June, 2021


This history is intended to update the rich and varied story of the Department of Animal Science. The first history was published as a written document in 2003, including the Department's origins in 1887 when Dr. Henry Armsby arrived at Penn State as the Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.

This current initiative was undertaken to record the many events, changes and achievements that occurred since 2003. Dr. Terry Etherton was head of the Department of Dairy and Animal Science (now Department of Animal Science) throughout the years of this update. He stepped down as Head of the Department in November 2020 and retired from the faculty on June 30, 2021. Much of the material discussed in the History Update was gleaned from annual reports and news releases, as well as from personal recollections of many historic and notable accomplishments over those years.

Sally Brown Bair, who has helped communicate much of the Department's news for nearly 14 of those years, assisted with editing text. Sally is a 1966 graduate of Penn State with a major in journalism and was closely involved with the Department as an undergraduate.

Much gratitude is expressed to all those who contributed - in ways large and small - to the gathering of the information used for this history update; and, indeed, to making the Department the vibrant academic unit that it is, excelling in its mission to conduct high quality research and prepare and educate leaders in agriculture and other endeavors that benefit society.

The Department's enduring legacy reflects well on the original intent of the Land Grant university system and will continue to have a lasting impact.

Terry D. Etherton, Ph.D.

About Dr. Terry Etherton

Distinguished Professor of Animal Nutrition

image001.jpgDr. Etherton received his B.S. degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Illinois in 1971 and was awarded the M.S. degree in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1974. He received his Ph.D. degree in Animal Science from the University of Minnesota in 1978. Dr. Etherton was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University (1978 to 1979). In February 1979, Dr. Etherton joined the faculty in the Department of Dairy and Animal Science (as of July 1, 2012 the Department of Animal Science) at The Pennsylvania State University. On May 1, 1998 he assumed the position of Department Head and stepped down from this position on November 2, 2020. He retired on June 30, 2021.

Dr. Etherton is internationally recognized for his research in the area of endocrine regulation of animal growth and nutrient metabolism. Dr. Etherton is most noted for his research that was the first to establish that administration of recombinantly-derived porcine growth hormone (pGH) to growing pigs improved growth rate, increased muscle mass and decreased body fat. Dr. Etherton is a leading authority on the need for and role of agricultural biotechnology in the global food system. He has published more than 115 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and presented more than 190 invited seminars.

Dr. Etherton was an invited Visiting Fellow of The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinshaft at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany in 1984 (May-June). He has served as Section Editor of Growth and Developmental Biology for the Journal of Animal Science and as Editor of Current Concepts of Animal Growth IV. In addition, Dr. Etherton was the recipient of the Young Scientist Award from the Northeast Section of ASDA/ASAS in 1986. Dr. Etherton was awarded the Gamma Sigma Delta award for outstanding research by the College of Agriculture in 1988. In 1990, Dr. Etherton received the Hoffmann-LaRoche Animal Growth and Development Award from the American Society of Animal Science in recognition of his research accomplishments. Dr. Etherton is the recipient of Penn State's highest honor for excellence in research, The University Faculty Scholar Medal in Life and Health Sciences (1991). In 1993, Dr. Etherton received the Alex and Jessie C. Black Award for Excellence in Research from the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State. He is the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Service Award from the Northeast regional branch of the American Society of Animal Science/American Dairy Science Association (ASAS/ADSA). In recognition of his scholarly accomplishments, he was awarded the title Distinguished Professor in 1996. Dr. Etherton served as President of the American Society of Animal Science (2003 to 2004) and President of the Federation of Animal Science Societies (2005 to 2006).

Dr. Etherton's contributions to students, alumni and stakeholders in the Commonwealth have been widely recognized. He received the 87th Little International Dedicatee by the Penn State Block & Bridle Club (2004) and the Service Award from the Penn State Dairymen's Club (2004). In 2008, the Penn State Stockmen's Club bestowed the Booster Award on Dr. Etherton and in 2016 Dr. Etherton received the Dairy Service Award from the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania and the Center for Dairy Excellence, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

The Creation of the Department of Animal Science in 2012

Merging the Department of Dairy and Animal Science and the Department of Poultry Science

In 2010, the Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, Bruce McPheron, announced to the College Leadership Team and to the faculty and staff that the College needed to be re-structured by reducing the number of academic departments. To launch this initiative, named "Ag Futures", the Dean created a task force, hired a consultant, and issued a press release noting that: "A restructuring of academic departments and extension programs now under way in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences will expand opportunities for students, take advantage of synergies among disciplines and position the college to better address current and emerging societal issues." There were many who thought the process was unnecessary and would not result in any tangible financial benefits to the College, since it represented a downsizing of the number of departments without a concomitant reduction in personnel. Moreover, it was going to involve an expenditure of a lot of time and money. Despite the misgivings expressed by many, the Ag Futures initiative moved forward.

As part of the initiative, six teams of college faculty and administrators were formed to develop independent proposals that presented their vision of how the college's academic departments might be consolidated. The plan was that these six proposals would be used to prepare a preliminary draft plan, with the understanding that Dean McPheron would work to finalize the plan. He commented: "Our primary goal is to strengthen our academic programs while becoming a more agile organization that can respond quickly to emerging issues and trends. To accomplish this, we likely will combine and refocus departments that house similar disciplines and share similar missions."

The final plan that was approved by university leadership in Old Main and implemented on July 1, 2012 decreased the number of academic departments from 12 to nine. The academic departments that existed prior to and after the reorganization are:

Academic Units Prior to July 1, 2012

  • Agricultural & Biological Engineering
  • Agricultural & Extension Education
  • Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology
  • Crop & Soil Sciences
  • Dairy and Animal Science
  • Entomology
  • Food Science
  • Horticulture
  • Plant Pathology
  • Poultry Science
  • School of Forest Resources
  • Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Academic Units After July 1, 2012

  • Agricultural & Biological Engineering
  • Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education
  • Animal Science
  • Ecosystem Science and Management
  • Entomology
  • Food Science
  • Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
  • Plant Science
  • Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

As part of Ag Futures, the Department of Poultry Science was merged with the Department of Dairy and Animal Science to form a new Department of Animal Science, with Dean McPheron announcing that Terry Etherton would assume the position of Head of the department.

The transition from the two academic departments to one was seamless. One reason for this was that the two faculties had partnered closely in overseeing our undergraduate Animal Science major since 1999, when the Dairy and Animal Science major and the Poultry Technology and Management major were merged, and the graduate programs of our two departments had been combined since 1978. Secondly, the hard work and dedication of many colleagues in the two departments and their willingness to accept the merger in a constructive manner facilitated the process. In contrast, some of the other newly merged departments did not fare as well in this regard. Dr. Robert Elkin who was Department Head of Poultry Science, is to be acknowledged for his tireless and selfless contributions that were tremendously important for the success of the merger.

As we fast forward nine years to 2021, the new department is thriving. The merger has resulted in closer collaborations and the deep belief that we are one of the elite departments among our peers in the country.

Construction Projects

Dairy Farm

In the early 2010's the Penn State Office of the Physical Plant (OPP) presented the idea that a manure digester should be built at the Penn State Dairy Farm. The University was enthused about the digester contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases on campus, and the production of semi-odorless product that retains nutrients and could be field applied on University farmland. The benefit of reducing odor caused by land application of manure was important because over the years some residents of the State College community have expressed concern about manure odor. Colleagues in the Department were not wildly enthused about the need for a digester because the manure management plan at the time was working well and managing a digester would add to the workload at the Dairy Farm. These concerns did little to hinder the idea of moving the project forward.

The discussion and planning process proceeded at a very slow rate. By 2014, the University had approved the project at the Dairy Farm which entailed building a manure digester, as well as a sand separation system (and housing for this), and manure storage facilities. The sand separator was needed because the plan included bedding cattle on sand. As part of the project, a new free-stall barn also was to be built that had a 220-head capacity. There was a pressing need for this barn to replace aging facilities that were no longer effective in supporting programmatic needs. In addition, two existing barns were to be demolished to make space for the new project.

The initial projected construction cost in 2014 was $7.6 million and by the time construction started in 2018, costs had risen to about $9.5 million. Between 2014 and the start of construction in 2018, there were many "starts and pauses," largely relating to issues with the budget, specifically controlling the cost increase, and dealing with the multitude of processes that Penn State uses to identify contractors, approve the architectural and engineering designs, and navigate the construction permitting process. The Department also very much wanted to remodel the tie-stall barn that is intensively used for dairy nutrition research; however, that component of the project got jettisoned because of the escalating budget costs. The project, including the digester, sand separator, free-stall barn and manure storage facility, was completed by Fall 2019.

The Department is grateful for the key roles that Randy Swope, Coordinator of Support Units (Farms) in the Department, and Jeff Spackman, Facilities Project Manager, OPP, played in the design and development of this project and for their tireless work to move it to completion!

Replacing the Henning Building

Henning Building before demolition began

A photo taken using the College drone after demolition of the Henning building

A rendering of the AVBS Building as viewed from the courtyard in front of the ASI Building

An architectural rendering of the AVBS Building viewed from Shortlidge Road looking at the front of the building

The William L. Henning Building was opened in 1967 and was the hub of the Department of Dairy and Animal Science and then the Department of Animal Science. The Henning Building housed the administrative offices, faculty and staff offices, and labs for the Department as well as the Departments of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences (VBS) and Poultry Science (before the merger in 2012). By 1979, there were problems with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in the Henning Building. One of the more significant problems was the water leaks that occurred when the temperature plummeted. These leaks created havoc by destroying equipment, ruining research projects, and frustrating colleagues, as well as the many OPP employees over the years who had to deal with the seemingly never-ending cycle of leaks followed by repairs.

When Terry Etherton assumed the position of Department Head in 1998, the HVAC problem in Henning Building was recognized by the Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, Dr. Robert Steele. In Dr. Etherton's letter of offer, Dean Steele noted that he would look to Dr. Etherton's leadership for developing a plan to replace the building. At the time, Dr. Etherton and others recognized that advocating for a new building and getting the political support at PSU and the funding was going to be a huge challenge. Of course, no one thought that this would take almost 20 years!

After heroic efforts by many, including informing the Penn State Board of Trustees about the seriousness of the problem and doing countless tours to show them and other university leadership (from OPP and Old Main) the building, approval was granted in August 2016 to form a Program Committee to begin the process of planning the Henning Building Renovation Project. The initial idea involved spending approximately $30 million to renovate the building. The focus was on designing a plan that entailed replacing the old HVAC system. After considerable deliberation and evaluation, OPP and consulting engineers concluded that structural barriers in the Henning Building precluded this renovation. When that decision was made, Dr. Etherton thought that the necessary funds to construct a new building would most likely never be secure during his career. However, after considerable effort by dedicated colleagues in the Department, College, and OPP, the Provost sent a letter on March 9, 2017 announcing that the Henning Building would be demolished, and a new building would be constructed on the current site.

With this, a Design Team comprised of faculty and staff in the Departments of Animal Science, VBS, the College, OPP and the University Architects Office was established to provide input about space and facility needs in the new building. This was the typical practice that Penn State engaged to inform the myriad of architects and engineers who were to design the new building. The Design Team was very mindful that the location for the new building was a prominent gateway onto campus and that the design of the building needed to be visually captivating because of the prominence of the location and the keen interest in having a beautiful building that harmonized with the design features of the adjacent Business Building.

The Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning recommended approval of the final plans and authorization to expend funds for the Animal, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences (AVBS) Building at a cost of $98.5 million. The project was presented to the full board for a vote and approved. The plan entailed constructing a 105,000-square-foot building that included administrative and faculty/staff offices, research laboratories, classrooms, and seminar rooms for the Animal Science and the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences departments.

Selecting the Architecture/Engineering (A/E) Team

The process of designing the new building was rigorous and superbly managed by the University Architect (Greg Kufner) and his other colleagues at OPP. The Screening Team assembled to select the A/E consortium to design and construct the AVBS Building included:

  • Lisa Berkey, Director, Design & Construction, OPP
  • Steve Watson, Director, Campus Planning & Design, OPP
  • Greg Kufner, University Architect
  • Jeff Spackman, Project Manager, OPP
  • Brad Smith, Facility Coordinator, College of Agricultural Sciences
  • Steve Garbini, Engineering Services, OPP
  • Dan Willis, Professor of Architecture
  • Bob Paulson, Professor, Department of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences
  • Terry Etherton, Head, Department of Animal Science
  • Mary Kennett, Professor, Department of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences
  • Jennie Ewton, Stuckeman Architecture Student

Mr. Kufner and his team were responsible for inviting the A/E community nationwide to submit bid proposals for review by the Screening Team. By early December 2017, the Screening Team had reviewed 35 proposals and selected the top 10 A/E teams to submit full design bid proposals for further review. Each of these proposals was about 50 to 60 pages and filled with architectural designs and lots of text that explained the A/E Team's vision for the design of the new building. By early January 2018, the Screening Team had selected the three "finalists" who were invited to the University Park campus to present their proposal on February 7, 2018. The finalists were all internationally recognized architectural, urban planning and engineering firms. The "final three" A/E Teams selected were:

  • HOK Architects, Inc., New York, NY
  • Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Chicago, IL
  • Payette, Boston, MA

The meetings to select the A/E Team that would design and build the AVBS Building were intense but great fun and reminiscent of sitting through a graduate student's final thesis examination. Each A/E Team was highly regarded and very experienced. They brought drawings and 3-D architectural renderings of the proposed building and gave very orchestrated presentations. As would be expected, each A/E Team was intent on being selected and the Screening Team had a myriad of questions for them. The Screening Team spent a great deal of time reviewing the merits of each finalist and their architectural and engineering visions, ans was charged with reaching our decision and submitting this to the Penn State Board of Trustees for their review and approval at a meeting on February 23, 2017. HOK in partnership with Turner (a large and highly regarded construction company) was selected to design and construct the AVBS Building.

This was the beginning of a process that was a huge investment of time and effort. One of the early steps was to create another team to discuss what office, lab and classroom space (in terms of square footage) was needed for the AVBS Building. The representatives for this team from the Department were Robert Elkin (Professor of Avian Nutritional Biochemistry), Kevin Harvatine (Associate Professor of Nutritional Physiology), Randy Swope (Coordinator of Support Units) and Terry Etherton (Department Head). In parallel, a lengthy and complex process began to develop the plan for moving faculty and staff in Henning to "swing space," temporary offices and labs that would be used for the time period between demolition of Henning and moving into the AVBS Building. The goal was to move to swing space in August 2018.

