The Center for Dairy Excellence is fortunate to have nine individuals employed who are passionate about dairy and seeing dairy farm families thrive in Pennsylvania. Six employees are full-time, while three are part-time. Keep reading to learn more about each staff member!
Learn About Each Staff Member:
Jayne Sebright, Executive Director
Jayne has been with the Center since September 2006. She graduated with highest distinction from Penn State and has 20 years’ of experience in strategic marketing and communications, holding positions with Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association & Land O’Lakes. Jayne and her husband Robby have a dairy and crop farm in East Berlin.
Favorite dairy product: Milkshakes in the evening and cheese on everything
Her “why” moment: Click here to read why Jayne is so passionate about Pennsylvania dairy.
Melissa Anderson, Dairy Programs and Operations Manager
Melissa began her role with the Center in April 2012 and oversees the Center’s On-Farm programs and operations. She has an associate’s degree in business administration from Harrisburg Area Community College and brings more than 30 years of experience in office management and operations to her role.
Favorite dairy product: Cheese — trying different pairings and combinations
Her “why” moment: Like others in the dairy industry today, I did not grow up on a dairy farm. My grandparents and uncles all farmed, and I was able to learn from them how important agriculture and farming is to everyone. My fondest memories were spending time with my grandmother feeding the cows and calves and working on the farm. She was a strong woman who taught me the importance of a good work ethic and to take care of others. Managing the Center’s On-Farm Resource Program allows me to carry on what my grandmother instilled in me and to help other farm families continue to do what they love.
Emily Barge, Communications and Marketing Manager
Emily joined the Center in April 2019 and oversees the marketing and communications strategies. A Central Pennsylvania native, Emily graduated from Bloomsburg University with a bachelor’s degree in English. She brings 8+ years of experience in copywriting, digital communications, and web strategy to the role.
Favorite dairy product: Whipped cream, cream in my coffee, ice cream (and cheese, of course)
Her “why” moment: I didn’t grow up in the dairy industry, but I have a lot of memories of spending summers with my grandpa on his small family farm. Agriculture was always a big part of our family, and he was my first introduction to farming. He embodied all the traits I’ve grown to appreciate about the dairy industry: strong work ethic, loyalty to family, neighbors and community, and a passion for the land and animals they care for. As Communications & Marketing Manager, I love being able to capture the unique stories of dairy farmers across Pennsylvania and bring people together through our resources, events, and communication channels.
Zach Myers, Risk Education Manager
Zach began his role with the Center in December 2018. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from North Carolina State University as well as his master’s degree concentrating in dairy cattle nutrition and management from the Michigan State University. In addition, Myers has served on the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association board of directors, National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and the Dairy Management Inc. board of directors.
Favorite dairy product: A big glass of ice cold whole milk, but chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream is a close second.
His “why” moment: I was the third generation on my family’s dairy farm in North Carolina. During my teenage years, I developed a love for dairy farming that still exists today. After I finished college, my wife and I decided to move back to the family dairy, and I took over the management of the farm shortly after returning home in the early 2000s. One of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make was in early 2018 when my family decided that after nearly 70 years in dairy farming, it was time to stop milking cows. We sold the cows in the fall of 2018. Even though it was another tough decision, I was excited to move to Pennsylvania in December of 2018 to begin work as the risk education manager for the Center. As a former dairy farmer that used risk management, I know how difficult it is to navigate the options that are available to dairy farmers today. I am privileged to have a second career in the dairy industry helping Pennsylvanian dairy farmers navigate risk management options.
Karen Purnell, Accounting Manager
Karen joined the Center in 2011 and oversees daily accounting administration. Graduating from Shippensburg University with an accounting degree in 1988, Karen spent eight years working in the accounting industry. She grew up in Belleville, Pennsylvania, surrounded by dairy farms.
Favorite dairy product: Ice cream
Her “why” moment: My mother grew up on a dairy farm in Huntingdon County that was operated by family for several generations and was later transitioned to her brother. I have great memories visiting my grandmother and uncle on this farm. I learned the dedication the dairy industry has for their land, animals, family and community. I’m excited to give back to this industry by sharing my knowledge and appreciation with others and by supporting the dairy producers with funding opportunities as the Accounting Manager with the Center for Dairy Excellence.
