Penn State Ag Council honors agricultural leaders

November 03, 2010

University Park, Pa. -- Pennsylvania's secretary of agriculture, a college student from Carlisle and a statewide youth organization were honored when the Penn State Ag Council presented its 2010 Leadership Awards at the council's fall delegate meeting Oct. 28.

The awards are given annually in three categories to acknowledge individuals and groups in Pennsylvania's agricultural industries who innovate and inspire, said Mary Wirth, council executive director and director of college relations in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"By recognizing leaders who are proactive in tackling the challenges facing the state's food, fiber and renewable-energy industries, we want to encourage others to assume leadership roles in their organizations and communities," she said.

Recipients must demonstrate outstanding communication and advocacy skills; exhibit the highest levels of professionalism, performance and innovation; encourage personal development, partnerships, collaboration and respect; and serve as role models, mentors, diplomats and inspirations for others in the state. They receive a Penn State Nittany Lion statuette from the council, and their names are engraved on a permanent display on the University Park campus.

Following are this year's recipients:

-- Russell C. Redding, recipient of the Leadership Award, was confirmed as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture on Dec. 16, 2009. He previously served as executive deputy secretary for the department.

As agriculture secretary, he oversees the day-to-day management of the department, which is responsible for issues related to Pennsylvania's number-one industry. A member of the department's leadership team since 1995, Redding previously provided oversight and guidance to bureaus as a deputy secretary.

Redding also served Pennsylvania as the vocational student organization coordinator with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, where he provided leadership to the Pennsylvania FFA Association, and was a member of the Department of Labor and Industry's executive staff, helping shape policies to keep Pennsylvania businesses thriving while bolstering the state's workforce. In addition, he served as agricultural policy advisor and executive assistant to U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford.

Redding earned bachelor's and master's degrees in Agricultural and Extension Education from Penn State. In 2005, he was named an Outstanding Alumnus by the College of Agricultural Sciences.

-- Sarah Wickard, a Penn State senior majoring in animal sciences with a minor in agribusiness management, received the Youth Leadership Award. Upon graduation, she will begin working for AgChoice Farm Credit as a portfolio manager.

Wickard has served as a state FFA officer and as a Pennsylvania Alternate Dairy Princess. In these roles, she worked with many high school students to promote leadership and a positive image of agriculture.

She has presented more than 300 leadership workshops during her time as an FFA officer, and she has visited more than 40 classrooms as a member of the Pennsylvania Dairy Royalty. She is currently the president of the Dairy Science Club at Penn State and an officer in the Collegiate Farm Bureau.

Wickard has completed internships with the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Dow AgroSciences and AgChoice Farm Credit. A Carlisle native, she owns 15 head of cattle with her younger sister, Kerri.

-- The Pennsylvania FFA Association was recognized with the Leadership in Action Award for helping its members to develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of career pathways. Founded as the Future Farmers of America, the organization is also helping to develop future biologists, chemists, veterinarians, engineers and entrepreneurs.

Chartered in 1929 as a three-part agricultural education program, FFA focuses on a student's development as a leader and a professional, teaching students technical skills and knowledge, and providing them with hands-on learning experiences. The group's motto is "Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve."

Nationwide, there are more than 520,000 FFA members, aged 12-21, in 7,487 chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Pennsylvania members number more than 7,600 in 148 chapters. Accepting the award was Clifford Wallace, president of the Pennsylvania FFA Association.

The Penn State Agricultural Council is an independent association of more than 90 organizations that represent agricultural or related interests in Pennsylvania. Members include trade associations for various agricultural, forestry and food processing industries; commodity groups and cooperatives; media; organizations that provide products and services to the agribusiness community; government-related organizations; and related general interest groups.

The council advises Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and serves as an advocate for agricultural education to both legislative policy makers and agricultural leaders. For more information, contact Rhonda Demchak at 814-867-1816 or by e-mail at

  • Recipients of 2010 Leadership Awards from the Penn State Ag Council were (from left) Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, Penn State senior Animal Sciences major Sarah Wickard, and the Pennsylvania FFA Association, represented by President Clifford Wallace.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 09, 2015