The team gained a deep appreciation for the complexity of designing a major research/teaching building. After the process of approximating the space needed for offices, classrooms and labs in the new building was completed, another Design Team was formed that was charged with working closely with HOK architects and colleagues from OPP and College in the design of office, labs, classrooms and seminar rooms. This team provided input on everything from building/office/lab design, which trees should be cut down (to make space for the new building) selecting desks and lab benches and wayfinding signs, to the color layout for the interior of the building. Representatives from the Department of Animal Science on this Design Team were Randy Swope, Paula Morgan (Administrative Support Coordinator), Joy Pate (C. Lee Rumberger and Family Chair in Agricultural Sciences) and Terry Etherton.

The process of moving colleagues to swing space quickly became a "texture-filled" process to manage. Some colleagues in the Agricultural Science and Industries (ASI) Building decided that they wanted to have offices and labs in the new building and volunteered to move to swing space with the understanding that they would be able move into the AVBS Building. This freed up their space in ASI Building for colleagues in Henning Building who didn't want to move into the AVBS Building. This was orchestrated by first moving some colleagues out of the ASI Building to swing space (located in Forest Resources Lab and an adjacent "lab building") in August 2018, followed by colleagues who moved from the Henning Building to ASI Building in December 2018. In the pursuit of brevity (and leaving out many details), remodeling was needed in the "lab building" and the ASI Building to accommodate the move. Also, Chad Dechow, Associate Professor of Dairy Cattle Genetics, moved his office and research program from the Henning Building to the Almquist Research Center.

After the Henning Building was vacated in early January 2019, the process began to remove all the lab benches, HVAC, and everything that was not steel or concrete from the building so that the demolition could begin. This process went "fast" and by October 2019, Henning Building was demolished and the construction of the AVBS Building began. Current projections are that the new building will be finished with a move-in date of November 3, 2021.

Horse Wing

In 2017, the Department learned that a wing of the "Old Horse Barn" (built in 1929) located on Park Avenue across from Beaver Stadium had been condemned by a consulting engineering firm hired by OPP. The concern was that some of the eaves were cracked, and engineers felt that the roof could blow off in a windstorm. The surprising part, beyond not knowing that consulting engineers were going to do a structural assessment of the Old Horse Barn, was that these cracks had been noticed for years by colleagues who worked at the Horse Farm, and there was little concern that the roof would, in fact, blow off. Nevertheless, OPP instructed the Department to abandon the wing. This was a big problem for two reasons: 1) What was it going to cost to replace, and where would the funds come from? and 2) What were we to do in the winter since the wing was used for winter housing of horses?

The initial cost estimate to replace the wing was $400,000, funds the Department did not have. After considerable discussion by Randy Swope, OPP was convinced to initiate a project to replace the wing and pay for the majority of it! However, as time dragged along and months passed, it was realized that $400,000 was not going to cover the replacement cost. After much discussion, a construction project was approved with a small amount of funds provided by the Department and the majority committed by OPP. The bid and OPP processes for design and permitting approval again had to be navigated. Finally, in late 2019, the construction project was launched and the wing was finished in 2020. The new wing is spectacular. Interestingly, the Department never did learn from OPP what the final construction cost was! Over the years, the Department has been fortunate to have great support provided by OPP!

Equine Exerciser

Dr. Danielle Smarsh joined the faculty in 2018 to oversee the adult equine extension program, teach, and conduct equine research. Dr. Smarsh's research focus is in the area of exercise physiology. As part of her letter of offer, the College agreed to provide partial funding to build an equine exerciser - an efficient and effective way to simultaneously exercise multiple horses (anywhere from 1 to 8) at precisely controlled speeds. The exerciser is a round structure in which the horses are worked along a track that traces the outer circumference. It can be built with a partial roof or a full roof to facilitate all-weather use. It was decided to build an exerciser with a full roof and, with this, the ever-present reality that more funding was needed was again confronted. Fortunately, ensuing conversations persuaded College leadership to provide funds to construct the facility. The Department was able to cash flow the costs for site preparation and installation of utilities, and the exerciser was completed in 2020. The availability of this facility will greatly benefit the Department's equine research, teaching and extension programs.

Meats Lab Upgrades

Since July 1, 2013, Jonathan Campbell (Associate Professor and Meat Science Extension Specialist), Ed Mills (Associate Professor of Meat Science) and Glenn Myers (Manager of the Meat Lab) have made significant improvements to the Penn State Meat Laboratory. These projects have been performed for both functionality and cosmetic reasons, due to the age of the facility and the fact that many activities at the facility must comply with increasingly strict Federal meat process regulations enforced by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. During the Fall semester of 2013, several key issues were identified that needed to be addressed in a long-term building improvement plan. The first item that was replaced was the chute system for handling cattle during the harvest process. The new restraint system was installed during the 2013-2014 semester break at a cost of about $25,000.

Over the following semester, funds were secured from building improvement funds at OPP to renovate the 200-seat auditorium that dated back to when the building was finished in 1958. Upgrades included a new storage area in back, installation of contemporary seats to replace the original wooden-backed seats, LED lighting, a drop-down ceiling, motor-controlled window shading, a computer podium complete with projector equipment, a sound system, and a 16-foot, power-controlled screen. All of these improvements were completed in August 2014 at a cost of around $50,000. An interesting part of the story is that the "fancy", theater-style seats were obtained for free from the Penn State Athletic Program. Originally installed in the classroom the football coaches used for "teaching" football, these seats were going to be discarded and replaced with new seats during renovation of the classroom. The Department's perspective was that the "used" seats were fabulous! The only "cost" was that Glenn and his team had to remove the seats from the football facility. Much credit goes to Glenn for discovering that the seats were going to be thrown out and for working out the process to procure them.

In the summer of 2015, a severe mold issue was discovered in the basement floor levels of the facility. This was mitigated and resulted in further upgrades to office spaces, lighting, paint and ceilings. The work was completed during the 2015-2016 semester break at a cost of about $50,000. During the summer of 2016, new epoxy flooring and refrigeration upgrades were performed for inspection purposes at a cost of around $600,000. This included new refrigeration for five large, walk-in coolers and two walk-in freezers, as well as the fresh meat cutting area where weekly sales are held. New lighting was installed. Several new equipment and other facility upgrades have been made or are in progress that will further the use of the facility for teaching, research, and extension activities. These improvements (and approximate costs) include a salami drying cabinet ($30,000 from College funds), a drying room to expand product potential ($35,000), installation of a second smokehouse ($75,000), and the development of a 4-station, commercial-type kitchen ($175,000).

Over a 5-year period, the cost of improvements at the Meat Lab totaled about $1.3 million. The Penn State Meat Science Program is growing, and it is exciting to see these changes that not only provide an environment more conducive for students to learn, but also make collecting research data and hosting extension activities easier and more inviting.


The approximately $120 million that has been spent on capital construction projects in the Department of Animal Science over the past five years is a telling testament of how highly the Department is valued by the College, University, and Commonwealth. Participation in these projects from inception of the idea to fruition was both challenging and rewarding. The Department has benefitted from the efforts of talented, dedicated colleagues, many of whom have great talent for construction, building design, and a flair for interior designing. With these improvements, the Department is well positioned to carry on the legacy of being an elite Department nationally and globally.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

In late 2019, a previously unknown virus (novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2), emerged and caused an outbreak in China. The virus quickly spread worldwide and the disease we now know as COVID-19 (coronavirus disease of 2019) was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020.

The impact of COVID-19 on Penn State, the College and Department has been profound and widespread. In early March 2020, events unfolded at Penn State that caused a dramatic shift in how people worked and taught classes. On March 11, 2020, Penn State President, Eric J. Barron, shared an urgent e-letter with the Penn State community. It is reproduced here, in part, since it marks the beginning of Penn State's response to the pandemic.

Subject: Remote classes beginning; critical information for community

Dear Penn State Community:

As you know, communities around the globe are facing unprecedented challenges as coronavirus continues to spread. It remains our goal to take the necessary, active steps to confront this public health threat and manage our risks.

In light of this situation, and in the best interests of the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and our local communities, Penn State has decided to move to remote learning for all classes beginning Monday, March 16, through Friday, April 3, with a plan to resume in-person classes on Monday, April 6, at the earliest. For faculty and staff, the University will remain open, however there are additional details below regarding specifics.

The continuity of class delivery is critical to the success of our students. All in-person classes, seminars and labs will be delivered remotely for students at every campus location. The College of Medicine will soon announce consistent protocols that reflect the unique mission of that unit and its relationship with the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Health.

(Details of guidance for students, faculty and support staff can be found at the URL above. This includes guidance for returning to campus, assistance for on-line learning, cancellation of events, health protocols and much more.)

While there are no known cases of coronavirus at University Park or Penn State's campuses at this time, there are currently more than 1,000 cases throughout the United States, including in Pennsylvania, and we anticipate this figure will continue to grow…Penn State has been following federal and state guidance, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

This action represents a significant interruption of normal business practice for our community, not only from a logistical standpoint, but also in the ways we embrace a sense of community, teach our classes, gather together, create new knowledge and share in our differences and similarities. However, we know that community infection is a primary mode of transmission, and we need to do all we can to protect those around us, including those who may be more at risk or vulnerable to this virus. If there was ever a "We Are" moment, this is it. We need to come together in the full spirit of the phrase, support one another and stand up for what we believe: The importance of community.

Thank you for your support and for being flexible given the circumstance our world is facing, and for working together to minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus within our community.

Events are unfolding rapidly, so please continue to watch for communications from Penn State, as the plans outlined above could change.

Eric J. Barron

Quickly, colleagues in the Department had to transition teaching to an online platform (Zoom) and all employees other than "mission critical" were instructed to start working remotely rather than in their office on campus. Departments were asked to submit the names and job duties of employees who met the mission critical definition for review and approval by the College and University. The definition of a mission critical employee was one whose job responsibilities align with the following essential research-related activities:

  • Activity that if discontinued would pose a safety hazard.
  • Activity that maintained critical equipment in facilities and laboratories.
  • Activity that maintained critical samples, reagents, and materials.
  • Activity that maintained our farm operations.
  • Activity that maintained critically important research

Because of the number of farms the Department operates, many mission critical employees were identified. Despite some initial uncertainty and to the great credit of colleagues who worked at our farms, farm operations were sustained throughout the pandemic.

The approval process to identify mission critical employees was the first of what became countless other University approval processes that had to be submitted for review and approval, including the development of farm, office, and laboratory safety plans for being in buildings, conducting research and office work, maintaining adequate social distancing, and limiting the number of individuals who could be in labs any one time. The over-riding expectation was that if employees could work from home, they should. This policy continued at Penn State and remained in place until August 16, 2021.

There was a mandate that safety documents be developed that followed public health guidelines issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Penn State. One requirement was to have a plan for managing situations where a colleague(s) tested positive for COVID-19. The enormity of the process that was implemented to minimize health risk and keep the University functioning was daunting.


Although moving the mode for teaching classes to an online platform during the Spring Semester of 2020 was helpful, many issues remained, including the teaching of lab courses where in-person interaction is essential. An additional burden was that many students and employees had significant issues with internet connectivity from their homes. The reality of a "digital divide" became very apparent; many Penn State students are from rural Pennsylvania where internet access and speed are a problem. Some students shared concerns about the number of family members trying to use the home network and how this impeded internet speed. Other students recounted that it was noisy at home and not a conducive environment for learning. The reality was that everyone had to do as "best as possible".

As Spring Semester 2020 passed, it became evident that a return to normal was not going to happen by the start of the Fall semester. Consequently, an incredible effort began to develop strategies for teaching classes for Fall Semester 2020. On June 18, 2020, Old Main released a plan for teaching: "Instruction was to be delivered via a robust mix of in-residence, online, remote, and hybrid modalities to best meet the needs and constraints of our students and instructors. Students who cannot be in residence (e.g., those living outside the U.S. or students with health issues) will have a high-quality online/remote experience that includes courses critical for them to begin or continue their Penn State education and engagement with the University. Students returning to their campus will learn through a mix of instructional types that allow for social distancing to protect the health of students, instructors, and staff. With adherence to health and safety protocols, including required face coverings, hygiene, and physical distancing, we seek to continue to 'slow the spread.' We will strive to maintain low infection levels in our population, which we will verify through our testing program. This can only be achieved through a careful embrace of compliance by our entire Penn State community."

The plan further indicated, "Students and instructors will be required to maintain a six-foot social distancing in classrooms, which will significantly reduce capacity in our classrooms (this reduction is typically 20% to 45% of normal). These changes will require a major revision of fall classroom assignments. The Office of Physical Plant (OPP) has provided classroom capacity information to the Registrar to use for this purpose. OPP will move furniture and/or provide signage/tape on seats to limit capacity to approved levels. The University will provide units with a variety of options that instructors might find useful in deciding how to integrate the classroom and remote experience for students."

The four categories for offering courses established by Old Main were:

  1. In Person (face-to-face instruction) - Traditional residential instruction with contingency planning for remote instruction (Zoom) based on faculty and student needs.
  2. Mixed Mode - Mix of in-person and remote through classroom space rotation, reduced in-person class time (through either synchronous or asynchronous modes), in-person class time that contains experiential learning elements, or some combination of these. In the rotation model, some students attend in-person sessions while others attend those same sessions simultaneously online. In the virtual enriched model, asynchronous or synchronous online content is expanded upon in the residential classroom through engaging teaching strategies and/or in-person aspects that cannot be delivered online (g., labs).
  3. Remote Synchronous - Completely online with scheduled meeting times for all students and faculty to meet simultaneously.
  4. Remote Asynchronous - Completely online with NO scheduled meeting times. Lectures are taped for access by students at a time of convenience.


From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, research at the University was adversely impacted. A major challenge were the university policies that limited how many individuals could be in a laboratory at a time. Though frustration grew, researchers found ways to cope with supply chain problems that prevented getting lab supplies in a timely way. Dealing with policies and shortages continued.

The University implemented a Return to Research policy that departments had to comply with in order to approve employees' return to work in research labs. This was approved with an implementation date of June 15, 2020. Some aspects of the policy included:

Time in the Building: Your time in the building/laboratory should be the minimum required to complete your work. Do not plan on "working" in your office. Laboratory Occupancy: The faculty member overseeing the lab space will establish a schedule for use of each laboratory. You must have permission from the faculty member to enter the laboratory and use any equipment. Maintain a spacing minimum of no more than 1 person/ 200 sq feet (8 ft radius) in labs.