Michelle Shearer, Workforce Development Manager
Michelle joined the Center in 2020 to oversee the on-farm internship program, apprenticeship development, and youth development for high school students through the Foundation’s Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow curriculum. With 25 years in public education as both a teacher and administrator, Michelle graduated from Bloomsburg University with a bachelor’s degree in secondary mathematics education and from Bucknell University with a master’s degree in educational administration. She has promoted the dairy industry since age 12 as a Jersey owner, dairy princess and dairy promotion committee chairperson.
Favorite dairy product: Black cherry Greek yogurt, chocolate milk, extra sharp cheddar cheese, mint cookies and cream ice cream, and swiss cheese
Her “why” moment: I lived on my grandparents’ farm from when I was born until a junior in high school. I saw firsthand the hard work and dedication it takes to raise crops and cattle. In high school, our family chose to purchase a small dairy farm to pursue our love for showing registered Jerseys and producing quality milk for cheese. While I pursued my passion for teaching and learning, I am excited to blend my passions for education and the dairy industry with the Center for Dairy Excellence and the Dairy Excellence Foundation as the Workforce Development Manager.
Brittany Snyder, Dairy Education Program Manager
Brittany joined the Center in 2018 and oversees the youth development programs and Discover Dairy curriculum for the Dairy Excellence Foundation. She graduated from Delaware Valley University with a bachelor’s in agribusiness management. Brittany is a native from Berks County and served as the first alternate dairy princess on the 2016-2017 Pennsylvania State Royalty Team.
Favorite dairy product: Homemade vanilla ice cream with fresh peaches from my family’s orchard
Her “why” moment: I can still feel the mud squish between my toes after a rainstorm while I walked to the pasture with my dad to get the cows in to be milked. And the best kind of water battle was on a hot summer day when I was the first one to claim the hose in the milkhouse after we were done working with our 4-H animals. I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to grow up on a dairy farm, truly gaining an appreciation for how hard our PA dairy farmers work day after day to provide us with a wholesome, healthy product. Our PA dairy farmers are my why; they are why I get up and do what I do. They deserve the world, so I’ll give them all I can give.
Katie Waite, Fund Development Coordinator
Katie joined the Dairy Excellence Foundation in November 2018 to oversee their fund development efforts. She graduated from Pennsylvania Highlands Community College with Associate’s degrees in business management and accounting. Katie has worked on local dairies since the age of 13 and served as a second alternate dairy princess on the 2016-2017 Pennsylvania State Royalty Team. She was a recipient of the Dairy Excellence Foundation’s Student Leader Scholarship and is thankful to give back to the organization that helped her so much during her college career.
Favorite dairy product: Ritchey’s Graham Cracker Crumb Cheesecake Ice Cream
Her “why” moment: Nearly a decade ago, I stepped into a milking parlor for the first time. Since then, spending time with cows and promoting the industry has been my stress relief, my happy place, and my passion. It is because of the people and farm families that have guided me along the way that I have been able to grow my love of the industry into a career and a life that I love. Working as the Fund Development Coordinator for the Dairy Excellence Foundation allows me to use my passion for the industry to be a part of inspiring the next generation of young dairy producers and professionals through raising funds for our dairy education programs.
Heidi Zimmerman, Events and Programs Coordinator
Heidi returned to the Center in March 2014 as the Dairy Resource Coordinator after having worked previously as the Program Manager. She currently serves as the Events and Programs Coordinator. Heidi grew up on a dairy farm in Dauphin County, graduated from Messiah College with a bachelor’s degree in music education and remains involved in various dairy organizations. She and her family reside in Lebanon County.
Favorite dairy product: Cheese
Her “why” moment: I was blessed to grow up on a dairy farm and always enjoyed the life we got to experience as kids. It’s a joy to get to work with dairy farm families, many of whom I’ve known for a long time along with plenty of new ones I’ve met throughout my years at the Center. The dairy industry has shaped me into who I am today and I’m grateful to be able to spend my days giving back and working in this industry with so many great people!