Category Archives: Ag News

Julian Wilson: Top Young Ag Professional

Julian Wilson

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Julian Wilson, 33, is co-owner of Elk Run Vineyards in Mount Airy. In 42 years of business, Elk Run Vineyards has grown to cultivate 30 acres of vines consisting of 10 grape varieties to produce 18 wines for their tasting room. Julian owns and operates the vineyard with his father, Fred. In the midst of harvest last year, an accident left his father, the primary winemaker, injured and hospitalized for months. Without guidance, Julian stepped up to lead the Elk Run Vineyards team to harvest the entire crop, crush the grapes and make the wine. Fred described this as an “extraordinary feat” and said, “As we of the older generation get older, he is a bright spot in the ever-challenging market. He will carry the winery through the tough times we now face.”

Julian has worked on the operation for 17 years and participates in all tasks at the vineyard. He is the primary vineyard manager, assistant winemaker, and works with sales and marketing. In the 2021 Maryland Governor’s Cup, Julian was extremely proud to receive gold for the winery’s 2019 Cabernet Franc. Elk Run’s greatest business accomplishment in Julian’s eyes is being open for so long and still making good wine. He says, “We strive for quality in our products and work toward that goal every day.” Julian is active in the Maryland Wineries Association and is president of the Frederick Wine Trail. Elk Run has also partnered with a number of charity organizations to help give back to the community. Most recently they partnered with The Foxie G Foundation, a horse rescue farm where a portion of the proceeds from specifically labeled bottles went directly to the foundation.

When asked who influences Julian most in his work, he replied, “My late mother, Carol Wilson is the biggest influence in my life. She put so much of herself and her love into our family vineyard. I’m honored to carry on her legacy.” Julian is excited to grow the family business and wants to keep it thriving. He credits his parents’ work ethic in creating their dream as his reasoning behind wanting to follow in their footsteps. Julian is responsible for helping Elk Run operate a successful business due to the work ethic that has been passed along to him. “To run a successful vineyard, you need to wear a lot of different hats and be up for any challenge,” he said.

We are proud to honor Julian as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like him at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Julian on this well-deserved accolade!

As Julian wraps up our Top Young Ag Professional blogs, we encourage you to check out the others to learn a little bit about the heart and soul of young professionals within Frederick County’s agricultural community. The full list and links to their individual blogs can be found here.

Puerto Rico Distillery: Built on Hispanic Heritage

Puerto Rico Distillery

As we wrap up National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), we are highlighting a business that encompasses Hispanic heritage in all that they do: Puerto Rico Distillery. October is also National Women’s Small Business Month, which is the perfect opportunity to highlight part-owner Crystal Rivera.

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning, Crystal and her parents were opening Puerto Rico Distillery on Hughes Ford Road in Frederick. The heart of the business is rooted in Puerto Rican culture and tradition. The foundation of their distillery is Pitorro or Puerto Rican moonshine. This clear rum, distilled from sugar cane byproducts, has a distinctive flavor that differs from other rums many are accustomed to. Base Pitorros are then blended and flavored by adding fresh or dried fruits and other flavors. Flavoring blends soak anywhere from days to weeks, months, or even years (for those extremely patient distillers.)  Similar to the popularity of home brewing in the U.S., making and blending Pittoro is common in Puerto Rico. Culturally, Pitorro is enjoyed straight, sipping while socializing. Around holidays like Christmas, friends and family gather and share their blends (hoping to be the favorite!)

Prior to owning the distillery, Crystal worked for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart program. ProStart, which Crystal participated in as a student, is a high school culinary arts and restaurant management program. The experience and knowledge she gained from her time with ProStart prepared her to open her own business. Crystal Rivera Following Hurricane Maria, while living in Columbia, Maryland, Crystal and her parents’ dream to open a distillery true to their Puerto Rican roots began to blossom. While she loved her work with the non-profit, Crystal wanted something more for herself and to be more involved in her culture. While deciding on a location, they found themselves visiting Frederick often, loving the vibe and supportive community. They took a leap of faith, went with their gut, as Crystal said, and fortunately for us, chose Frederick as home!

“Everything Puerto Rico Distillery does is deliberate,” Crystal said.  Everything from their décor to the tank names help bring a slice of Puerto Rico to Frederick.  They stay true to their roots “Puerto Rican Born. Maryland Made” and are committed to sourcing products from both Puerto Rico and Maryland. They are passionate about staying true to their Hispanic heritage and being able to offer the Puerto Rican community this traditional spirit that many find nostaligic. Crystal is eager to educate the community about the culture and history of Pittoro.