As summer passed and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated throughout the U.S., plans were developed to bring students back to campus for the Fall semester. Many Penn State employees and community members were concerned about students spreading the SARS CoV-2 virus, which became a reality and caused consternation in the Centre County region. The University created what they believed was a sensible and appropriate testing program for return students. Testing results presented below from the University COVID-19 Dashboard indicate, however, that case number shot up.

Test results from August 7 to December 17, 2020

On-demand student tests: 47,707 tests, 4666 positives

Random tests: 39,210 tests, 386 positives

Test results from December 19, 2020 to March 18, 2021

On-demand student tests: 55,241 tests, 1330 Positives

As the proportion of the U.S. population that is vaccinated increases, there is hope on the horizon for a "return to normal". Penn State announced that classes for Fall semester 2021 will be in-person on-campus.

Growth of the Animal Science (ANSC) Major

When Terry Etherton assumed the Department Head position in 1998, it was evident that enrollment in the undergraduate major needed to increase to support the standing of the Department in the academic community. In discussions with colleagues, it became evident that someone needed to be tasked specifically to oversee a dynamic program that focused on recruitment and retention of undergraduate students in the major, and to provide support to students attending other Penn State campus locations. It was recognized that there were large and active alumni groups aligned with the Department that could help recruit prospective students. It was also realized that the days of just waiting for students to apply to Penn State was not a viable recruiting strategy and that a proactive marketing strategy for the Department and major to prospective students was needed.

Funds were identified and a Program Coordinator position (now called Advising Coordinator) was created in 1999. The Department was extraordinarily fortunate that Jana Peters, an alumna of the Department who worked in the Department as a Research Technician, assumed the new position in 1999. Jana was a dedicated, passionate, hard-working colleague who had fantastic organizational and interpersonal skills. Importantly, Jana was very "plugged into" our alumni base, in large part because she was the Secretary-Treasurer of the Penn State Stockmen's Club. The growth of our undergraduate program in subsequent years was remarkable to watch (see Figure). Jana and colleagues like Harold Harpster, Dale Olver, Phillip Clauer, Erskine Cash, Bob Mikesell, and others did a heroic job of recruiting extremely qualified high school students to our undergraduate program. Jana became a very visible "face" of the Department of Animal Science in Pennsylvania and the East Coast.


With respect to the rapid growth in the undergraduate major, it is important to note that the relatively stable enrollment in the ANSC major in the last ten years was the result of intentionally seeking to stabilize the number of students. To continue the growth of our major would require additional personnel and funding that has not been provided.

When Jana retired in 2017, Rachel Cloninger became the Advising Coordinator. A graduate of the program, Rachel has all the attributes that are essential for success in the position, so Department activities and programs to recruit and advise undergraduate students continue unabated.

Part of the success of these recruiting efforts can be attributed to the many on-campus activities the Department hosts to which high school students are invited. (Note that in 2020, COVID-19 made it necessary to halt these activities, some of which continued virtually.) The many student clubs offer continuing contact with students, reaching out to keep potential students interested and increase the visibility of the University, the major, and its opportunities. The section on undergraduate clubs highlights their activities, the opportunities for involvement and their impact.

The growth and enduring success of the undergraduate Animal Science major is an impressive testament to the vision, talent and dedication of many colleagues in the Department. The Animal Science major is widely recognized and has played a key role in helping to position the Department as one of the elite academic units among our peers in the United States.

The Department Farms and Meats Lab

Over the years, Dr. Etherton frequently referred to the Department as one of the last "full-service" academic departments among peer departments in the United States. The use of the term "full-service" was used to convey that the Department continues to operate all the livestock and poultry farms necessary for a contemporary Department of Animal Sciences. It also manages a USDA-inspected Meat Lab which holds a very popular weekly sale on Friday that is open to the community. These facilities are of great programmatic importance for the Department's programs in research, teaching, and extension (both youth and adult). They also are important for recruiting undergraduate and graduate students to the Department.

Management of the department farms and Meat Lab is a large and complex process. Fortunately, all of these units (listed below), with the exception of the Haller and Houtz Beef Farms (located near the University Park Airport), are located within a five-minute drive of campus (further details about our farms and Meats Lab). Having many of the farms close to Beaver Stadium poses unique management challenges whenever there is a home football game, including ease of access of employees to the farms because of heavy traffic. In addition, maintaining biosecurity protocols and keeping visitors from wandering around the facilities can be challenging.

Department Farms

  • Beef-Sheep Center (includes as part of the Beef Farm the Haller and Houtz Farms; includes Farm 5 and Dill Farm as part of the Sheep Farm)
  • Dairy Farm (includes the Almquist Research Center)
  • Deer Research Center
  • Equine Farms ("Old" and "New" Horse Barns)
  • Haller Farm
  • Meat Lab
  • Poultry and Research Education Center
  • Swine Education and Research Farm

The department farms are overseen by Farm Managers and Assistant Managers (13 total); these individuals currently report to Randy Swope, Coordinator of the Support Units. At the Dairy Farm and the Poultry and Research Education Center (PERC), there are other full-time union employees. There are also nine tech service employees at the Dairy Farm and two at PERC. In addition, a sizeable number (50 to 60 per semester) of undergraduate students work part-time at all the farm units and Meat Lab. These are highly sought-after opportunities, providing the students with a robust, "hands-on" educational experience. In addition, some students who work at the units have the opportunity to live at the farms/Meat Lab rent free in exchange for working a specified number of hours per week.

Animal Inventory (as of June 2021)

  • Dairy 482 head = 235 milking and dry cows and 247 heifers
  • Swine 580 head = 59 sows, 172 nursery and 349 feeder/finisher
  • Beef 298 head = 127 bred cows, 136 weaned calves, 33 feedlot, 2 bulls
  • Sheep 121 head = 72 ewes, 44 ewe lambs, 1 ram, 4 wethers
  • Deer (Whitetail) 80 head = 39 breeding age does, 25 males, 16 fawns
  • Horse 77 head = 33 mature mares, 5 mature stallions, 19 yearlings, 20 foals
  • Poultry 1500 Broilers, 500 Turkeys, 2000 layers, 750 broiler breeders

Acreage of Farms/Units

Farm/Unit Acres (2020)
Beef 400
Dairy 323
Horse 40
Sheep 100
Deer 22
Swine 38
Meats Lab 18,000 ft2 of total space
PERC Consists of six buildings with 50,000 ft2 of total space
Total 923

The Penn State Deer Research Center

image013.jpgLocated in a 22-acre fenced enclosure northeast of campus off of Big Hollow Road, the Penn State Deer Research Center provides research and educational opportunities for students and faculty.

Deer research initially began in 1952 at the request of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and it continues to provide valuable information.

The current Center was constructed in 1972 and includes a handling facility and nine outdoor paddocks ranging in size from 0.3 to 3.5 acres. The handling facility, centrally located within the enclosure, contains 24 individual holding pens, chutes for deer restraint, an animal scale, and a feed room. The facility typically maintains a herd of about 75 captive white-tailed deer.

Students are able to get valuable hands-on experience in animal husbandry, natural resource management and research, all of which prepares them for careers in a broad range of fields including animal science, wildlife management, veterinary medicine and biology, or graduate study.

Over the years, research projects have focused on antler growth, nutrition, repellents and appropriate fences. Other studies have looked at the health benefits of probiotics in the rations of farmed deer and palatability tests to determine preference for a variety of native and invasive plant species.

The Center has completed a collaborative study with the National Wildlife Research Center to address deer overpopulation issues in several eastern states that led to the EPA registration of an immunocontraceptive vaccine for white-tailed deer. There is close cooperation with federal agencies and other universities in the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines for a variety of diseases affecting both farmed and wild white-tailed deer.

As new topics and issues arise, opportunities for deer research at Penn State are expected to continue. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a contagious neurological disease that infects deer has been rapidly spreading to various states, including Pennsylvania. A recent double fencing initiative and study at the facility focused on reducing disease transmission between wild and captive deer herds. Current research projects are evaluating the use of deer to control tick populations in an effort to reduce the prevalence of Lyme Disease and other tick-borne disease that impact human health.

Penn State Football Parking and the Department

For many years, there has been an annual ritual that involves vacating many pastures that are close to Beaver Stadium. These pastures are then used as parking lots by fans who were attending the Penn State football games. The Department had to vacate these pastures prior to the annual July 4 fireworks display held near Beaver stadium and the pastures were not accessible from July until the following spring. When Dr. Etherton started as Department Head, the Department received $15,000 per year as compensation for these "costs"! This was far short of the "real" costs which were estimated to be more like $150,000 per year! Eventually, the annual reimbursement was increased to $30,000.

A never-ending problem was that parking thousands of vehicles on pastures is not good for plant health. Imagine vehicles being driven (and getting stuck) on pastures during/after rain and snowstorms! There were times that the ensuing quagmires were truly impressive. Moreover, the tailgating that accompanied game day was another annoyance. Of course, if one conducted a survey about what was most important to Penn States fans on a football weekend - tailgating or the pastures, the outcome would be obvious! The Penn State Athletic "grounds crew" always worked hard to restore the pastures after the football season and in the Spring. However, in practical terms, about the time the pastures were restored it was time for the cycle of July 4 parking and the following football season to begin again.

There were a couple of instances where the management team at the Beef/Sheep Center proposed that we graze animals on the pastures used for parking between football games. The first time this was tried there was a big ruckus and it had to be stopped: there were sensitivities shared about the possibility that fans might step in manure and that, of course, would be unacceptable. For the most part the Department complied, but one time the question was again presented that since there were three weeks until the next game perhaps, some sheep could be "run" on the pasture adjacent to Ag Arena. Dr. Etherton said yes and again the Department landed in "hot water" with the Athletic Program.

Presidential Candidate Barack Obama Visits the Department Dairy Farm (March 30, 2008)

Presidential candidate U.S. Senator Barack Obama, right, was greeted at the dairy barns by, from left: Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Dairy and Animal Science; Dr. Robert Steele, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences; U.S. Senator Robert Casey.

In the Spring of 2008 it was announced that Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for the President of the United States, wanted to visit Penn State and, specifically, a setting that would resonate with voters in rural Pennsylvania. The inquiry by Mr. Obama and his staff prompted much discussion about what this location should be. Leadership in Old Main enthusiastically championed the idea that the lawn in front of Old Main would be a suitable venue for his speech. It became clear very quickly, however, that Senator Obama and his staff wanted an animal agriculture setting. What ensued was an interesting exercise in political science. Senator Obama's advisors wanted to visit a farm on campus to provide photo opportunities for the press pool that was to accompany Senator Obama. There was a strong belief by Obama's staff that photos of the Senator visiting the Penn State Dairy Farm would be well received by voters in rural Pennsylvania. This was aligned with the recognition that the dairy industry in Pennsylvania was a large economic sector. With this, planning in the Department began for his visit on March 30, 2008.

The planning was a bit comical. The Secret Service arrived on the Wednesday before the visit to do a security sweep of the dairy farm and secure it for the Senator's visit. It was also announced that Robert Casey, the Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania, would accompany Senator Obama. The sweep created challenges for employees and visitors entering the farm due to the security checkpoints. Another humorous aspect was the use of bomb dogs by the Secret Service agents to assure that no explosive devices were "planted" on the farm. Some colleagues who worked at the farm asked, how could the dogs detect any explosive aromatic signature(s) against the background smells of the dairy farm? This question was never answered!

Early Sunday morning, Casey and Obama played basketball at Rec Hall. The motorcade departed the Penn Stater hotel at 11:12 am and arrived shortly thereafter at the Penn State Dairy Farm where Senator Obama and Senator Casey were greeted by Robert Steele, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, and Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Dairy and Animal Science. Obama and Casey also met with students along with Virgina Ishler, Manager, and Travis Edwards, Co-Manager of the Dairy Farm. Because biosecurity measures were in place at the Dairy Farm, it had been communicated to Senator Obama's staff that all visitors would be required to put on disposable plastic boots before they got off the buses. What ensued was hilarious!


Imagine members of a large press pool putting on blue plastic boots and following Mr. Obama around the facilities (see photos)! Dr. Steele quickly explained (again) the purpose of wearing the boots to the entourage, many of whom had never been on a dairy farm in their life! Interestingly, Casey and Obama, however, wore brand new Timberland boots purchased by the campaign. Obama made fun of the press pool by commenting that "You guys look good - I bought some new shoes."

There was a question-and-answer session and Obama and Casey met with student employees for an engaging conversation about what they did and what their future plans were. The students enjoyed the conversation immensely. After about 90 minutes, the tour concluded and Mr. Obama and the entourage traveled to Old Main for a speech to about 25,000 attendees on the lawn, which pleased the leadership in Old Main.

Dairy Programs

Dairy Alliance

The Penn State Dairy Alliance was created in 2000 as a strategy to ensure that Extension personnel continued their historic mission of providing dairy producers and industry leaders with the most relevant and up-to-date information. It was a response, in part, to increased requests from some of the state's most progressive dairy producers who sought increased levels of support from the University as well as private enterprise, all to enhance the economic development of Pennsylvania's important dairy industry.

With leadership from Extension Dairy Specialist Dr. William Heald and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, a series of "Dairy Futures Forums" were held to gather information about the most relevant needs of dairy producers. These meetings launched an initiative that led to the creation of Dairy Alliance. This process was conducted in concert with advocacy efforts at Penn State to obtain financial support from the Pennsylvania General Assembly. An "interesting" part of the advocacy effort that has not been widely shared is that a critically important component of this involved Dr. Etherton being mentored by Charles Brosius who was the Secretary of Agriculture for the Commonwealth. The mentoring pertained to learning about the budget appropriation process in the General Assembly and who the key decision makers were in the House and Senate who could help "make things" happen! Since this was not an approach that Old Main favored, i.e., Department Heads meeting with Executive leadership in state government to champion a "special" appropriation, Charlie thought that he should meet with Dr. Etherton in an out-of-the-way location. So, they met at the Stockyard Inn in Lancaster for lunch in a back room. Dr. Etherton recalls that both the discussion and the lunch were fabulous,and remembers thinking that no one would ever find them even if they had directions to the restaurant! This launched the process that resulted in a state appropriation that funded Dairy Alliance.

