Passing the Torch: Interactive Transition Planning Workshop

Monday, November 20, 2023
8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Strock Enterprises, Inc.

729 Williams Grove Rd., Mechanicsburg, PA
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Directions >
Event Host:

Penn State Extension and Center for Dairy Excellence

We have reached full capacity for this event, and the workshop is now closed. *If you are interested in the workshop and would like to receive access to recordings of the speaker presentations along with a copy of the workbook, please email Emily at as soon as possible to be added to this list. We can also note if you would like to be added to the waiting list if a family cancels and can no longer attend the workshop. 

It’s never too early or too late to start thinking about “passing the torch” and finding someone in line to transition ownership of your dairy business. You and your family are invited to the “Passing the Torch” Interactive Transition Planning Workshop on November 20, 2023, hosted by Penn State Extension and the Center for Dairy Excellence.

Maybe your kids are only in high school or college, and you’re not ready to pass the torch quite yet. Remember, it can take years to successfully transition your business, so having one-on-one conversations now can help down the road when you’re ready to begin the process. Maybe you don’t have a family member interested in taking over your dairy enterprise. Remember, the “torch” can go to anyone and there are other options to consider when planning your transition. Maybe you’re just starting to think about retirement, or maybe you’re nearing retirement and haven’t thought about your succession plan at all. It’s not too late. No matter what stage you’re in, this interactive workshop will get everyone around the table for one-on-one coaching with facilitators, legal experts, accountants and more.

Learn about:

  • The overall transition process and key communication tips
  • The retirement planning process
  • The legal transition process
  • The accounting transition process

During the workshop, you’ll also participate in one-on-one, interactive family roundtable discussions that are led by outside advisors to keep the process moving in a productive way. You’ll walk away with a workbook and tangible next steps for taking action.

Registration is $25 total for TWO family members to attend and $5 for each additional family member. Your entire family is encouraged to attend. Space is limited – register below!

Sessions and Speakers:

“How Do We Talk About It?” with Dr. Charlie Gardner

Dr. Gardner grew up in southern New Jersey and worked on his uncle’s dairy farm. He attended the College of Agriculture at Cornell from 1967 –1969, then transferred to Veterinary College, and graduated from Veterinary School in 1973. He then joined the Ackermanville Veterinary Hospital, doing mainly dairy cattle practice. He stayed there until 1989, when he started Dairy Management Consultants, a practice specializing in dairy herd management. Dr. Gardner became board certified as a specialist in dairy practice in 1993, and received an MBA from Moravian College in May of 1999. He joined Agway in 1999, and was director of the Agway TSPF Heifer Program. In March of 2004 he joined Cargill Animal Nutrition, and worked with producers to improve animal and financial performance. He retired from Cargill in December of 2014, and has since worked part time as a farm consultant with the Center for Dairy Excellence.

“Understanding the Farm Transition Process” with Dr. Brian Reed

Brian Reed DVM, MBA has spent the last 36 years working with dairy farmers as a veterinarian. Since receiving his MBA degree in 2001, he has also been a dairy business consultant, assisting dairy families with strategic planning, profitability analysis and farm transition planning. Dr. Reed also currently utilizes Center for Dairy Excellence resources to assist farm families going through the farm transition process.

“Retirement Planning: What to Think About” with Samantha Gehrett and Paula Ledney

Samantha Gehrett is a Dairy Business Management Educator with Penn State Extension and is housed in Carlisle, PA. Her primary focus is to help dairy producers determine cost of production and develop farm business plans that help farms reach long-term goals and objectives. She brings experience in Accounting, Taxation, and Dairy Processing. This work is accomplished through on-farm visits, workshops and conferences and the development of tools and resources for producers and consultants.

Paula Ledney serves as an Education Program Associate / Financial Analyst in the Business, Energy, and Community Vitality Unit.  Her focus is assisting food, agriculture, and natural resources-based businesses with financial planning; record keeping; financial statement and ratio analysis; budgeting; business and enterprise analysis; and financial literacy and decision making.  Program work in these areas results in measurable improvements made by stakeholders in efficiency, growth, competitiveness, innovation and job creation.  She holds Bachelors Degrees in both Finance and Environmental Resource Management, and a Certificate in Financial Planning, all from Penn State.

“Legal Considerations for the Farm Transition Process” with Jennifer Wetzel

Jennifer Wetzel is dedicated to serving the legal needs of Pennsylvania’s farm and agri-business community. For the past 15 years, she has worked with all types of agricultural businesses across the state, advising them on a broad spectrum of legal issues. She is recognized for her in-depth knowledge of business succession planning, real estate and asset preservation within the agricultural law context. She has given presentations on these topics for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pennsylvania Farm Link, and Pennsylvania Bankers Association. Jennifer was appointed by Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding, to the Advisory Board for the Agricultural Business Development Center. She is a licensed title insurance agent and is a Succession Coordinator for the International Farm Transition Network and the Center for Dairy Excellence. Previously, she served as the Vice-Chairman of the Agricultural Law Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

“Accounting for Everyone: The Accounting Transition Process” with Tracy Garofalo

Tracy Garofalo has been serving the needs of farmers and small businesses for almost 20 years in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Tracy discovered her attention to detail and her natural accounting skills when she had her first accounting class in high school. Tracy went on to receive her BSBA and MBA from Shippensburg University, both of which majoring in Accounting. She spent five years as Controller of a private company specializing in professional fundraising for churches and non-profit organizations. She joined MSC Business Services in July 2005, where she earned the “Eagle” award for being the highest scoring staff person showing excellence in both her work ethics and ability to service clients. Over the course of 18 years, she held various positions within the company including Senior Account Supervisor and Regional Manager. In 2013, she passed and became an Enrolled Agent, which is the highest credential the Internal Revenue Service offers. In May of 2022, Tracy left MSC Business Services and opened her own accounting practice, Top Notch Accounting, Inc. where she is the President of the company.

In addition to these sessions, there will be a lunch and two family roundtable discussions throughout the day. During the roundtables, you and your family members will have one-on-one conversations with outside advisors who will keep the process moving in a productive way. 

We have reached full capacity for this event, and the workshop is now closed. If you are interested in the workshop and would like to receive access to recordings of the speaker presentations along with a copy of the workbook, please email Emily at as soon as possible to be added to this list. We can also note if you would like to be added to the waiting list if a family cancels and can no longer attend the workshop.