Puerto Rico Distillery has made a valiant effort to give back through charitable donations. Tasting proceeds for the entire 2022 year have been devoted to La Goyco, specifically to La Casa de la Plena founded by their late dear friend Tito. La Goyco is a non-profit organization in Puerto Rico that supports artisans and traditions. They also operate a community center, provide refrigeration to the public for medications and necessities if they lose power, administer workshops and so much more.

Puerto Rico Distillery currently offers 10 flavors of their Clandestino Pitorro. The distillery’s permanent flavors include Traditional (a favorite and family recipe flavored with raisins, prunes and cranberries), Almond (using almond extract brown sugar and honey from the University of Maryland), Coconut, Pineapple and Coffee. Others available at this time include Coconut Chai (very popular, get yours while it lasts!), Kiwi, Passion Fruit and Tamarind. Visit Puerto Rico Distillery for products or check out other locations and ways to purchase on their website. Make sure to follow Puerto Rico Distillery’s Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up with their business!

For more ways to support local Hispanic-owned businesses and resources available to Hispanic entrepreneurs, visit the Frederick County Office of Economic Development’s blog on Hispanic Heritage month, linked here.

Today and every day we are thankful for the Hispanic heritage and culture in Frederick County’s vibrant community.

Cathleen Wastler: Top Young Ag Professional

Cathleen Wastler

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Cathleen Wastler, 27, is an owner and operator of Tulip Pond Farm in Union Bridge and named one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Cathleen grew up on her family’s dairy operation, instilling a passion for agriculture at a young age. In 2016, Cathleen received a bachelor’s degree in Accounting with a concentration in Business Finance. She held internships with an accounting firm in Frederick and then an insurance company in Libertytown, all while working on her family’s farm full-time. During her internship experiences, she decided her heart was at home. In 2018, she became a partner with her parents on Tulip Pond Farm.

Tulip Pond Farm is dairy, crop and beef operation. Cathleen and her family milk approximately 170 cows with 162 replacement heifers, have a beef herd of about 45 head and farm around 800 acres of cropland. Her days begin at 4am milking the cows with her mother. Cathleen can also be found scraping the barn, and bedding and feeding the heifers. In the spring, Cathleen spends much of her time in the field planting corn and soybeans for the farm. She tells us, “I even bought my own tractor and steering system to make things more efficient for our operation.” When it comes to making hay, Cathleen is heavily involved, operating the mower, rake or baler. Like most farms, harvest in the fall is a busy time for Tulip Pond Farm. Cathleen can be found in the combine harvesting the corn and beans or planting cover crops during this time. She is especially proud that Tulip Pond Farm has been able to accomplish cover cropping every acre they farm. They are devoted to being stewards of the land protecting the soil and helping mitigate runoff to the Chesapeake Bay. On top of her farm duties, Cathleen also helps her mother with the books and her father stay compliant with their nutrient management plan, as well as Farm Service Agency and Soil Conservation programming.

Cathleen is currently serving on the leadership council for Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, the member-owned cooperative they market their milk through. She also cares deeply for the agriculture community, advocates for the industry, and helps the next generation get involved. Cathleen enjoys working with youth interested in agriculture.

When it comes to who has influenced Cathleen the most in her work, she said, “My grandfather because he is 85 and still plants corn and makes hay. My husband influences me to work more efficiently on the farm. My parents influence me because they have worked so hard for what they have accomplished.” She also credits her parents for her work ethic which she attributes most to her success on the farm. “I was always taught to work for what you want,” she said.

We are proud to honor Cathleen as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Cathleen on this well-deserved accolade!

Allison Stewart: Top Young Ag Professional

Allison Stewart

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Allison Stewart, 31, owner and operator of Deer Run Farm in Emmitsburg, is named one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Deer Run Farm is a Red Angus beef, Berkshire pork, and Heritage chicken operation that has been in the Stewart family since 1996. In 2014, Allison met Josh Stewart, her now husband, and began helping on the farm. She dove right into the family business introducing retail beef sales, establishing the chicken hatchery and expanding the operation to include pork sales. Allison recently helped Deer Run Farm secure funding for a no-till grain drill through the Frederick County Agricultural Innovation Grant. With the purchase of this drill, Deer Run Farm can be converted to a no-till operation to better protect and conserve the soil, the Chesapeake Bay and other natural resources. With this, they have also created an opportunity for other farmers to rent the drill and do the same.