By melding the resources of Extension, industry leaders and producers, Dairy Alliance provided leadership to improve dairy profitability by identifying bottlenecks and looking at the whole farm management business vs. individual production practices. In an evolution of the classic Extension model, Dairy Alliance offered discussion groups, seminars, online programs, profit teams and collaboration with all leaders who had an impact on the farm. Dr. Heald and Associate Professor of Dairy Science, Dr. Lisa Holden, provided strong leadership in setting up the early programs, along with hiring the initial core Dairy Alliance faculty and staff - Brad Hilty, Richard Stup, Sarah Cornelisse, Tammy Perkins and Michele Moyer.

One specific initiative that was begun and nurtured by Dairy Alliance was the creation of dairy profit teams, designed to bring together individual producers and off-farm advisors - nutritionists, veterinarians, bankers and others. The concept was to gather the principal decision makers as a "board of directors" to provide oversight and direction to the dairy farm business.

The Pennsylvania Dairy Stakeholders with facilitator Alan Bair were early promoters of the concept and, working with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA), helped secure grants from PDA and other economic development entities. Much of the support for the profit team concept continues still through the leadership of the Penn State Extension Dairy Team and the Center for Dairy Excellence which is affiliated with the PA Department of Agriculture. These dairy advisory teams have proved their worth from the beginning and have become an integral part of many dairy producers' planning and management over the past 20 years.

Beginning in 2009, county Extension educators became part of Dairy Alliance and by 2011, the Dairy Alliance became known as the Penn State Extension Dairy Team adding staff from the Departments of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences. This shift led to an even broader view of farm management and encouraged new programming. Innovative efforts included teaching producers and agribusiness professionals how to manage risk, animal well-being, a farm work force, nutrients, and technology to increase profitability. With technology developing and expanding, the Extension Dairy Team began to offer online tools that greatly enhanced their outreach and they developed customized training for individual producers and agribusiness groups. They also provided training and materials for Spanish speakers. One of the more notable "customized" education programs was developed for progressive dairy producers in New Mexico. Although the name has changed, the mission remains the same: to provide quality educational programming based on Penn State research.

Penn State Dairy Nutrition Workshop

The Penn State Dairy Nutrition Workshop began as a series of Extension meetings held across the Commonwealth that targeted the very large and diverse dairy nutrition industry in Pennsylvania. With over 6500 dairy farms at that time in Pennsylvania, it became evident that Extension should develop and deliver a program that could impact the feeding of cows directly on farms. The level of education and background of dairy nutritionists in Pennsylvania ranged from a few with Ph.D. degrees in dairy nutrition to some with a high school education and others who were retired dairy farmers trying to help other dairy farmers. Some were very reluctant to get the dairy feed industry together for educational programs because they saw them as competition, and they were uncooperative with Penn State.

However, several leaders in the Dairy Extension group spent five fall seasons in the late 1990s traveling to different locations across the state in a grueling week of regional meetings. Each year an increasing number of dairy nutritionists came out to this learning environment. They presented lectures, had an out-of-state speaker, and delivered several hands-on learning programs in the 6-hour event each day and thus developed a reputation as a dairy nutrition workshop. As a 5-day commitment for 4-6 people, it became increasingly difficult to carry out this program.

The solution was to create the Dairy Nutrition Workshop in 2000 and have a single, 2-day meeting at the Grantville Holiday Inn. It was called the Penn State Dairy Nutrition Workshop to distinguish it from other nutrition conferences that were being held across the country and to help maintain the small group workshop environment that had become so well liked by attendees. In the first year, 176 people attended, and the program included several speakers for the morning programs with Penn State Extension faculty and educators speaking at the afternoon workshops. The conference grew in attendance yearly by 5-10%.

Soon a trade show was added as part of the workshop to allow attendees to see the variety of products that were available on the market and for the dairy industry product suppliers to have contact with the people who were out on the farm balancing rations and making recommendations to dairy farmers. The trade show aspect also grew from 18 to 74 companies.

The trade show offset the conference costs for registrants, and this allowed the conference to remain by far the most affordable dairy nutrition conference in the country. This, along with high-quality speakers and workshops, gave the workshop the reputation as one of the premier (and best value) conferences in the US. Continuing education credits were offered for PA veterinarians and members of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS). The conference has promoted ARPAS and has been a location for ARPAS testing, a unique aspect of promoting this important national organization. The conference has also been the venue that the Northeast ARPAS organization has used for its annual meeting for many years.

In the past 5-8 years, the Penn State Dairy Nutrition Workshop has been the largest US conference of its kind in total attendance. One aspect that may have greatly contributed to the success of the conference was the planning committee. Members of this committee carefully assembled the lead dairy nutritionists from many of the feed companies in Pennsylvania, along with a few independent nutritionists and consultants, for a one-morning meeting each year to get ideas and topics on their lists of important items for that given year, thus providing a window on their 'hot buttons' for the season. This information was used to evolve the final program and invite speakers from national and international locations to address the topics.

The conference had become the largest and most lucrative conference for the Grantville Holiday Inn and they went to great strides to accommodate the group by renting chairs and tables as well as calling in a large number of employees for the event. However, the number of workshop attendees exceeded the hotel room capacity at the facility even with using two neighboring facilities. It was concluded that the workshop needed to move but stay in the southeastern part of the state since many Pennsylvania feed companies had their headquarters in this region. Thus, in 2019 the workshop has held for the first time at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, PA. It was a huge success with the largest number of attendees ever (648) from 33 states and 12 countries on five continents. The major goal is for the Pennsylvania dairy feed industry to attend, and about 40% of the attendees are still from within the state.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 forced the conference to be virtual, the 2021 conference will again be at Hershey and hopes are that it can be a further step forward. Since the first conference, Dr. Jud Heinrichs has been coordinator and chair of the event along with tremendous support for 19 of the years by Coleen Jones. For much of that time, Coleen worked remotely from her home in southern Virginia, and for many years it seemed unusual to do so. However, after 2020 when most people worked remotely, it seems quite normal. Jud was actively involved in the planning the 2021 conference but retired on June 30, 2021 and has turned over the leadership of this important event. The expectation is that the conference will continue to host educational sessions that meet the needs of the dairy feed industry.

Farmshine Outreach

To enhance and continue the mission of disseminating knowledge about animals and animal production systems and to enhance the Department's brand name, we realized that we should partner with Farmshine. The Department reached an agreement in 2009 with Farmshine Editor and Publisher Dieter Krieg (Dairy Science '67) to prepare a page each month for this widely read weekly dairy publication that reaches more than three quarters of all industry leaders and dairy producers in the Middle Atlantic region. From new research initiatives to student accomplishments to international collaborations to timely information, over 132 published pages have ensured that readers throughout the industry have access to the many exceptional dairy-related programs of the Department. Animal Science faculty and staff and the Extension Dairy Team support the effort by preparing relevant and practical articles that benefit both producers and leaders in the dairy industry.Topics covered have included a wide range of research projects and their application for dairy producers, student accomplishments, and international collaborations.

Horse Program

Penn State Quarter Horses

Over the history of the Penn State Horse Program, 2003 will be remembered as perhaps the most influential year. That year marked the beginning of a complete re-tooling of the genetic base of the Quarter Horse herd as well as holding the inaugural student-run Quarter Horse sale. The concept for revamping the program was driven by a need to increase the quality of the horses to enhance revenue opportunities and to enhance visibility of the program to stakeholders and prospective students. It was also realized that the Department did not have sufficient financial resources to purchase horses with high genetic merit. Brian Egan, then an Equine Extension Associate and now Assistant Teaching Professor of Equine Science, was the catalyst for this idea, and it a decision was made to pursue donations of horses and breeding services. Thus began what has become a resoundingly successful change in the Penn State Quarter Horse Program.

The process for this change was made possible through two stallion donations to the program facilitated by then faculty farm coordinator Dr. Nancy Diehl (Assistant Professor of Animal Science) in 2003. First, in 2003, Ken and Kara Mills of Fruitland, MD donated The Cashmire Kid. The Mills family was active in the Quarter Horse industry and had a relationship with the Penn State breeding program for decades. Not only had they donated horses to the program before, but the horses they donated had been successful members of the breeding program including long-time herd sire, Lucky Zip. Although they were seeking to support the program with another genetically superior stallion, what they didn't realize was that the acceptance of this horse would pave the way for many subsequent donations. Before "Kid" could be donated, University policies for approving a charitable donation had to be traversed. As part of this, an IRS-approved appraisal was needed, and this had to be sent "up the line" to University Development for their review and approval. The subsequent events played out in an amusing manner. When the paperwork was sent to Old Main, the Department Head (Terry Etherton) got a call very quickly asking what was going on and how could a horse be worth the appraised value of $80,000? Dr. Etherton responded that he did not know "beans" (nor did the folks in University Development) about the value of the stallion, but pointed out clearly that approving this appraisal would be instrumental in attracting future donations. They quickly agreed and the way forward was assured. It didn't take long for subsequent donations to materialize, and later in 2003 Image of Shadow was donated by Scott and Mary Beth Gordon of Maneline Farm in Elverson, PA. Image of Shadow was a 1994 brown stallion by Leaguers Shadow and out of Absolutely Hot (by Hotrodders Jet Set).

The donation of these two stallions set in place a series of events that helped move the Quarter Horse herd back into the national spotlight in a way that had not been the case since Skip Sioux was the lead stallion in the 1970's and early 1980's. In 2004, Brian Egan moved into the position of Faculty Coordinator of the horse farm. With the addition of the new stallions, he took the approach of improving the broodmare band and modernizing the genetic makeup of the entire herd. With this, several mares were donated to the program that continued to move the it into the modern Quarter Horse world. Shifty Eyed Bonita and Zipped To A Te were donated by the Bobbs family from Jersey Shore, PA in 2004 and, when bred to Image of Shadow, produced not only desirable sale horses, but also several broodmares which themselves became great producers over time.

In 2005, the great show mare Dynamic Zippo was donated to the university by Pat and Denny Doverspike from Ringgold, PA. This mare would eventually be bred to three-time World Champion stallion One Hot Krymsun in 2006, a donated breeding from Rebecca Bailey Cincinnati, OH. That breeding resulted in the arrival of PSU Dynamic Krymsun in 2007. This young stallion was raised by the university and, with the help of Randy and Darcy Mitchell of Randy Mitchell Quarter Horses in Freeport, PA, went on to have a celebrated show career. "Rocky", as he was known, earned multiple top ten honors at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress highlighted by a 7th place (out of a total of 83 entries) in the Green Western Riding in 2012. PSU Dynamic Krymsun became a popular breeding stallion and his influence on the Penn State breeding herd became apparent quickly. Some of his first foals garnered national attention like PSU Krymsun Shadow who earned several top ten awards at the Quarter Horse Congress and PSU Willy Be Krymsun who was named World Champion in Select Showmanship in 2017. Unfortunately, an accident in the pasture resulted in PSU Dynamic Krymsun being euthanized in 2017; nonetheless, his influence on Penn State's breeding herd continues today.

In 2005, a donation of six reining bred mares and one reining bred stallion by Ronald and Susan Johnson of Spring Mills, PA, kickstarted a specialized reining horse segment to the Quarter Horse herd. This subset of the program allowed students to experience the true diversity of the Quarter Horse breed. The reining horse program quickly became a tremendous asset to the program and in 2012, Joe and Julianne Tylka of Warriors Mark, PA donated a pair of breedings for the 2010 United States Equestrian Team (USET) horse of the year Gunners Special Nite to the program. One of the resulting offspring from these breedings is PSU He Rox The Nite. PSU He Rox The Nite is a 2013 stallion out of Lil Roxanne Winder (a mare also donated by the Johnsons) who was raised and maintained in the herd as a breeding stallion. "RC" as he is known, is double registered (AQHA and APHA) and represents some of the most modern and desirable genetics in the industry. His first foals have shown all the conformational correctness, eye appeal, and athleticism that reining horse enthusiasts look for in a horse. While it is still early in his breeding career, everyone in the program is excited to watch his popularity rise. 2020 was the first year that multiple "RC" offspring were sold, and the four two-year-olds sold for an average of $10,350.

image019.jpgJoining PSU Dynamic Krymsun in 2009 was Time To Score, a 2008 stallion by Time To Touch and out of Precisely TH Coolest. Time To Score was donated to Penn State by Ken and Kara Mills to help fill the hole left by the passing of Lucky Zip. This young stallion continued the long-standing history of well-bred halter horses at Penn State. His offspring have all shown the conformational correctness and high-quality appearance that Penn State Quarter Horses were best known for in the early 1980's. His offspring have been shown in halter and performance classes at various levels, perhaps highlighted by PSU Scorin For You earning 8th place honors in the Amateur Yearling Geldings at the 2019 All American Quarter Horse Congress. Along with the donation of this stallion, the Mills donated three yearling fillies to help bolster the genetic potential of the halter horse segment of the herd.

With the unfortunate loss of PSU Dynamic Krymsun in 2017, the breeding program reached another crossroad in its history. His untimely loss was met with much dismay across the entire industry. It was at that time that Rebecca and Craig Bailey (Cincinnati, OH), stepped up to help continue the tradition of excellence in the breeding herd. The Baileys were responsible for donating the breeding service to One Hot Krymsun that resulted in the beloved stallion, and they were determined to step up to help the program once again. Their solution was to donate a young stallion, Red White N Good, to the breeding herd. Red White N Good is a 2009 stallion by Zippos Mr Goodbar out of Krymsun Jet Set. "Irish" is a multiple top 15 winner at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress and a National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA) World Champion producer. His qualities are similar to those possessed by PSU Dynamic Krymsun and allowed the breeding program to move forward without missing a beat. At the same time, the Baileys decided to stand their incomparable stallion One Hot Krymsun at Penn State and entrusted Penn State to handle all of his breeding obligations. One Hot Krymsun is a 3-time World Champion Western Pleasure stallion and one of the most successful producing stallions in the history of the Quarter Horse breed. To add to those new stallions on the farm, One N Only was donated to the program in summer 2019 by the Curiale family of Hidden Lake Farm in Swedesboro, NJ. One N Only is a 2007 stallion who earned top 5 honors at the AQHA World Championship as a 2-year-old and is a World Champion Producer. Foals by all three of these stallions are very desirable in the Quarter Horse Show industry and should continue to be for many years to come. The combination of these three stallions along with PSU He Rox The Nite give Penn State students an opportunity to work with some of the best genetics in the industry.

image021.jpgMuch of this history has centered around donations of stallions to the program. However, many of the donations acquired since 2004 have either been broodmares or stallion breedings. The list of broodmares acquired include many AQHA champions, World Show qualifiers, and even World Show top ten earners. In total, there have been 6 stallions and 50 broodmares donated to Penn State between 2004 and the end of 2020. The appraised value of these horses is over $1.7 million. In addition, stallion owners and other supporters have donated 47 stallion breeding services valued at over $87,000, including a total of 22 breedings to the incomparable One Hot Krymsun. The industry support of the Penn State Quarter Horse herd during the past 16 years has been remarkable, and has allowed Penn State to become one of the top university Quarter Horse breeding programs in the United States.

