HARRISBURG, Pa. — James and Rita Kennedy, of Valencia, Butler County, will receive the Obie Snider Award at the 53rd All-American Dairy Show, Sept. 17-22, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.
The award, established in memory of Obie Snider of Bedford County, a founding father of the All-American Dairy Show, recognizes an individual who places significant value in service to the industry and community, and displays high standards of conduct.
“Jim and Rita have lived a life of service, especially to the agricultural industry on the local, state and national levels,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding. “Their commitment to the dairy industry and the All-American Dairy Show is parallel with the goals and vision set by the namesake of this award — Obie Snider.”
Together, the Kennedys operated Four Seasons Farm in Butler County where they raised their five children — Jeffrey, Jill, Janelle, John and Jason — milked Brown Swiss cows, and row-cropped 700 acres.
Jim and Rita also have 16 grandchildren and their first great-grandchild is on the way.
The husband and wife team have both served the National Brown Swiss Cattle Association, National Dairy Shrine, Pennsylvania Grange and Farm Bureau, Farm Credit, Farmers Cooperative Market of East Liberty, Butler County Extension and 4-H, Butler County dairy promotion and members of the Mars Presbyterian Church.
A pioneer for women in agriculture, Rita has served on many local, state and national dairy organizations. For 24 years, she has been on the Pennsylvania Dairy and Allied Industries Association board, serving as president of the All-American Dairy Show for 10 of those years, and is a member of the All-American Dairy Foundation.
She has dedicated nearly 30 years to dairy promotion organizations including American Dairy Association and Dairy Council Mid-East, the Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program, and the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, along with the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess and Promotion Services.
She is also a member of the Pennsylvania Dairyman’s Association and Friends of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Foundation.
In 2001, Rita was named the All-American Dairy Show Image Award winner and Pennsylvania Dairywoman of the Year, and the World Dairy Expo Dairywoman of the Year in 2002.
Jim was a Butler County commissioner for 15 years, and was committed to promoting agriculture statewide as part of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. He also served as a local school board director for 17 years.
On the state level, Jim was a charter member and held leadership positions in the Pennsylvania Dairy Task Force, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Center for Dairy Excellence and the Dairy Policy Action Coalition.
He also served as the state agriculture department’s regional director for 32 counties in western Pennsylvania for two years.
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