Allison is extremely proud of the success of the chicken hatchery. Deer Run Farm is the only hatchery in the United States to regularly test and maintain a disease-free poultry operation. She has expanded the business over the past five years to include shipping hatching eggs, day-old chicks and started birds nationwide. Allison’s greatest business accomplishment is the growth of the hatchery. She has helped the hatchery expand from hatching 3,000 chicks in its first year, to over 10,000 chicks hatched in a year. She says, “Having grown our customer base to support that kind of growth has been humbling.”

Recently Allison was named one of the Top 10 Farmers on the Rise by Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit. She is an active board member of the Frederick Farmer’s Cooperative, secretary for the Mid-Atlantic Red Angus Association, and a member of numerous other regional and national organizations. She says her father has influenced her most in her work with his saying “No matter what you do, do it with all your heart.” She said, “It’s something I always consider no matter what I am doing because you never know who’s watching.”

We are proud to honor Allison as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Allison on this well-deserved accolade!

The Great Frederick Fair 2022

Wineries Breweries Distilleries Showcase

Looking to check out the best in Frederick County Agriculture? Then you don’t want to miss out on the 2022 Great Frederick Fair, September 16-24. From prize winning livestock, food, education and rides the fair has it all.

Don’t miss the Homegrown Frederick Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries Showcase located in Building 13. The showcase brings together the best in Frederick County craft beverage products to taste and purchase.

Hours:

  • First Friday 5PM–10pm
  • Saturday & Sunday 12PM–10pm
  • Monday–Friday 2PM–10pm

Participants:

  • Dragon Distillery
  • Fordham Lee Distillery
  • Idiom Brewing Co
  • Linganore Winecellars
  • McClintock Distilling
  • Monocacy Brewing Co/Brewers Alley
  • Olde Mother Brewing
  • Orchid Cellar Meadery and Winery
  • Puerto Rico Distillery
  • Rosie Cheeks Distillery
  • Smoketown Brewing Station
  • Tenth Ward Distilling Company

Meet local farmers and learn about their businesses and the products they sell at the Taste of Homegrown Frederick Booth in the City Streets Country Roads (Building 44).

Participants:

  • Sunday, Sept. 18 3-5pm- South Mountain Creamery
  • Monday, Sept. 19 6-8 pm- Valley Homemade and Homegrown
  • Tuesday, Sept. 20 6-8pm- Chestnut Hill Farm and Market
  • Wednesday, Sept. 21 6-8 pm- Clark Family Farms Fiber
  • Thursday, Sept. 22 6-8pm- Moo Cow Creamery
  • Friday, Sept. 23 6-8pm- Fox Haven Farm
  • Saturday, Sept. 24 3-5pm- Lilypons Water Gardens

On Friday September 16 at 7PM, help us recognize local farmers for their outstanding achievements in agriculture at the Agricultural Awards Ceremony.  Awards will be given to Farm Family, Agri-Business, Ag-Advocate and Young Farmer of the Year and Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professional​s.  The ceremony will take place in Bldg. 32 – South Mt. Creamery Large Arena.

Kate Sowers: Top Young Ag Professional

Kate Sowers

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Kate Sowers, 37, is a part owner of South Mountain Creamery and is named one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Her experience in agriculture began at a young age in her local 4-H program. She was involved in a number of 4-H projects where her love for the industry began. In 2003, she married Ben Sowers, son of South Mountain Creamery founders, Randy and Karen Sowers. Since joining the family, Kate has continued to expand her involvement in the business. Now, as a part owner, Kate is responsible for managing the chicken house as well as bookkeeping for the enterprise. Aside from that, she is a mother of four and can often be found on the farm lending a hand to the staff wherever needed.

South Mountain Creamery is a diversified dairy farm operation that became the first on-farm dairy processing facility in the state of Maryland and today is one of the most recognized farms in the DMV, delivering products to approximately 10,000 customers. Kate owns the business with her husband, Ben, and Ben’s sister Abby Brusco and her husband Tony. They currently operate 3000 acres of cropland, milk approximately 500 Holstein and Jersey dairy cows, raise a herd of 150 head of beef cattle and a flock of 17,000 laying hens. South Mountain Creamery has two processing facilities, one on the home farm in Middletown, the other in Chambersburg, PA and a Downtown Frederick Ice Cream and newly added Pizza shop! Between all locations, South Mountain Creamery employs roughly 165 individuals.