The resurgence of the Penn State Quarter Horse breeding program into the national spotlight occurred in parallel with the creation of the annual student-run Penn State Equine Science Showcase and Quarter Horse Sale. Although Penn State has been raising Quarter Horses for over 60 years, prior to 2003 students had not been involved in the marketing of horses. Based on the model used for the purebred Dorset sale that had been held in the department, the horse group set out to create a similar program for the horse sale. An integral part of the plan was the creation of an Equine Marketing course that was offered in the Spring semester. With only 10 to 12 two-year-old horses offered each year, the event was organized to be a showcase of the entire equine science program as well as a horse sale. Each spring, students enrolled in Equine Marketing work together with faculty, staff, and other students to coordinate what has grown into a celebration of the entire Equine Science program. The sale is held on the last Saturday of the semester. Over the years, the event has evolved and has taken several forms; however, the consistent presence has been that of the undergraduate students involved with the program. Many students who take the Equine Marketing class have elected to help in subsequent years by serving as committee chairs for the event and to help currently enrolled students through the process. In addition, two students are selected each year to serve as Assistant Sale Managers, and these students assume the student Manager position for the sale the following year. It has become common for students who take the Equine Marketing course during their first year at Penn State to stay involved with the event for the four years of their undergraduate career. The Penn State Equine Science Showcase and Quarter Horse Sale has grown into an annual event which often draws 400 to 500 people to the Ag Arena on campus. It has been rewarding to witness the increase in attendance at the sale and the improvement in genetics and quality of our horses. This has been associated with a progressive increase in the value of the horses sold at the sale.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 precipitated a marked change in the annual sale that involved transitioning the event to an online format. Undeterred, the students charged forward and worked closely with Pro Horse Services (Round Hill, VA) to plan and conduct the annual sale. It was a great success with the average price ($7,891) being the highest in the history of the sale. Another interesting benefit of the online format was that it increased visibility of the program and resulted in bidder numbers being assigned to potential buyers from 36 states plus Canada and France. The newfound national presence also resulted in over 120,000 visits to the sale webpage on Pro Horse Services site.

The 2021 online sale was held from April 27 to May 1. The sale was a huge success and set a new record for average sale price. Thirteen horses sold for $134,900. The average sale price, $10,376, surpassed the previous record set in 2020. There were 288 Bidders from 40 States and three Canadian Provinces.

The many improvements in the Penn State Quarter Horse breeding program along with the success of the student run sale have brought much national visibility and acclaim to the program. This has bolstered the Equine Science minor as well as helped ensure large class sizes. In addition to the Equine Marketing class, other new classes have been established in Advanced Equine Nutrition, Advanced Equine Reproduction and Breeding Farm Management, Advanced Equine Exercise Physiology, and Equine Facilitated Therapy. Collectively, these courses have helped increase the marketability of Penn State Equine Science students in all facets of the equine industry. The combination of nationally recognized genetics and increased student opportunities has helped grow the student population to levels never reached previously. The Equine Science Minor is consistently one of the largest minors not only in the College of Agricultural Sciences but at the University. In addition, graduates of this program are obtaining more jobs in the equine reproduction, nutrition, and management fields. The development of social media platforms has helped obtain "buy in" from students and also helped to continuously promote the program nationwide.

Extracurricular activities for students have grown remarkably due to the emergence of student clubs such as CHAPS (Collegiate Horseman's Association at Penn State) and PSERT (Penn State Equine Research Team). Undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in research projects involving horses, compete on the intercollegiate Horse Judging Team, and even show some of the Penn State Quarter Horses at the Pennsylvania Quarter Horse Association fall futurity each September.

It is evident that the period from 2003 until 2021 has been an exciting era during which the Penn State Equine Science Program evolved into one of the elite Equine Science programs in the United States.

History of the Pennsylvania 4-H Horse Program

One of the hallmark 4-H programs in the College is the 4-H Horse Program. For over 60 years the program has provided countless youth in the Commonwealth the opportunity to participate and learn valuable skills that will benefit them for a lifetime. Oversight for this program and other animal-related 4-H programs at Penn State over the decades has been the purview of the Department of Animal Science.

The 4-H Horse Program Development Committee, comprised of Penn State faculty, staff and volunteers, has the responsibility of managing the Pennsylvania 4-H Horse Program. The Chair of the Committee has always been a faculty member in the Department of Animal Science. Pat Comerford served as Chair from 1998 until 2017 when Andrea Kocher assumed this position. The Chair has responsibilities that span the spectrum from curricula development to overseeing all the 4-H horse shows in the Commonwealth. The competitive events managed include:

  • Local, county, district and state horse shows
  • Regional horse production shows
  • State and regional 4-H competitive trail rides
  • Horse judging contests
  • Hippology, Horse Bowl and Skillathon contests
  • Public speaking and demonstration contests
  • County Educational Display Contest
  • Model horse shows

Pennsylvania 4-H horse programs are designed to develop life skills in youth, while providing a working knowledge of horse production and management principles. Competitions and projects also promote development of riding, handling, and showmanship skills, while encouraging self-confidence, sportsmanship, and responsible care of project animals. Horse projects in 4-H clubs are available for all youth with an interest in horses, from novice through advanced levels. Members who do not own a horse may enroll in projects to learn more about horses and actively participate in numerous 4-H horse programs and activities. Horse club members include youth from all counties in Pennsylvania and from rural, urban, and suburban areas.

The Impetus for the Horse Program Fee

It was clear when Dr. Etherton started as Department Head in 1998 that additional resources were needed to maintain current programs and provide additional opportunities and resources to further enhance the quality of the program. Pat Comerford made it very clear that the 4-H Horse Program Development Committee and Penn State faculty and staff in the program were challenged to meet the needs of extension educators, volunteers and youth at the county, district, and regional level. Likewise, it was difficult for county educators and volunteers to meet local and district program requests and needs. Discussions ensued and the idea evolved that creating a program fee would be the goal. The next step for the 4-H Horse Program Development Committee and other stakeholders was to launch the effort to create the fee and get approval by College leadership. It was not an easy initiative to move forward. In 2008 the program was "rolled" out to youth members in the 4-H Horse Program.

Since the program had operated for years without any program fee, there was hesitancy by some to introduce a fee. It was decided that the fee would $25 per year, with $5 to be contributed to a newly created endowment. The remaining $20 would be devoted to hiring two extension associates to assist county extension educators and volunteers with regional and multi-county 4-H horse events and activities. These included:

  • Horsemanship and handling clinics
  • Trail riding and other recreational programs
  • Activities for urban and suburban youth and youth who do not own horses
  • Horse judging, horse bowl, hippology and communications resources
  • Therapeutic horsemanship
  • Regional or multi-county camps, meetings, clinics, etc.
  • Volunteer, extension educator and youth training

The process for arriving at how much the program fee would be was more eventful that one might imagine. The approach was based on the premise that estimating salaries and operational budget would provide a reliable estimate of the budget needed. With this information and knowing the number of youth in the 4-H Horse Program, a fee could easily be determined. Pat Comerford warned that the College could not count 4-H members very accurately. Dr. Etherton's initial response was "really? - it can't be that complicated!". It turned out the College system for keeping accurate track of the number was not even close to being accurate and that the fee had been underestimated. Although this had repercussions over the subsequent years, the 4-H Horse Program Development Committee donated funds to cover the budget shortfall, much to their credit. With the program fee in place, two talented extension equine associates, Lew Trumble and Bethany Bickel, were hired. Their dedication, talent and hard work has been instrumental in helping the 4-H Horse Program sustain and grow the excellence for which it has always been known. When Pat Comerford retired, the Department was fortunate to eventually convince Andrea Kocher to assume the position. Her talents and expertise are remarkable and continue to provide strong leadership and vision to the program.

Poultry Program

Pennsylvania Poultry Industry Research Check-Off Program

As a result of major federal funding agencies (e.g., U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation) targeting their support towards basic/fundamental research, along with the poultry, feed, and allied industries tightening their belts with regard to the support of university research, funding for applied poultry research has declined significantly over the past 30 years. In an attempt to address this funding shortfall and to ensure that Pennsylvania maintained a sound research base to support its poultry industry, Dr. William Weaver, Head of the Department of Poultry Science, held discussions with Pennsylvania Poultry Federation members in 1994 to explore the establishment of a Pennsylvania Poultry Industry Research Check-Off Program. His efforts were positively received by the industry and, one year later, 15 companies agreed to establish a voluntary check-off Program in which they agreed to contribute 10 cents per ton assessed on all feed fed to poultry in Pennsylvania. Over the years, several companies have withdrawn from this program due to financial reasons or consolidation in the industry, while others have joined. At present, a total of approximately $35,000 per year is being generated for applied poultry research by the generous contributions of seven companies. Cumulatively, the Pennsylvania Poultry Industry Research Check-Off Program has awarded over $1.5 million to Penn State faculty members since its inception in 1995. In addition to providing researchers with precious financial support aimed at attenuating challenges while identifying new opportunities for the Pennsylvania poultry industry, the Program has provided the supporting companies with a direct portal into Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and the Department of Animal Science, thus facilitating relationships that transcend the research process.

Biosecurity/Avian Influenza Initiative

In 2015, the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Department of Animal Science began an advocacy effort to procure an appropriation from the Pennsylvania General Assembly to provide funding for a "Biosecurity/Avian Influenza Initiative." At the time, it was evident to stakeholders in the Pennsylvania poultry industry that, together, the College and Department played an important role in the Commonwealth as a provider of expertise on avian flu, especially for emergency responses. It also was clear that our capability to respond to an avian influenza outbreak in the Commonwealth had diminished, due both to modest increases in the State appropriation to the College and to inflation. Thus, a process was launched to create and submit an appropriation request to the Governor's office and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to seek funding to enhance avian health programs at Penn State.

There is a prescriptive process for seeking new funding from the General Assembly that entails crafting the budget request (and rationale) in the College and submitting it to the President of Penn State for his review and, hopefully, approval. If approved, the President and colleagues in Penn State's Government and Community office then manage the advocacy efforts with the General Assembly with the goal being to garner sufficient political support to have the funds appropriated. The Dean of the College also is permitted to publicly advocate for budget requests such as these. Department Heads are not permitted to do this, at least not publicly.

After much discussion with Departments Heads and leaders in the College who were quite interested in having their ideas included in the appropriation request, the Dean decided to ask the legislature for $2,750,000 in annual reoccurring funds. Leadership in Old Main approved this and included it in the University budget request to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The submission of the University's budget request to the General Assembly is always followed by extensive and intensive advocacy efforts. In addition to Penn State's efforts, PennAg Industries (on behalf of the poultry industry) was instrumental in the advocacy campaign. Success was achieved and a $2,000,000 appropriation was approved by the General Assembly and the Governor in 2016.

The Department had sought funding in the appropriation request to fill two tenure-track faculty positions in poultry science extension, applied research, and teaching. One faculty position, advertised as Assistant Professor of Poultry Science, with responsibilities in the area of poultry production and management. The other faculty position was advertised as Assistant Professor of Poultry Science and Avian Health. In the latter position we were seeking to hire an individual with both Ph.D. and a DVM degrees. The Department initiated the process to advertise the faculty positions and subsequently conduct on-campus interviews with the top candidates. In 2017, Dr. Gino Lorenzoni was hired to assume the avian health position and in 2018 Dr. John Boney was hired to fill the production and management position.

The hiring of Drs Boney and Lorenzoni together with investments made in other Departments in the College has enhanced the College's ability to provide timely and adequate assistance to the Pennsylvania poultry industry whenever a health concern emerges.

Dorset Production Sale

Historically, the Department maintained an elite flock of Dorset sheep and had experienced great success in showing Penn State sheep at various shows in the United States. Much of the success of the sheep program was due to the expertise and hard work of Dick Kuzemchak who was the Shepherd at the Penn State Beef/Sheep Center. In the mid-2000's it was recognized that the Department could not continue to financially support a large flock of Dorset sheep and devote time and money to taking them to many sheep shows in the United States. The decision was made to have a production sale on April 22, 2006 to downsize the flock to about 50 ewes. Much planning was devoted to the sale, which was held at Ag Arena. The sale was a huge success: 228 lots sold for an average of $1238. The 2006 Production Sale was organized with the assistance of a livestock merchandizing class and sheep student employees and attracted 124 buyers from 22 states and Puerto Rico. Gary Saylor of Saylor Sale Management, Belle Center, OH was hired to manage the sale. Gary was assisted by Bill Jones, Research Analyst in the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology at Purdue University.

At the time, the revenue generated from the sale was a record for the sheep industry. Laurie Hubbard, who was the Assistant Shepherd at the time, worked tirelessly with Dick and the students to make the sale a resounding success! The Department was fortunate to have a superb management team overseeing the Sheep Farm. Dick retired in 2009 after 38 years of employment at the Penn State Sheep Farm. He was inducted in the Pennsylvania Livestock Hall of Fame in 2019, which speaks volumes about his stature in the livestock industry, both in the Commonwealth and nationally.

In 2021, the Penn State sheep flock consists of about 75 mature ewes, half Dorset and half black faced crossbred ewes. The flock continues to play an important role in the Department's teaching, research, and extension programs, all of which support Pennsylvania's sheep industry.

