Middle Manager Conference Will Help Dairy Managers Develop Practical Skills

Posted: February 28, 2007

Dairy middle managers will have an opportunity to learn new management skills and strategies at the second annual Middle Manager's Conference planned March 21 in the Harrisburg-Hershey area.

This year, a rebate offer means that Pennsylvania dairy employees can attend the conference free of charge.

Offered by Penn State Dairy Alliance, the Middle Manager's Conference will be held at the Holiday Inn, Grantville, Pa. The conference is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and will wrap up with an opportunity for middle managers to network over refreshments from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

The conference is designed to help middle managers develop the skills they need to make their dairies more profitable and better places to work. “This conference was the motivator I needed as a middle manager,” notes Kimberley Bunting, assistant herd manager at Mains Dairy in Newville, Pa., who attended the conference last year. “It focused on my needs as a middle manager and the issues I am faced with daily. I feel that I now know how to better manage my time, better communicate, and how to better meet the needs of the people I work with.”

The conference's keynote speaker is dairy producer John Pagel, owner of Ponderosa Dairy and recipient of the 2003 Innovative Dairyman of the Year Award from DFA and Dairy Today magazine. Pagel has grown his Wisconsin dairy from 67 cows with a 13,500 herd average to 1,600 cows with a 27,000-plus herd average. His keynote address will be "What is the Boss Looking for in a Top-Performing Middle Manager?” He will also lead a break-out session focusing on managing milking center employees.

Guest speaker is Martha Baker, a managing partner in Linwood Management Group, LLC, and general manager of Danielewicz Dairy Farm, Wilson, NY, where she oversees 25 employees on a 1,950-cow dairy. She is also a columnist on human resource management for Northeast Dairy Business magazine. Her topic will be “Keeping Tabs on Performance.” In addition, she will lead a break-out session on recruiting and retaining top-quality employees.

Other conference presentations will include:

  • Developing Your Skills as a Leader
  • Managing Performance: Standard Operating Procedures
  • Managing Your Time Effectively
  • Feedback that Motivates
  • Managing the Hispanic Workforce
  • Successful Reproductive Performance Requires a System for Employees, as Well as Cows
  • Labor Laws that Managers Need to Know

A unique feature of the conference is the chance it gives middle manages to network with each other. “Last year's Middle Manager's Conference gave me the opportunity to meet and communicate with many other middle managers to discuss experiences, good and bad,” explained Nate Galbreath, herd manager at Red Knob Farm in Peach Bottom, Pa. “This networking was very valuable. I have never attended another conference that has offered so much valuable information related specifically to my position.” This year, a reception will close the conference, providing managers more time to exchange ideas and experiences.

To register for the Middle Manager's Conference, call Penn State Dairy Alliance at 888-373-7232 or register online at The registration fee is $75. Advance registration is required. The registration fee is due at sign-up. Pennsylvania dairy producers and their employees are eligible to receive 100 percent reimbursement of their registration fee, thanks to a grant from the state Department of Labor and Industry. For a complete conference agenda, visit

Program partners include MidAtlantic Farm Credit and the Professional Dairy Managers of Pa. Dairy Alliance is a Penn State Cooperative Extension initiative.