Kate signifies South Mountain Creamery’s greatest business accomplishment as a successful purchase and transition from the previous generation to the next. She is also extremely proud of the expansions they have been able to accomplish under their ownership including the purchase of Trickling Springs Creamery, their processing facility in Chambersburg. Recently, during an awards ceremony at The Great Frederick Fair, Kate and her husband were recognized as Frederick County’s 2022 Young Farmers of the Year. The pair also received national recognition by being honored with the 2019 National Outstanding Young Farmer award given to those young farmers with outstanding achievements in agriculture and community involvement. Kate and her husband are active members of the community. Each year Kate donates to the Patty Pollatos Fund which raises money for local cancer victims. During Thanksgiving, she and her husband donate turkeys to the local elementary schools where they are then given to needy families.

The trait Kate most attributes to their success is, “Our willingness to push the envelope. If we don’t try, we’ll never know what we could do.” In her approach to work, she has been most influenced by her husband and mother. “They both work hard and do the job 110%,” she said.

We are proud to honor Kate as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Kate on this well-deserved accolade!

Emily Snyder: Top Young Ag Professional

Emily Snyder

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Emily Snyder, 30, is part of Rocky Point Creamery and a Relationship Manager for Farm Credit Express. She is named one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Emily grew up with horses and in her local 4-H program. In high school, she bought her own beef cows which ignited her love for cattle. Later she began a retail beef business on her own. The herd was housed on a dairy operation and there she acquired some dairy cattle and a passion for the industry.

Today, at Rocky Point Creamery, Emily and her husband, Chuck, milk 100 cows robotically to create over 120 flavors of ice cream and farm about 600 acres of cropland. Emily enjoys helping in barns and caring for the cows and calves. At the creamery, she helps with product development, social media, customer relations, payroll and more. With her position at Farm Credit Express, Emily serves farm equipment dealerships in the MidAtlantic region.

Emily currently serves on the Frederick County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and the University of Maryland Alumni Board and is an active member of the Rotary Club and a proud member of the American Society of Agronomy. She enjoys supporting the development of youth in agriculture by helping with 4-H and FFA events throughout the year. Each year, Rocky Point Creamery holds a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital where 100% of the proceeds from their sunflower patch donations go to this amazing organization.

Emily says she started farming because of her love for animals and the outdoors and attributes her success to her hard work. She says, “You don’t have to be the smartest or strongest. Just put your head down and work…you’ll get ahead.” Emily says she is fortunate to have been surrounded by wonderful people her entire life. “I have to say, being a part of the agricultural community has shown me some of the smartest, toughest, most successful people I’ve ever come across. A lot of our farmers are self-made or have taken an operation that was making ends meet and made a wildly successful enterprise. Being privy to their minds has given me bits and pieces to meld together to make my own successes,” she says.

We are proud to honor Emily as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Emily on this well-deserved accolade!

Ali Sharifzadeh: Top Young Ag Professional

Ali Sharifzadeh

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Ali Sharifzadeh, 36, Co-Founder and CEO of District Farms, is named as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. District Farms is a commercial hydroponic greenhouse located in Frederick. It was founded in 2017 by Ali and two partners. Ali is a highly intelligent individual with a background in electrical engineering and law. A passion for wanting to help build a more sustainable food system arose and he left his patent attorney career to help bring a new type of farming, Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), to Frederick County. CEA systems generally take a technology-based approach to agriculture. They allow for optimal growing conditions and mitigate risk from weather changes while preventing disease and pest damage. CEA systems also provide the capability for year-round crop growing.

District Farms is one of the most advanced food production operations in the County and is on its way to being one of the largest vegetable growing facilities in the Mid-Atlantic. Since District Farm’s inception, Ali and the team have the goal to provide fresh, local, high-quality leafy greens to the entire Mid-Atlantic region. They saw an opportunity in this business venture as 95% of all leafy greens in the United States are produced in California and Arizona. Currently, Ali is leading a business expansion five times the size of the existing facility. The expansion is planned to be completed by late 2022.

Ali says he is most proud of, “successfully planning, constructing and operating a commercial greenhouse employing an advanced hydroponic growing system as well as continuing to expand our operations during the Coronavirus pandemic.” His colleagues and employees are appreciative of the positive workplace culture he has created at District Farms leading to employee satisfaction, retention and minimal turnover. In five years, Ali hopes to further expand the operation in the County and enter into other produce segments such as berries and vine crops.

We are proud to honor Ali as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals and appreciate what District Farms has brought to Frederick County. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like him at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Ali on this well-deserved accolade and follow along with District Farms on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about their unique and incredibly innovative business!

