Jordan Kennedy of Butler County, Pa., shows his Brown Swiss cow at the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pa. Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Ahh, the Keystone State. Home of the Liberty Bell, the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil and Hershey's Chocolate World.

Some of the greatest sports teams in history also hail from PA -- the Pittsburgh Steelers with six Super Bowl victories; the Philadelphia Phillies, champions of the 2009 World Series; and the holders of the NHL Stanley Cup, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

To add to the long list of things Pennsylvania inhabitants can take pride in, agriculture soars to the top of that list, being the commonwealth's number one industry. Pennsylvania's dairy sector, one of the fastest growing and largest sectors of PA agriculture, ranks fifth in the nation for milk production and fourth for number of dairy cows with a total of 549,000 (as of 2008).

Two of the nation's finest institutes for agricultural education are also located in Pennsylvania. Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa., offers undergraduate degrees in agribusiness, animal science and dairy science, as well as an MBA program in food and agribusiness. DelVal's Dairy Society, a club for any students interested in dairy, hosts many activities throughout the year, including a spring judging contest, the Green and Gold Spectacular Consignment Sale, and an annual cheese sale.

A similar organization is Penn State's Dairy Science Club, one of the many offered in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. The PSU Dairy Science Club took home many awards, including Outstanding Chapter for the third consecutive year, at the 2009 American Dairy Science Association-American Society of Animal Science annual meetings in Montreal, Quebec. Penn State offers a variety of agricultural majors and minors to undergraduates in addition to the host of graduate programs.

For the Pennsylvania residents not yet old enough to head off to college, there are plenty of youth activities and organizations for them to get involved in the dairy industry. Two strong state junior programs (of seven national breed organizations) include the Pennsylvania Junior Holstein Association and the Pennsylvania Junior Guernsey Breeders Association.

And for youth interested in dairy promotion, there is Pennsylvania Dairy Princess and Promotion Services, Inc. Many young ladies across the commonwealth spend their free time promoting dairy products as dairy maids, ambassadors and county princesses and alternate princesses, and each year, three ladies spend 365 days representing the Pennsylvania dairy industry as the state princess and alternates. This program is backed by a number of dairy organizations, but especially by the Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program, the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and Allied Milk Producers.

Many dairy youth also participate in 4-H and FFA, where activities include dairy judging, speech contests, quiz bowl competitions, and fitting and showing cattle. In fact, Harrisburg, Pa., hosts many state and national dairy shows throughout the year, including the Pennsylvania Junior Dairy Show, the All-American Dairy Show, the Premier National Junior Show, and the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

And it's not just the youth who get to enjoy these shows. Hundreds of dairy producers come to these events each year to exhibit cattle, network with one another and discuss industry issues.

Many adults are active in Pennsylvania breed organizations, as well as industry groups that host seminars, workshops and meetings to help producers become more efficient in operating their dairies and more knowledgeable about the challenges and opportunities in dairy today. Such groups include the Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association, Penn State Dairy Alliance, Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Dairy Stakeholders and the Center for Dairy Excellence. All of these organizations are committed to the future of Pennsylvania's dairy industry.

Need further proof that Pennsylvania is prides itself on its dairy industry? Read about this open house in July 2009 or this field night held that same month that attracted 700 producers to a Lebanon dairy farm.

Despite the challenges facing the dairy industry, Pennsylvania dairy producers, like many agriculturalists throughout the nation, continue to work hard to provide a safe and affordable food supply. Pennsylvania dairy farmers are and always will be Proud to Dairy.

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Comment by Kelsey Holter on October 23, 2009 at 9:47am
I pretty much love all the things mentioned! The Steelers, Phil, the Liberty Bell, and Hershey ;) And of course everything Dairy :) I really enjoyed this! Thank you Emily!

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