Penn State Ag Council presents leadership awards

December 17, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- A landscape contractor from Shillington, a college student from Lancaster, and a Penn State alumni group were the honorees when the Penn State Ag Council recently presented its 2008 Leadership Awards, given annually to individuals who provide direction in Pennsylvania's agricultural community.

The awards are intended to acknowledge the men and women who innovate and inspire in the state's agricultural industries, says Mary Wirth, council executive director and director of college relations for Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"The state's food and fiber industries face many challenges today, and the people doing the day-to-day work of leadership should be identified and held up as role models," she says. "The awards also can inspire others to take leadership positions within agriculture and the broader community."

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.

Tom Wambaugh, owner of Waterfall Gardens near Reading, was presented with the council's Leadership Award. Wambaugh has been a leader in instilling and promoting professionalism in the state and international landscape and nursery industry. He serves on the International Landscape Technician Council, assisting in a complete revamping of the landscape technician certification exam to make it more psychometrically reliable. He is the incoming chair of the organization's Authorization Panel Chair, which reviews certification tests conducted by the council.

Alex Lauffer, a Penn State senior from Narvon majoring in Agricultural and Extension Education, received the council's Youth Leadership Award. Lauffer serves as the vice president of Collegiate FFA and of Collegiate 4-H; co-vice president of Alpha Tau Alpha, the Agricultural and Extension Education honor society; chair of several committees in the college's Poultry Science Club, and Agricultural Student Council Ag Ball mentor. She also is affiliated with EARTH House, Gamma Sigma Delta agricultural honors society and the Coaly Society, which recognizes student leaders.

The Penn State School of Forest Resources Alumni Group received the council’s Leadership in Action Award. Alumni, faculty, students and staff of the school commemorated 100 years of forestry education at Penn State with a year-long celebration in 2007. The centerpiece of the centennial was a weekend of events that included a 100-year tree-planting ceremony, numerous campus tours and activities, a banquet at the Nittany Lion Inn, and a chapel service and brunch. Other centennial activities included the publication of "A Century of Forest Resources Education at Penn State," and a centennial tailgate. Every graduating class between 1947 and 1981 had at least one representative registered for the weekend.

The Penn State Agricultural Council is an independent association whose membership comprises more than 90 organizations that represent agricultural or related interests in Pennsylvania. They 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. Contact Rhonda Demchak at (814) 867-1816, or by e-mail at

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009