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Harpster Named Penn State Animal Science Distinguished Alumnus

Posted: March 29, 2017

Harold W. Harpster, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Animal Science, will be honored during Little I/Dairy Expo Weekend.

Harold W. Harpster, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Animal Science, has been selected as the 2017 Animal Science Distinguished Alumnus by Penn State's Department of Animal Science and will be honored during the Little I/Dairy Expo weekend on April 7 and 8 at University Park, PA.

Harpster retired as a Professor of Animal Science in 2012 after a distinguished career at Penn State, beginning in 1973 as a research assistant. He received his B.S. in Animal Science from Penn State in 1971, his M.S. in Animal Nutrition from Penn State in 1973 and his Ph.D. in Ruminant Nutrition from Michigan State University in 1978 after which he returned to Penn State.

Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Animal Science, said, "It is a very special privilege to honor Harold for his outstanding service to Penn State, to the livestock industry, and to our students. He has been a tremendous asset, and has been both a motivator and an inspiration to many, many of our students, always encouraging them to achieve their best."

Harpster said, "It is very humbling and I am very appreciative and honored to receive the award. This means a lot to me. I am also appreciative of the Department for the opportunity it gave me; I have always been proud to work for the Department."

Harpster noted that he has attended every Little I since 1967, except for three shows when he was in graduate school at Michigan State. This means that he has been part of nearly half of the 100 that have been held! Active in the Block and Bridle Club as an undergraduate, he was president his senior year.  At the Little I, he showed an Angus heifer and a pig, and showed a dairy cow in the Dairy Expo. He was also a member of the meats and livestock judging teams. Harpster was dedicatee of the 1984 and 1992 Little International Livestock Expositions.

Harpster won numerous teaching and advising awards at the college and university level, including the Penn State University Teaching Fellow Award in 2006; the Community of Teaching Excellence Award, College of Ag Sciences, 2002; University Award for Innovative Teaching (Team Member), 1995; Outstanding Teacher Award Gamma Sigma Delta, Penn State Chapter, 1995; and, Excellence in Academic Advising Award College of Agriculture Alumni Society - 1992.

His teaching activities have included undergraduate courses in feeds and feeding, ruminant nutrition, companion animal nutrition, advanced canine nutrition, meat animal management, beef production, and sheep production and team teaching of a graduate research methods course. He initiated the very popular companion animal program in 1997.

Harpster was the Program Coordinator for the Animal Sciences major from 2006-2012 and advised the Block and Bridle Club for 13 years. He served as an officer of the National Block and Bridle Club for eight years, and has coached several national beef quiz bowl teams.   His service to the industry was recognized by his induction into the PA Livestock Hall of Fame in 2008. He continues to serve as the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Livestock Association. A dedicated Penn State's Stockmen's Club member, he has been a board member and served as secretary-treasurer and president, and received the Penn State Stockmen's Alumni Club Booster Award in 1981 and 1994. He served on the board of the American Society of Animal Science for three years and was secretary/treasurer and president of the Northeast Region of ASAS. 

His research in beef cattle nutrition and forage work has been widely published in professional journals. He has written a monthly livestock management column since 1982, initially for the Pennsylvania Farmer magazine and in more recent years for the American Agriculturist. He served on the editorial board of The Professional Animal Scientist for five years. Known as an enthusiastic and motivating speaker, he has been a frequent and popular presenter of educational programs to both producer groups and students.

He is author or co-author of 25 referred journal articles, five chapters in books or proceedings, and numerous abstracts.

Harpster and his wife Dawn, also a Penn State grad, have two children, Lisa and Matthew, both graduates of Penn State. They live on his family farm at Pennsylvania Furnace.