The Creation of the Reproductive Biology Initiative

In 2004, it was evident that the Department needed to increase its presence in basic discovery research. Dr. Gary Killian who was a highly regarded reproductive biologist in the Department at that time championed the idea of increasing the Department's presence in reproductive biology. The rationale was that the Department had a long and storied history in reproductive biology research, extension, and teaching. Multiple conversations with Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Dairy and Animal Science, Dr. Killian and Dr. Robert Elkin, Head of the Department of Poultry Science led to the idea of hiring multiple faculty with expertise in reproductive biology in the two Departments. This was the origin of what came to be called the Reproductive Biology Initiative (RBI).

An important impetus for focusing on reproductive biology was the presence of the Almquist Research Center (ARC), which was a world class facility for studying large animal reproduction. The ability to have animal and laboratory facilities at the same location offered special opportunities for large animal research. The barn facilities at ARC could house not only dairy cows and bulls but also other species. In addition, having suitable facilities and a large herd of dairy cows at the Department's dairy farm was an important resource. Early discussions also focused on the strong belief in conveying an absolute commitment to building a great program and the best way to convey this to prospective candidates was to advertise several tenure-track faculty positions at one time. Thus, the concept of a "cluster hire" was pursued, which was not common at the time. The goal was to hire six new faculty and a process was started to "find" open faculty positions at Penn State since these did not exist in either Department. During this period, Dr. Etherton had been actively championing the idea that the Department needed new faculty positions to reflect the rapid enrollment growth in the undergraduate major since he started as Head in 1998. This led to a series of communications with Dr. Rod Erickson who was the Provost advocating the need to provide additional faculty positions. Surprisingly, Dr. Erickson provided funding for two faculty positions. Dr. Robert Steele, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, was convinced to provide three additional open faculty positions (two of these positions were obtained from another academic unit in the College with considerable opposition from the Department losing the positions). In addition, the C. Lee Rumberger and Family Chair in Agricultural Sciences, which was to have been in the Department from the creation of this endowed Chair position in the College, was returned to the Department after some "texture-filled" conversations with College leadership.

The response to our cluster ad was fabulous and the search committee had many applications to review. The interview process began in 2005 and over the next two years, seven faculty positions were filled. Faculty joining (and their start date) the Department of Dairy and Animal Science were: Dr. Troy Ott (May 2006), Dr. Wansheng Liu (May 1, 2007), Dr. Jon Oatley (June 1, 2007) and Dr. Joy Pate (March 2008 as the C. Lee Rumberger and Family Chair in Agricultural Sciences). Faculty joining the Department of Poultry Science were: Dr. Paul Bartell (August 2007), Dr. Francisco Diaz (February 2008) and Dr. Alan Johnson (as the Walther H. Ott Professor in Avian Biology). Filling the seventh position was possible because Dr. Robert Elkin used the Ott Professorship to recruit Dr. Johnson from the University of Notre Dame.

Shortly after Dr. Pate joined the Department, she and the other reproductive biologists proposed creating the Center for Reproductive Biology and Health (CRBH) as a Center in the Huck Institute of the Life Sciences. The Huck Institute of the Life Sciences was established in 1996 to enhance and facilitate excellence in interdisciplinary research and training in the life sciences across Penn State. It involves nine Colleges and 33 Research Institutes and Centers of Excellence. The CRBH became a reality in 2008 with Dr. Pate as the Chair of the Center. The CRBH now has members from faculty in other Colleges at Penn State, including Hershey Medical Center, and enjoys a national and international reputation.

Undergraduate Student Activities

Nittany Lion Fall Classic

The Nittany Lion Fall Classic consignment sale has been one of the Penn State Dairy Science Club's signature events since 1984. The sale was established through the efforts of club adviser Dr. Lawrence Muller and Bill Nichol of the Pennsylvania Holstein Association (PHA) who shared a vision for providing students with hands-on opportunities in dairy cattle marketing through a consignment sale of high-quality registered animals. Since its inception, the sale has remained a true partnership between Dairy Science Club members and PHA, with Penn State students being responsible for almost all aspects of the sale under the watchful guidance and assistance of PHA staff members and Dairy Science Club advisers. Student chairs are elected each year by club members and are responsible for coordinating efforts in selecting consignments, animal preparation, and marketing. In addition to Muller and Nichol, Ken Raney and David Lentz of PHA and Dairy Science Club advisers Dale Olver and Chad Dechow have been instrumental in maintaining the sale's traditions and continuity. Another key contributor has been Dr. Lester Griel through his role as veterinarian and coordination of animal health documentation. No discussion of the Fall Classic would be complete without mentioning retired dairyman Creedin Cornman's long-time mentorship of students throughout sale week.

The Fall Classic is one of the longest-running club sales in the nation, with the 2020 edition marking the 37th year for the event. Over its history, more than 2,700 lots of high-quality cattle from outstanding breeders have sold for a total exceeding six million dollars and an average price of $2,210. To date, the highest individual consignment price is $26,000 for a first-choice female offered in the 2009 sale. The highest individual sale average is the $4,106 mark achieved in 2008 during the 25th anniversary sale chaired by Nathan Heim. This special event marked a quarter-century of Fall Classics and honored its founders and previous sale chairs.

Throughout its tenure, the Fall Classic has seen some interesting changes. In 1995, Jerseys became the first breed to be added to the usual Holstein lineup. More recently, Guernseys, Brown Swiss, and even a Waygu have made appearances in the catalog. The sale has been streamed live through cowbuyer.com since 2016, making it more convenient for bidders from across the U.S. to appreciate the Fall Classic consignments. For example, although most of the animals offered in 2019 and 2020 remained in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, buyers' lists also included individuals from California, Idaho, Utah, Georgia, Vermont, Maine, and Canada.

For over three decades the Fall Classic has featured students working together to make each sale a success. The opportunities to develop skills such as leadership, communications, and teamwork while marketing high-quality cattle have made the Nittany Lion Fall Classic one of the best hands-on learning experiences for past and future Dairy Science Club members.

Susquehanna Service Dogs and the Department

When Dr. Etherton assumed the position of Department Head in 1998, he began attending a yearly meeting of Animal Science, Dairy Science and Poultry Science department heads from across the country. An agenda item at one meeting was to share perspectives about what attendees' thought were key strategic areas to pursue in the future. Dr. Etherton recognized that animal science was much more than research, teaching and extension programs that emphasized cattle, pigs, and sheep. In part, this reflected the fact that the Department had the Deer Pens and a Horse Farm. It also was evident to colleagues in the Department that a significant and growing proportion of students entering the undergraduate major wanted to go to veterinary school and specialize in small animal medicine. So, at a few of the national department head meetings, Dr. Etherton shared his vision for the need for and importance of teaching classes that focused on various aspects of health, management and behavior of dogs and cats. A humorous aspect of this story is that many of the department heads from states with a large beef cattle industry thought that having an animal science department offer classes on dogs and cats was "nuts". Some of them went out of their way to point out that Dr. Etherton just didn't understand the real mission of "animal science" departments. That deterred neither Dr. Etherton nor his colleagues at PSU!

In discussions with colleagues, notably Drs. Gabriella Varga and Harold Harpster, the Department decided to begin offering undergraduate classes that focused on dogs and cats, resulting in the creation of a "Small Animal" Science undergraduate program. In 2004 Dr. Nancy Dreschel, who had a DVM degree from Cornell and was finishing a Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Health at Penn State, was hired. Nancy had great expertise in small animal medicine and her research interests included studying human-animal interactions, particularly the behavior and welfare of the animals in these relationships.

After Dr. Dreschel joined the faculty there was an upsurge in interest by prospective students who were passionate about dogs and cats and wanted to be a small animal veterinarians. Presently, about one-third of the students entering the Animal Science major indicate that their species of preference is dogs and cats. Interestingly, another one-third lists horses as their preference, which supports the view that contemporary animal science departments no longer have a majority of undergraduate students who have as their primary interest focused on cows, sheep, or pigs.

One of the more visible programs that Dr. Dreschel started was one that involved students raising puppies to become service dogs. The program involved a partnership with Susquehanna Service Dogs (SSD) (located in Grantville, PA). Beginning with three dogs and three undergraduate students in August 2014, a total of 70 puppies have been or are currently being raised by nearly 60 students at University Park, 7 State College area community families, and numerous other "puppy sitters" (trained in puppy care and training) who care for pups when the full-time raisers are unable to do so. Dogs raised in this program have graduated to work as service dogs for individuals with disabilities, facility dogs working in schools and courtrooms, drug detection dogs for the CIA and law enforcement, and breeders for the program. Dogs discharged from the program remain with their raisers or are adopted out to a waiting list of community members. Student graduates of the program continue in careers in veterinary medicine, agriculture, human services, dog training, and the military. Because of SSD policy, many have befriended and remain in contact with the partners with whom their dogs were matched, allowing them to witness the impact that their dogs make on the lives of others. While the COVID-19 pandemic limited in-person training and classes, puppy raisers continued to work with their dogs at home and participated in remote training classes with Susquehanna Service Dog trainers until in-person classroom instruction resumed.

Watching the growth of this program has been tremendously rewarding. The puppies, fitted with a colorful vest that identifies them as part of the training program, go everywhere with their puppy raiser, including to classes, and many live in dorms on campus. This is possible because under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), state and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals "in training" to have access to a wide range of facilities.

As one can imagine, having puppies on campus quickly caught the attention of the media and over the years several newspaper articles have been published and TV segments have been broadcast. The result has been not only having a program that does "greater good" for society but one that has clearly shown that animal science is a career with multiple options for our students to pursue. The effect of this has been to enhance the Department's visibility and increase student interest in attending Penn State.

Partnership with the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine

In 2012, Dr. Etherton received an email from Dr. Neil Evans, Professor of Integrative Physiology at the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine in Scotland. Neil and his colleague Joyce Wason, who was Director of Admissions & Student Services Manager at their School of Veterinary Medicine, were interested in establishing a study abroad/facilitated Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVMS) entry system for Department of Animal Science undergraduate students who might be interested in getting their DVM degree at the University of Glasgow. Many subsequent conversations with Advising Coordinator Jana Peters, Senior Instructor Bob Mikesell, and other colleagues at Penn State led to the signing of a formal agreement with a start date of 2015.

This program, known as the 3+1+4 system, was of great interest because the total time spent in school (8 years) is the same as the traditional vet school route. However, there was a distinct advantage in having a guaranteed entry into vet school. In addition, the program allowed students at Penn State to enroll in the University of Glasgow's School of Veterinary Medicine before their final year at Penn State. After successfully completing their senior year (while attending vet school) they receive a B.S. degree from Penn State while continuing to pursue their Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVMS) degree. An important aspect of the program is that the University of Glasgow is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association; hence, the BVMS degree is equivalent to the DVM in the U.S. To date, five students have taken advantage of the opportunity. Shannon Ryan pioneered the program and began studying in Fall 2016. Meghan Thomas followed in Fall of 2017; Annya Kossol and Sarah Pistole began in 2020 and studied remotely because of COVID; Lily Baughrer will begin in the Fall of 2021. The program is now part of the Global Programs Office at Penn State, after having operated via a Memorandum of Understanding within the College of Agricultural Sciences. This move allows easier access to U.S. student aid for the first year in Glasgow. This was the first time that a program like this had been established at Penn State, and the Department is delighted to offer students this pathway to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine.

Student Industry Tour

To help undergraduate students who are new to Penn State gain insight into Pennsylvania's large and diverse animal agriculture sector, Dr. Etherton and Dr. Erskine Cash (now both Professors Emeriti) initiated an industry tour for students in 1998. When Jana Peters became advising coordinator in 1999, she took over the leadership of the tour with dedicated assistance from Mike O'Connor (now Professor Emeritus of Dairy Science) and Phil Clauer, Assistant Teaching Professor, Poultry Science, who ensured that students visited the highest quality facilities in the state. With the exception of the first year, the Industry Tour was a one-day bus trip to a different region of the Commonwealth. The tour featured visits to a variety of agricultural enterprises as well as presentations by industry leaders, all designed to allow students to get to know each other and the faculty while highlighting the possibilities in selecting courses and choosing career options. Many local newspapers covered the visit to their community, creating valuable publicity for the Department!

Though discontinued in 2018, the 20-year program was valuable to many students as they began their college career at Penn State. Participants developed a deeper understanding of the vitality and diversity of the industry in the Commonwealth. The cooperation of agricultural leaders throughout the state made it a very successful collaboration and expanded outreach for faculty and students.

Poultry and Avian Science (PAS) Minor

Following the decision made by the College to discontinue the Poultry Technology and Management Major in the early 2000s, Dr. Robert Elkin, then Head of the Department of Poultry Science, led the establishment of a minor in Poultry and Avian Science (PAS) in 2005. The minor requires students to complete three prescribed courses (Introduction to Avian Biology, Poultry Production and Management, and Principles of Avian Diseases) plus several elective courses, totaling 18 credits. The PAS Minor is popular and currently there are 15 students enrolled. To date, a total of 106 undergraduates from nine different majors within and beyond the College of Agricultural Sciences have graduated with the minor. Most of these graduates have either pursued further education in graduate or veterinary school or obtained positions in the poultry or allied industries.

Department Judging Teams

Judging teams continue to be a valuable part of the education of undergraduate students in Animal Science. Participation on teams helps students learn to process and evaluate information and make decisive decisions while learning to communicate effectively through oral and written presentations. Students enhance their ability to make judgments, learn to organize their thoughts, and present results in a comprehensive, clear manner.

Judging team participation allows students to travel and meet with peers from other universities across the United States. Penn State teams have traditionally fared well in competitions throughout the country, consistently placing at the top or near the top. These clubs attract the support of alumni and industry to provide them with funds to travel and offer networking with leaders. Generous gifts have led to the creation of endowments to help cover team travel and lodging expenses. From livestock, dairy, equestrian and poultry judging teams, to meat and meat animal evaluations and the North American Dairy Challenge management event, students have acquired valuable expertise as they prepare for their careers.

The Penn State Dairy Cattle Judging Team has established a tradition of excellence and currently ranks second among all universities for all-time winning percentage at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest as calculated by Hoard's Dairyman. Each year the team travels to contests at Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, MA, the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, PA, and the World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. The team placed first nationally in 2007, 2012, and 2017 in the National Intercollegiate Contest and recorded runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2019.

In 2020, the Penn State Team placed first in a national quadrathlon held by the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), though all their preparation was done virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They qualified to participated by winning the Northeast Student Affiliate (NESA) competition.

Between 2013 and 2019, Penn State poultry judging teams placed first or second in national collegiate poultry contests, establishing an exceptional record of achievement.

