the dairy industry. She has been involved with the Calving Corner at the PA Farm Show since its first year in January 2018 along with other consumer-facing, dairy events throughout the Commonwealth.

Amy is well respected among her peers, colleagues, and the industry as a whole. As a loyal voice for PA dairy farmers, she has worked side by side with them to ensure their dollars are being put to good use.

  • What makes your job so fulfilling? “I strive to be a helpful, professional, enthusiastic supporter of dairy within the Commonwealth. I do my best to lend a helping hand by literally showing up to do the work, providing the right resources, or connecting folks with the right contact to move a project forward. I am proud of the network of farmers and colleagues – many I would now call friends – that I have built over my time in the industry. My favorite messages are along the lines of, “I don’t know if this is officially your job, but I know you can help me!’”
  • What is your philosophy for success? “I believe it is my duty to give back to an industry that has given me so much in terms of my livelihood and my passion. The Pennsylvania dairy industry has so much to provide to our customers, and I am proud to be a connecting force between our farmers and consumers.”
  • What’s your why? “Growing up a suburban ‘city kid,’ dairy farmers took a chance on me and never hesitated to answer all of my way too many questions. Dairy farmers care about the next generation of their animals, of their land, of our industry and of our consumers. I see my work as a small way of paying it forward to those future dairy enthusiasts and industry members as we work together to ensure dairy’s success and relevance in the marketplace.”