Katlyn Robertson: Top Young Ag Professional

Katlyn Robertson

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Katlyn Robertson, 25, is the Field Supervisor for Catoctin Mountain Orchard (CMO) and named as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. She is the fourth generation to be actively involved in the family operation comprising 100 acres of mixed fruits, berries and vegetables and a retail farm market located directly off Route 15 in Thurmont. Growing up on the farm alongside her grandfather and inspiration, Robert “Bob” Black, and learning how to farm at a young age prepared Katlyn for the responsibilities she now has. “Katlyn has been involved with the family business ever since she could walk. She was my right hand then and now, going to orchard tours, meeting new farmers and making a name for herself,” said Bob. Katlyn expressed gratitude for the opportunities she has been given and the knowledge passed on to her, especially from her grandfather. She is passionate and dedicated to continuing the family legacy and name and providing consumers with the best local, tasting fruits.

Katlyn wears many hats at CMO. She manages the highly successful u-pick blueberry, black raspberry, cherry and apple operations on the farm. Katlyn is responsible for bringing u-pick apples to CMO. Fall has always been the busiest time of the year, and Katlyn thought “what better way to bring in more customers than u-pick apples?” After research, visiting other pick-your-own-apple orchards and developing a business plan, Katlyn was approved to move forward and began operations in 2014. This piece of the operation has increased sales while bringing new customers to the farm. To this day, she signifies the u-pick apples as her greatest farm business accomplishment. Katlyn can also be found helping with field work, assisting customers and ensuring proper food safety within the business.

Katlyn is committed to advocating for agriculture in Frederick County and giving back to the community. CMO partners with Farm to School Frederick to supply fruits to the Frederick County Public Schools lunch program. Katlyn is passionate about and eager to teach children the importance of farms in our everyday lives. Every week from July to November, Katlyn sets up a small farmstand to sell produce at Homewood Retirement Center. Providing this service is one of her favorites because she is helping those who may not have the ability to go to the grocery store. She is an active board member for the Frederick County Farm Bureau and the Vice Chair for Frederick County Young Farmers. She also serves as the Vice Chairman for the State Horticultural Association of PA Young Growers Alliance and is a member of the International Fruit Trees Association where she was a recipient of the young professional scholarship in 2020.

Katlyn is an exemplary young woman in Frederick County’s agricultural community, and we are proud to honor her as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Katlyn on this well-deserved accolade!

Amy Jo Poffenberger: Top Young Ag Professional

Amy Jo Poffenberger

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Amy Jo Poffenberger, Agriculture Educator and FFA advisor at Catoctin High school, is named one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. She began her career in ag education with Frederick County back in 2005 and has been with Catoctin High School since 2009. Amy Jo is committed to educating her students on what agriculture is and how it affects their lives. She says, “I hope that the knowledge they gain in my classroom will help them to be informed consumers as they enter adulthood.”  At Catoctin, any student who is enrolled in an ag class is a member of their FFA chapter where she encourages them to be involved in events and activities outside the classroom. The Catoctin FFA chapter is visible in the community hosting an annual Ag Day at Sabillasville Elementary, facilitating demonstrations at the fair and sharing their knowledge at the Thurmont/Emmitsburg Community Show. During her time at Catoctin, Amy Jo has mentored three Maryland State FFA Officers and led over 20 students in achieving their American FFA Degree – which is the highest FFA honor awarded to students demonstrating their commitment to the organization and accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experience. This year Amy Jo is proud to announce she has five teams traveling to compete in events at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, two of her students will be earning their American FFA degree, and the Catoctin High School FFA will be nationally recognized as a two-star chapter. Of all the awards Amy Jo has received, she is most proud of the appreciation award presented to her by her students who have gone on to become Maryland State FFA Officers. She says, “These awards mean a lot to me because they came from students whom I worked hard to mentor, advise and encourage throughout their FFA career.”

Amy Jo spends much of her time volunteering with several organizations. Not only is Amy Jo the FFA advisor for Catoctin, but she has also been the Region 2 FFA Coordinator for the past seven years, and serves as the Frederick County representative on the Maryland FFA Board of Directors. Amy Jo is a member of the Frederick County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and is the chairperson for the Frederick County Safety Committee, which organizes a safety camp for children ages 8-13. This year due to COVID, they held a day camp in conjunction with an evening safety fair open to the public. The public safety fair included demonstrations and displays from Frederick County Fire and Rescue, the Sheriff’s Office and the Health Department, as well as animal and tractor safety and a live electrical demo from FirstEnergy. Amy Jo was also a member of the Frederick County Young Farmers where she held several leadership roles and is a lifetime member of the Frederick County Farm Museum, previously serving on their Board of Directors.

Amy Jo is quite a leading young woman in Frederick County’s agricultural community, and we are proud to honor her as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like her at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Amy Jo on this well-deserved accolade!