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Pennsylvania Targeting Excellence Event Raises Over $48,000

Posted: October 24, 2017

Clay shooting event brings together agricultural students and industry leaders to network and raise funds for scholarships
Speakers at the Targeting Excellence event include: Front row -Butch Clemens and Alisha Sweitzer; Back row, from left - Steve Clemens; Aaron Ott, Tom Pastor, Bob Mikesell, Tom Clemens and Chris Hostetter

Speakers at the Targeting Excellence event include: Front row -Butch Clemens and Alisha Sweitzer; Back row, from left - Steve Clemens; Aaron Ott, Tom Pastor, Bob Mikesell, Tom Clemens and Chris Hostetter

Four years ago sporting clay enthusiasts and supporters of animal production held the first Targeting Excellence event in Pennsylvania. This year, Pennsylvania's event raised more than $48,000 through sponsorships pledged by businesses, associations and individuals, with the money being used for scholarships for students interested in careers in food animal production.

A valuable part of the program is the unique opportunity for students to interact with leaders in agriculture in an informal setting and learn about the host of career possibilities within the food animal production system

Twenty Penn State students participated in the day long event held at the Blue Ridge Sportsman Club and were part of the 173 attendees on 43 teams. Thirty-seven businesses supported the program.

Alysha Sweitzer, Wellsville, one of the students who participated, said, "Targeting Excellence is the perfect opportunity for students to network with a diverse group of industry leaders and professionals throughout our region. With representatives from all aspects of the animal agricultural industry, students have the ability to learn more about possible career opportunities. As a whole, this event is invaluable and the scholarship program has truly made a difference in helping students achieve the goal of earning a degree and to enable them to pursue a bright future in agriculture."

Devin Cunningham, Liverpool, concurred, saying, "I believe that the Targeting Excellence event is a unique opportunity for agriculture students to meet and network with major companies within the industry. There are few opportunities in which agriculturally-focused students can interact with possible future employers in a fun relaxed atmosphere."

The Targeting Excellence clay shooting event is held in the fall each year, with scholarship applications being accepted in the spring of the following year. In the first three years of the program nearly 60 students have benefitted from the scholarship program. Both undergraduates and graduate students are eligible for the scholarships, and the amount of money awarded each year is determined by what is earned through the event. 

The 2017 scholarship awards included a total of $184,000 to students pursuing degrees in food animal production, with Pennsylvania specifically awarding $45,000 to students either from Pennsylvania or attending schools in Pennsylvania. 

"Our students are fortunate and thankful to meet professionals from food animal production companies and supporting industries, and the industries benefit from meeting future employees and leaders. We appreciate the level of financial commitment from our sponsors," said Bob Mikesell, Undergraduate Coordinator of Penn State's Animal Science Department.

Tom Pastor, Pennsylvania Chair, said, "Targeting Excellence and its annual sporting clay events, now in seven states, has become a very well recognized non-profit scholarship program that benefits college students who want to be our future in food animal production. The founders' vision has since been adopted by many agri- businesses who fully understand the importance of education to keep the future of animal agriculture strong, Thank you to all sponsors, supporters and volunteers!"

A national program, Targeting Excellence unites agribusinesses, production systems, and institutions of higher education in a common cause - to ensure the world's food supply by supporting students through scholarships. In addition to sport clay events, funds for scholarships have been raised through annual contributions and other events organized to bring students together with leaders of agricultural businesses, production systems, and institutions of higher education to build personal relationships, exchange ideas, and improve communications.

Targeting Excellence unites agribusinesses, production systems, and institutions of higher education in a common cause - to ensure the world's food supply by supporting students through scholarships.

In addition to sport clay events, funds for scholarships are raised through annual contributions and other events organized to bring students together with leaders of agricultural businesses, production systems, and institutions of higher education to build personal relationships, exchange ideas, and improve communications. The program began in North Carolina and has expanded to seven states.

For more information on the program and for a complete list of sponsors, visit http://www.targetingexcellence.org/