In 2014, Jonathan Campbell, Extension Meat Specialist, initiated a competition for both graduate and undergraduate teams to compete against meat science programs from around the country. Their dedication paid off when graduate students took first place in the 2018 competition held in conjunction with the American Association of Meat Processors convention.

Judging teams supported by the Department of Animal Science include:

  • Meats Judging
  • Dairy Challenge
  • Dairy Judging
  • Livestock Judging
  • Horse Judging
  • Poultry Judging
  • ASAS Academic Quadrathlon

National Collegiate Beef Quiz Bowl Team

Penn State students have won the National Collegiate Beef Quiz Bowl more times than any other university - 12 times in the contest's 25 years. They placed second nine times.

"Over the years, the great success of the Penn State Beef Quiz Bowl was the source of much angst by universities in states that had a large beef cattle industry. They had a difficult time accepting the fact that a university East of the Missssiopi River could keep doing so well We were accused of having a special course that focused on training students for the Beef Quiz Bowl, which was not true. Our success reflected the hard work of colleagues who prepared the teams for competitions and a keen sense of the legacy of Penn State teams by our students who worked very hard to succeed. It also helped that our students were remarkably bright and loved to compete.

I will never forget the aftermath of the 2000 Penn State team winning the championship. That was the frst time that a team comprised of women won the contest! We were elated at this accomplishment. At the time, diversity at some schools in some regions of the US was not as valued as what Penn State embraced. It was also fun for me to tease some friends at these Universities to point out that none of the team members on the 2000 team grew up on a beef cattle farm!"

Terry Etherton

Introduced in 1993, this event was designed to develop future leaders through industry-oriented education and competition. Teams that placed first at four regional competitions held throughout the United States advanced to the final competition at the annual Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) trade show. The format of the national quiz bowl is a double elimination competition, the questions encompassing a wide range of beef industry issues including nutrition, physiology, meat science, genetics, and current events. Animal Science Advising Coordinator Jana Peters, Assistant Professor of Animal Science Dan Kniffen, and Assistant Teaching Professor Dale Olver prepared the team for the competitions. Prior to their retirements, Dr. Erskine Cash, Professor of Animal Science, and Dr. Harold Harpster, Professor of Animal Science, were dynamically involved in coaching the team. The event was discontinued in 2018.

Penn State's Leadership in the Dairy Challenge

The North American Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) was established in 2002 as a dairy management contest for universities that had undergraduate dairy science programs. Since its inception, the NAIDC has grown to include four regional contests and a Dairy Academy, all designed to prepare students for careers in the diverse dairy industry.

The late Dr. Larry Muller, Professor and advisor to the Penn State Dairy Science Club, was an early advocate for establishing the NAIDC. He greatly valued the program, taking students to the first national contest. His enthusiasm led him to join the national board, serving as national chair from 2007-2009. Penn State hosted national events in 2004 and 2005, and regional events in 2008 and 2016. Dr. Muller's leadership and influence in founding and supporting NAIDC was recognized when he was presented posthumously with the Founders Award in 2018.

Dr. Lisa Holden, Associate Professor of Dairy Science, continues to prepare students for both the regional and national events. When Dr. Muller was recognized, she said, "Larry was a cornerstone in building the foundation for Dairy Challenge and a tremendous advocate." Early in his leadership, Dr. Muller said, in part, "Prior to the development of Dairy Challenge, few students were exposed to actual farm business evaluations and industry-related programs. This program, although focused on students and teaching….. has had an impact on educational institutions and agribusinesses, forcing them to re-evaluate how they approach farms and farm businesses."

With a primary goal of developing tomorrow's leaders and enhancing the progress of the dairy industry, the innovative event provides practical education, communication and networking among students, producers and agribusiness and university personnel. Over its history the NAIDC has prepared thousands of students for careers as farm owners and managers, researchers, veterinarians, and other dairy professions.

Undergraduate Student Clubs

Student clubs have long been an integral part of the undergraduate education in the Department of Animal Science, offering the opportunity for socialization and leadership development while providing academic and professional experience. Participation in club activities brings a wealth of possibilities for students to gain a broader appreciation of the agricultural community while working closely with fellow students, faculty, and staff. In many ways, these out-of-the classroom learning opportunities are as important as classes.

The student clubs overseen by the Department include:

The Dairy Science Club

The Dairy Science Club, the largest and one of the most active in the Department, has been offering undergraduate students a club experience since the early days of the Department of Dairy Husbandry. It has gained national recognition as the Outstanding Chapter of the American Dairy Science Association Student Affiliate Division (ADSA-SAD) 14 times from 2000-2019 for the breadth and excellence of its activities.

Membership in the club is open to all Penn State students who have an interest in the dairy industry. The club's major emphasis is placed on promotion, educational, and service events. Its many activities over the years have included the Nittany Lion Fall Classic Holstein Consignment Sale, the Holiday Cheesebox Sale, Dairy Days Cow Camp, Meet-a-Cow Day, Spring Judging Contest, Spring Bargain Fling for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and the Osteochallenge Walk/Run. Two of the longest-running events have been the Spring Judging Contest for 4-H and FFA members and the Penn State Dairy Expo. The Dairy Exposition fitting and showmanship competition began in 1922 and has been held in various location across campus, including the Penn State dairy barns, the current Pavilion Theater building (this building was previously a stock pavilion), and, most recently, the Snider Ag Arena. In 2001, the Little International sponsored by Block and Bridle Club was combined with the Dairy Exposition to make it more convenient for alumni to attend both events, and since then the shows have continued to be held on the same day. While the joint events were put on hold during 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, they resumed in 2021 in a slightly modified format to meet Penn State health and social distancing guidelines.

One of the key focal points for Dairy Science Club members has been assisting dairy youth. In addition to the Spring Judging Contest, the club has worked with state breed associations to offer additional educational opportunities. Since the late 1980's, club members have partnered with the Pennsylvania Holstein Association (PHA) to coordinate the state's Holstein quiz bowl competition. Students help write questions, moderate, time, and score the contest. When Dairy Jeopardy was introduced by PHA to their state junior Holstein convention in the early 2000's, Dairy Science Club members assumed the management of that event. In most years, over 150 youth compete in these two contests. The club also works with the Pennsylvania Guernsey Breeders Association and the Pennsylvania Jersey Cattle Association to sponsor quiz bowl or jeopardy contests at their state conventions.

Along with the Fall Classic, the Holiday Cheesebox Sale is one of the club's primary fundraising activities. Since the late 1970's, the club has partnered with Berkey Creamery to assemble and ship boxes across the nation in early December. In recent years, members have sold over 2,000 cheeseboxes. Funds raised from the Cheesebox Sale and the Nittany Lion Fall Classic help finance other club events, most notably the annual spring trip.

Spring trips have become treasured learning opportunities for students who participate. The tradition of traveling within the United States one year and to another country the following year has brought expanded insights into the global dairy industry and the culture of different areas of the US and around the world. Travel destinations within the United States have included California, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Washington/Oregon and Nevada/ Utah. International travel has included trips to New Zealand, Ireland, Argentina, Italy, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and Switzerland/Austria. During each trip club members visit dairy farms, agricultural industries, and cultural sites. For many, these trips are their first experiences traveling to the western United States or internationally. Club members also have the opportunity to travel to the American Dairy Science Association meetings each year and to the annual NESA (Northeast Student Affiliate of ASAS/ADSA) competitions.

The Dairy Science Club has maintained a legacy of excellence for decades by introducing new events, modifying existing activities, and building on strong traditions. This has allowed Penn State students to benefit from a wide variety of educational opportunities and to find a sense of community among other club members.

Penn State Block and Bridle Club

The premier livestock and horse club on campus, the Block and Bridle (B&B) Club welcomes members from a variety of backgrounds and majors, all of whom have one thing in common: a true advocacy and love for the animal science industry. Activities throughout the year include educational, service, and social events.

One of the longest-running activities is their sponsorship of the Little International Livestock Exposition, an annual tradition that started in 1917. This fitting and showing competition allows students to care for and prepare an animal for the show and offers a unique time to gather with alumni in fellowship. In 2001, the Little International was combined with the Dairy Exposition, another student-run activity. That year was the 84th Little I and the 76th Dairy Expo and was called the Dairy & Animal Science Alumni Weekend. Both shows have continued to be held on the same day.

As an affiliate of the National Block and Bridle Club, club members attend the national convention and have received national recognition over the years, frequently placing first or second in the nation for chapter activities, webpage, and scrapbook. Individual members have often been recognized as "outstanding" students nationally.

Regular member meetings are held the first and third Thursday of each month during the academic year. Members are often involved in a variety of other clubs on Ag Hill and provide leadership at statewide events like the Keystone International Livestock Exposition, Pennsylvania Farm Show and judging contests.

Along with the Dairy Science Club, Block and Bridle members participate in the North East Student Affiliate (NESA) program, judging livestock classes, giving oral presentations, and competing as a team at the quiz bowl.

One interesting activity that has attracted media attention is the "Blood for Bats" project. This involves club members collecting and packaging beef blood at the Department's Meat Lab for use as a food source for the vampire bat colony at the Philadelphia Zoo. Vampire bats only consume bovine blood, and Penn State is the zoo's sole source provider. It is a great project for students with interests beyond traditional livestock.

Every year the club participates in a campus event titled Ag Day, offering the chance for all students to be exposed to a cross section of conventional agriculture. Block and Bridle sets up several displays using livestock for students to observe and ask questions. It is a great opportunity for club members to share some of the information they have acquired in class and to engage a broader cross section of students to authentic animal agriculture.

Penn State Poultry Science Club

One of the most active clubs in the College of Agricultural Sciences, the Penn State Poultry Science Club promotes the study of the avian species and enhances members' understanding of the poultry industry. The Club has been named National "Club of the Year" and members have been named "Student of the Year" at the US Poultry College Program multiple times over the years. They have placed first in the national scrapbook competition 24 times in the past 26 years. Club members have represented Penn State at the national collegiate poultry judging contests, and the team and individual students have consistently placed in the top five at both the spring and fall national contests.

A highlight for members is to attend the International Poultry Exposition in Atlanta, GA, where they explore company and equipment exhibits from around the world and have an opportunity to interview for a wide variety of internships and full-time employment with over 50 poultry and allied poultry companies. Over 600 students from nearly 40 universities participate, so it presents an outstanding opportunity for networking. The event is hosted by the US Poultry and Egg Association (USPEA) and the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE).

Another highlight for club members is the annual "Turkey Sale" where the club works together to catch, process, package, and sell around 400 turkeys the week prior to Thanksgiving to raise between $12,000-$15,000 for the club annually to help fund club trips and other functions.

The club is extremely active. They volunteer to help in the food booth sponsored by PennAg Industries Association at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Their main community service projects are creating and donating 80 Easter baskets to the State College Food Bank and a silent auction at their annual celebration banquet to raise funds for "Heifer International".

The club participates in the Penn State Homecoming Parade, takes an industry educational tour every spring and fall semester, and has taken embedded international trips to the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. Throughout the semester, club meetings often include speakers who discuss the industry and promote employment opportunities.

The Penn State Poultry Science Club is an organization that is dynamically engaged with activities to foster socialization, education, and networking. The club prides itself in the success of their members, and they intend to uphold the high standards set by past clubs so future graduates flourish in their professional lives.

The Collegiate Horseman's Association of Penn State (CHAPS)

The Collegiate Horseman's Association of Penn State (CHAPS) is the American Collegiate Horseman's Association chapter at Penn State and is an undergraduate student club for Penn State equine enthusiasts. Member numbers are typically 40 to 50 students per semester. Members participate in many horse-related activities such as therapeutic riding, horse rescue, clinics, expositions, horse shows, fun shows, trail rides, and social events.

A major goal of the club is to learn while having fun and trying something new. Therefore, there is a wide array of club activities ranging from clinics, conventions, field trips, community service activities, fund raisers and social events. The major fundraiser for the organization is the annual Penn State foal calendar which is produced using photos of the foals born at the Penn State Horse Farm.

Small and Exotic Animal Club

The purpose of the Penn State Small & Exotic Animal Club (SEAC) is to promote responsible pet ownership, increase education about small and exotic animal topics among the students at the university and in the community, and provide students with animal-oriented volunteer opportunities in the community. Open to any student wishing to learn about companion and exotic animals and the human-animal bond, the club sponsors speakers and volunteer opportunities and draws a diverse student population with varied interest in pets and learning about career opportunities. Originally chartered in 1990 as the Students for the Responsible Use of Animals (SRUA), the name was changed to the Small and Exotic Animal Club to reflect the more specific interest of students in companion animal and exotic animal species. Through the years, volunteer activities have included assisting at local animal shelters, rescue facilities, and wildlife rehabilitation facilities; assisting at dog agility trials on campus; visiting local nursing homes with area residents' pets; educating the public about animal welfare topics at the petting farm exhibit of the Pennsylvania Farm Show; and fund-raising for animal rescues and service dog organizations. Trips to zoos, aquariums, museums, working dog facilities, university laboratory animal facilities, and veterinary schools have been highlights of the spring semester. These latter trips have provided club members with opportunities to visit Boston, MA; Front Royal, VA; Washington, DC; St. Petersburg, FL; Baltimore, MD, Six Flags, NJ; Pittsburgh, PA; and Philadelphia, PA. With representation on the Ag Student Council, club members actively participate in College educational and networking activities as well.

Penn State Collegiate Cattlewomen

The Penn State Collegiate Cattlewomen (CCW) Club was organized by a group of female students in November of 2008. Their purpose is to promote beef production and nutrition to college students and the general public through the development of beef promotional activities, educational events, and any and all other activities that will accomplish the goals and objectives of the group. Additionally, the group hoped to promote a higher scholastic standard and a more complete understanding of the cattle industry, and to bring about a closer relationship among women pursuing a B.S. degree in animal science and the cattle industry. One of the smaller clubs in the Department, membership is now open to all students on campus.

The group is loosely affiliated with the American National Cattlewomen (ANCW) and members regularly attend their annual meeting. They have also participated in several activities of ANCW. They have hosted an event on campus every year since their inception, Meat-in-Day, initiated in response to a Meat-Out-Day hosted by the university dining commons. The club wanted to remind students about of the importance of keeping animal-based proteins in their diet. Additionally, the club recently established a very well received cattle school for youth teaching them about cattle production and management.

