Guests and hundreds of people in the Delmarva Peninsula’s chicken community gathered in Salisbury, Md., April 16 for the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. Booster Banquet, the1,800-member trade association’s annual membership dinner. During its 58th banquet, DPI recognized 13 outstanding chicken growers and three individuals for their work on behalf of the chicken industry.
The J. Frank Gordy Sr. Delmarva Distinguished Citizen Award, DPI’s highest honor, was presented to William Vanderwende of Sussex County. Though not employed in the chicken industry, he has made many contributions to the continued success in Delaware and the entire Delmarva Peninsula.
He has served as chairman of the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission since its creation in 1999. Vanderwende has helped steer this policy-making group of farmers and others to develop and implement the Delaware Nutrient Management Law, a farmer-friendly, common sense and bottom-up approach to working on nutrient management issues. Under his leadership, the commission helped guide Delaware through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval of the state’s Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation regulations.
Vanderwende was a member of the Sussex Conservation District Board of Supervisors for 36 years, 22 of them as chairman. He and fellow board members provided significant support for Delaware chicken growers. He is a past member of the Delaware Governor’s Advisory Council on Agriculture, past vice chairman of the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation Board of Trustees, a member of the Delaware State Fair Board of Directors, a manager of his local tax ditch association and a member of his local board of education. Vanderwende also received the Delaware Secretary of Agriculture’s Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award in 2009.
The Edward H. Ralph DPI Medal of Achievement was presented to chicken industry veteran Dr. G. Donald Ritter of Salisbury, Md. Ritter began his career as a chicken health professional on the Delmarva Peninsula soon after graduation from veterinary school. He joined Showell Farms in 1985 and then worked for Perdue Farms Inc. He has been with Mountaire Farms since 1995. Ritter has chaired DPI’s Poultry Health Committee since 2001, and under his leadership, DPI’s National Meeting on Poultry Health, Processing, and Live Production remains the premier meeting of its type in America.
Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. Director of Education and Consumer Information Connie Parvis was recognized with a DPI Medal of Achievement for her nearly 43 years of service to the chicken industry and DPI. Under her leadership since 1972, the Delmarva Chicken Festival and Delmarva Chicken Cooking Contest were premier industry promotion events. Parvis worked for decades on the National Chicken Cooking Contest.
In recent years, she has directed DPI’s educational programs, including projects for students and teachers, the production of videos about Delmarva’s industry, coordinating DPI’s college scholarship program, developing school curriculum, and assisting with outreach programs to the general public. Parvis served for many years on the board of directors of the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation and the board of the Maryland Agricultural Council. She is the longest-serving DPI employee in the organization’s history.
DPI also recognized 13 outstanding poultry producers. Cape Region honorees include Roger and Karen Davis, Felton, Perdue Farms Inc.; Richard and Janet Kauffman, Harrington, Amick Farms LLC; Mack and Norma Lee McCary, Frankford, Mountaire Farms; and Ron and Janice Whaley, Laurel, Perdue Farms Inc.