Kutztown Rotary Club celebrated both farmers and agriculture as a necessary profession in the community.
The club hosted Farmer’s Night at the Kutztown Grange on Feb. 5, featuring guest speaker Barbara Christ, and serving dinner to 115 people who attended the event.
“The purpose of this event is to honor farming as an honorable profession in our community,” said Kutztown Rotarian Bob Hobaugh.
Kutztown Rotary Club has been hosting this event since 1938.
“What we do is honor profession, the profession of the farmers,” said Hobaugh. “This is vocational service,” he said. “And we want to recognize the community of farmers that one; is the biggest economic group in our community and in our state, and number two; is a group of people who’s very prevalent in our community. You can’t turn around without seeing a farm. So we want to honor them and say thank you for all you do.”
“I hope that the attendees understand two things,” said Hobaugh. “I think they should understand how important farming is to our community and our economy, but they should also understand that rotary is an organization that serves vocation and that we’re a major part of the community, too.”
Kutztown Rotarian Steve Henning also hopes the attendees gain perspective at the event. “A realization that each farmer respects where the other one is coming from; the Rotarian’s respect for farmers and the farmer’s respect for Rotarians, and that we work together to help the community,” said Henning.
Students from Future Farmer’s of America (FFA) were also invited to the dinner. Cody Wessner, a senior at Brandywine Heights Area High School, expressed his enjoyment of listening to the speaker.
“I learned that agriculture is a big part of Pennsylvania and there’s a lot of different things you can get into with agriculture and farming.”
Many farmers from different areas were also present. Karen Boyd, a dairy farmer from the Mertztown area, appreciated the event being held to support farming and agriculture.
“This event is wonderful to bring the farmers together and a night out, and just to talk to the people who aren’t farmers,” she said. “Like our speaker said, it is very important to educate the people about where their food comes from.”
“It’s a wonderful thing because mostly all the farmers can get together and share their good times and their bad times,” said Boyd. “Sometimes on the farm you have a bad day and you think you’re the only one who’s had bad luck. But then you talk to other farmers and you realize that everyone else has problems, too. So it’s nice to get together and compare notes.”
Also in attendance were Fleetwood Rotary Club members, farmers and guests.
Barbara Christ, Interim Dean of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State University, was the guest speaker who was invited to the event. In her speech, she emphasized the importance of agriculture.
“A message that I want especially for them to hear is the importance of agriculture and the program of the FFA regardless of what avenue they take for their career,” said the professor of plant pathology. “The fact that they come to a program like that and have knowledge of agriculture is so vital for this country.”
Christ grew in a rural area outside of Kutztown on her grandfather’s farm. “I would say that all of about 17 or 18 years of my life has been spent either in a rural area or on a farm,” she said. She currently lives on a small farm.
Now, she is the interim dean of the College of Agriculture Sciences at Penn State University. She describes herself as the second voice of agriculture for the state besides the secretary of agriculture.
“He’s got his role, I’ve got my role, but we both collectively are the voices of agriculture for the state.”
For about 27 years, Christ focused on the area of potatoes for Pennsylvania. She worked a lot on how to alleviate disease problems with the potatoes.
According to Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences website, http://agsci.psu.edu/directory/ebf, she previously dedicated her time as a research assistant in the plant pathology department of the University of Minnesota, and has served as president of the American Phytopathological Society.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “I’m passionate about agriculture and I view agriculture as a way of life. It’s not a job title, it’s a way of life and it’s a passion that most of us have.”