For students looking for the opportunity to participate in an undergraduate student club where they can become acquainted with all of the members, CCW is a great option.

Penn State Equine Research Team

The Penn State Equine Research Team (PSERT) was formed in 2008 by Dr. Burt Staniar to provide undergraduate students opportunities to be involved in equine research. It was the first official undergraduate equine research team in the nation. Open to all students interested in the health and performance of the horse, the club offers opportunities to experience equine research and gain a better comprehension of the "real world" of equine research while providing a setting for informal and enlightening discussion of equine science. A central tenet for PSERT is the idea that research is best accomplished by a team, a group of individuals that work together, combining their diverse strengths, to accomplish a common goal. Over the years, many of this club's accomplishments have focused on working together as a team, a special skill that alumni carry into their careers and lives. Founded in 2008, PSERT has addressed a myriad of equine research topics. Addressing each of these involves background research, hypothesis development, experimental design, identification of funding, conducting the experiment, analysis of collected samples and results, preparing reports, and finally communication of the findings to the public. Members of the team learn by being a part of each step and learn about the rigor and hard work that are critical to conducting high quality research.

A sampling of the topics the team has researched include:

  • Characterization and comparison of growth curves for draft horses, ponies, and light horse breeds
  • Inter-animal variation in glycemic and insulinemic response to different carbohydrate sources
  • Biomarkers of cartilage metabolism and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) as influenced by dietary starch
  • High-glycemic meal responses and meal feeding affect fundamental components of the somatotropic axis in Quarter Horse weanlings
  • Diet influences on the equine metabolome
  • Length of labor associated with mare and foal bonding behavior
  • Colts taking more time to stand and nurse compared to fillies
  • Gender trends in agriculture

The club does much more than simply conduct research. They have organized undergraduate research symposia with students at Virginia Tech, University of Florida, California State University, and the University of Kentucky. They have organized trips to the research facilities at each of these universities, but have also visited Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, MD and industry research facilities like Kentucky Equine Research in Versailles, KY.

Ultimately, this club provides a unique learning opportunity for all the students involved. It, and similar extracurricular activities in the Department of Animal Science, are critical ingredients in an educational recipe developed by the department's faculty and staff, in collaboration with students, for a rich educational experience.

Club advisers are Dr. Burt Staniar, associate professor of equine science, and Dr. Danielle Smarsh, assistant professor of equine science.

Penn State Reproduction Research Team

The Penn State Reproductive Research Team (RRT) was formed in 2011 as a way to help undergraduates who want to gain farm animal experience, learn more about reproductive biology research, and as a way to assist with estrus detection (heat checking) in research cows.

Dr. Joy Pate, professor of reproductive physiology, meets with graduate students and technicians and RRT members - approximately 30 to 45 each semester - on a monthly basis. A topic is presented by someone from the Center for Reproductive Biology and Health group, giving students a chance to learn about the reproductive research that is ongoing at Penn State. Occasionally, there are outside guest speakers, or students are assigned a reading from a scientific journal for discussion. This helps students begin to gain an appreciation of not only what kind of reproductive biology research is conducted, but how it is done and how it is brought to completion by publication in a peer-review scientific journal.

At the same time, all students sign up to participate in the heat checking activities at least one of the two semesters. The students love doing this, and they are an enormous help in observing estrus and keeping records up to date. Students are also invited to observe procedures like collection of corpora lutea (CL), and there are always a few students who take full advantage of this, often asking to observe what is done with the tissue after it is collected. Some students are accepted as volunteers in the laboratories. Those who are responsible and show a real interest in the research may be taught various procedures, such as how to culture cells or perform hormone assays, so they can get some hands-on experience in laboratory research. Many of these students go on to be hired as part-time employees in the research lab or have the chance to carry out their own research experiment.

The Research Team has been a huge success. Researchers get help with their animals and the students get animal experience. So many undergrads want to get laboratory experience, but the Department just cannot accommodate all of them. This team helps them to gain an appreciation for the research process and allows a larger number of students to observe and discuss the research. Importantly, many students use this experience to help identify career opportunities after graduation, including attending veterinary school or graduate school.

Alumni Tailgate

In 2007, Jana Peters, who oversaw our departmental undergraduate advising program and was the long-time Secretary-Treasurer of the Penn State Stockmen's Club, proposed that the Department host an annual Tailgate at a home football game. It was quickly agreed that this was a terrific idea and planning started with discussions among the alumni groups who were aligned with the Department: the Penn State Stockmen's Club, the Penn State Dairymen's Club, and the Poultry Alumni Group. It was decided to hold the tailgate at Ag Arena, with representatives from each Alumni Group giving short presentations. The Head of the Department would provide a succinct overview of programs and the attendees would enjoy a catered meal. Admission tickets were sold for the tailgate, with the added possibility of purchasing tickets to attend the football game. Attendees also had the option of watching the football game in the Ag Arena.

The Alumni Tailgate quickly became a resounding success with 225 to 250 attendees. It provided a wonderful opportunity for alumni and friends of the Department to return to campus, catch up with friends and learn what was going on in the Department. The Tailgate is currently hosted by the Department and our three alumni groups: the Penn State Stockmen's Club, the Penn State Dairymen's Club and the Equine Alumni Affiliate Alumni Group.

Faculty Retirements


Dr. Larry Muller - Professor of Dairy Science

Dr. Magdi Mashaly - Associate Professor of Poultry Science


Dr. Erskine Cash - Professor of Animal Science


Dr. William Henning - Professor of Animal Science and Extension Meat Specialist

Dr. Gary Killian - Distinguished Professor of Reproductive Biology

Dr. Roland M. Leach, Jr. - Walther H. Ott Professor in Avian Biology


Dr. Mike O'Connor - Professor of Dairy Science and Extension Dairy Specialist


Dr. Craig Baumrucker - Professor of Mammary Gland Biology

Dr. Harold Harpster - Professor of Animal Science


Dr. John Comerford - Professor of Animal Science, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist

Pat Comerford - Instructor of Animal Science, Extension Equine Specialist

Dr. Ken Kephart - Professor of Animal Science, Extension Swine Specialist

Dr. Gabriella Varga - Distinguished Professor of Animal Science


Dr. Michael Hulet - Associate Professor of Poultry Science, Extension Poultry Specialist

Dr. Ann Swinker - Associate Professor of Equine Science, Extension Equine Specialist


Dr. Alan Johnson - Walther H. Ott Professor in Avian Biology


Dr. Cooduvalli Shashikant - Associate Professor of Molecular and Developmental Biology


Dr. Jud Heinrichs - Professor of Dairy Science

Virginia Ishler - Extension Dairy Specialist

Dr. Terry Etherton - Distinguished Professor of Animal Nutrition

Faculty Resignations


Dr. Peter Tozer - Assistant Professor of Animal Science


Dr. Alan Ealy - Assistant Professor of Molecular Endocrinology/Developmental Biology

Dr. Roger Vallejo - Assistant Professor of Genomics/Bioinformatics


Dr. Nancy Diehl - Assistant Professor of Equine Science

Dr. Zhiguo Wu - Assistant Professor of Ruminant Nutrition


Dr. Cindy McKinney - Assistant Professor of Transgenic Biology

Dr. Ronald Kensinger - Professor of Animal Nutrition-Physiology


Dr. Guy F. Barbato - Associate Professor of Poultry Science


Dr. Jon Oatley - Assistant Professor of Reproductive Biology


Dr. Chris Raines - Assistant Professor of Meat Science and Technology and Extension Meat Specialist (Dr. Raines died as the result of a car wreck)


Dr. Sterling Buist - Senior Instructor of Equine Science and Extension Equine Specialist

Dr. Sara Linneen - Assistant Professor of Animal Science, Extension Swine Specialist


Dr. Teri Antilley - Senior Instructor of Equine Science and Equine Extension Specialist

Faculty Hired


Dr. Chad Dechow - Assistant Professor of Dairy Genetics


Dr. Nancy Dreschel - Instructor of Small Animal Sciences


Dr. Troy Ott - Associate Professor of Reproductive Physiology


Dr. Jon Oatley - Assistant Professor of Reproductive Physiology

Dr. Wansheng Liu - Associate Professor of Genomics

Dr. W. Burt Staniar - Assistant Professor of Equine Science

Dr. Paul A. Bartell - Assistant Professor of Avian Biology


Dr. Alexander Hristov - Associate Professor of Dairy Nutrition

Dr. Joy Pate - Professor of Reproductive Physiology and C. Lee Rumberger and Family Chair in Agricultural Sciences

Dr. Chris Raines - Assistant Professor of Meat Science and Technology and Extension Meat Specialist

Dr. Francisco J. Diaz - Assistant Professor of Avian Biology


Dr. Kevin Harvatine - Assistant Professor of Nutritional Physiology

Dr. Alan L. Johnson, - Walther H. Ott Professor in Avian Biology


Dr. Jonathan Campbell - Assistant Professor of Animal Science and Extension Meat Specialist


Dr. Sterling Buist - Senior Instructor of Equine Science and Extension Equine Specialist

Dr. Sara Linneen - Assistant Professor of Animal Science, Extension Swine Specialist


Dr. Tara Felix - Assistant Professor of Animal Science, Extension Beef Specialist

Dr. Teri Antilley - Senior Instructor of Equine Science and Equine Extension Specialist

Dr. Vivek Kapur - Professor of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (joined the Department from the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences)


Dr. Gino Lorenzoni - Assistant Professor of Poultry Science and Avian Health

Andrea Kocher - Instructor of Equine Science and Equine Extension Specialist


Dr. John Boney - Assistant Professor of Poultry Science and Vernon E. Norris Faculty Fellow of Poultry Nutrition

Dr. Danielle Smarsh - Assistant Professor of Equine Science and Equine Extension Specialist

Dr. Beth Hines - Assistant Professor of Animal Science, Extension Swine Specialist


Dr. Erika Ganda - Assistant Professor of the Food Animal Microbiome


Dr. Tae Hyun Kim - Assistant Professor of Avian Transgenic Biology

Distinguished Alumni

The list of individuals who have received the Animal Science or Dairy Science Distinguished Alumni Awards prior to 2010 can be found at:

The list below is the recipients of departmental Distinguished Alumni Awards from 2010 to the present.

Animal Science

2011 - Chester Hughes, County Extension Educator, Lancaster County, PA. BS 1977.

2012 - Jana Malot, USDA, State Grassland Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service. BS 1978.

2013 - Bob Hough, Executive Secretary/Treasurer (CEO), Red Angus Association of America; Freelance writer. BS 1982.

2014 - Dr. Lee J Johnston, Professor, Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota. BS 1982.

2015 - Jim Hogue, Founding Partner of Agri-Basics, Inc. Lancaster County. BS 1971.

2016 - Dr. Bob Goodband, Professor of Animal Science and Extension Specialist, Kansas State University. BS 1984.

2017 - Dr. Harold Harpster, Professor Emeritus, Department of Animal Science, Penn State University. BS 1971 and MS 1973.

2018 - Dr. Ted Katsigianis, Vice President of Agricultural Sciences, The Biltmore Company, Asheville, NC. MS 1975 and Ph.D. 1979.

2019 - Dr. Fred G. Garrison, DVM, Founder and Owner, Centreville Animal Hospital, Centreville, VA. BS 1967.

2020 - Karen Plaut, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. MS 1983.

2021 - Not Awarded due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Dairy Science

2011 - Clifton E. Marshall, Vice President of Production for Select Sires, Plain City, OH. BS 1966.

2012 - Logan Bower, Owner, Dairy Farm, Blain PA. BS 1982.

2013 - Dr. Thomas Jenkins, Professor Emeritus, Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Clemson University. BS 1973 and MS 1975.

2014 - Dr. Paul T. Chandler, Owner, Chandler Associates, TN. Ph.D. 1967.

2015 - Bill Moore, Owner Walmoore Holsteins, Chester County PA. BS 1957.

2016 - Dr. Chris Canale, U.S. Technology Deployment Manager, Cargill, Shippensburg, PA. Ph.D. 1989.

2017 - Eugene Schurman, Retired, Senior Extension Educator, Penn State. MS 1974.

2018 - Rodney Hissong, Co-Owner Mercer View Farms, Inc., Mercersberg, PA. BS 1998.

2019 - Dr. Larry E. Chase, Professor Emeritus, Dairy Nutrition, Cornell University. Ph.D. 1975.

2020 - Rob Barley, Owner, Star Rock Farms, Conestoga, PA. B 1991.

2021 - Not Awarded due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Poultry Science

With the merger of the Department of Poultry Science and the Department of Dairy and Animal Science in 2012, a Poultry Science Distinguished Alumnus Award was started in 2013.

2013 - Dr. Herbert Siegel, Professor and Head of the Department of Poultry Science (1984 to 1991) and retired in 1997. BS, MS, Ph.D.

2014 - Dr. Michael Lilburn, Professor, Department of Animal Science, Ohio State University. MS and Ph.D. 1981.

2015 - Dr. Thomas Zeigler, CEO and Chairman of the Board Emeritus, Zeigler Bros, Inc. Gardners, PA. BS 1952.

2016 - Dr. Bill Weaver, Professor and Head, Department of Animal Science, Penn State University 1991-1998.

2017 - Dr. Joseph B. Hess, Extension Specialist and Professor, Department of Poultry Science, Auburn University.

2018 - James L. Adams, former Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, The Wenger Group and former Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Wenger's Feed Mill, Inc., Rheems, PA. BS 1980 and MBA 1997.

2019 - John Menges, Eastern Regional Manager, Best Veterinary Solutions, Inc. BS 1985.

2020 - Not Awarded due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

2021 - Not Awarded due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Distinguished Professors and Endowed Chairs

Distinguished Professors

Terry Etherton Distinguished Professor of Animal Nutrition (1996-2021)

Alex Hristov Distinguished Professor of Dairy Nutrition (2019-present)

Gary Killian Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Reproductive Physiology (2001-2006)

Gabriella Varga Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Animal Science (2001-2013)

Endowed Chairs

Alan Johnson Walther H. Ott Professor Emeritus in Avian Biology (2009-2018)

Joy Pate C. Lee Rumberger and Family Chair in Agricultural Sciences (2008-present)

Faculty Fellow

John Boney Vernon E. Norris Faculty Fellow of Poultry Nutrition (2018-present)

Department of Animal Science


109 AVBS Building
University Park, PA 16802

Department of Animal Science


109 AVBS Building
University Park, PA 16802