Featured photo: Butler County farmer Rita Kennedy (center) is presented Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award by state Women’s Leadership Committee Chair Bonnie LaTourette during PFB’s 65th Annual Meeting in Hershey.  Kennedy was recognized as the first recipient of the award for her decades of work as a farmer and representative of the agriculture community.  Joining Rita in the photo is her husband Jim Kennedy.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s (PFB) Women’s Leadership Committee has selected Butler County dairy farmer Rita Kennedy as the recipient of the “Outstanding Woman in Agriculture” Award during the 65th Annual Meeting in Hershey.

Kennedy has been involved with farming her entire life.  She was born and raised on a dairy farm,  began milking cows as an eight-year-old and continues to be a vital member on the family farm today.

“As a young girl, I was raised to do chores on the farm.  I never considered what I was doing as anything unusual. I could drive a tractor, I could do anything a boy could do,” said Rita Kennedy.  “There are more women working on the farm today than there ever has been, and we know how to care for our animals.”

Throughout her decades on the farm, Kennedy was in charge of the day-to-day operation of the dairy.  She   managed the dairy cows and calves, which included milking the cows and taking care of all of the animal health tasks.  “Ladies have a place in dairy and I’m proud to be one of those ladies,” added Kennedy.  Meanwhile, Rita’s husband, Jim Kennedy, was in charge of the crops and feeding the cows.

“Rita is not only an outstanding woman in agriculture; she is an outstanding farmer and person.  She has been involved in every aspect of the farm operation over the years and also had the energy to raise five children,” said PFB President Rick Ebert.  “I’m proud to recognize Rita Kennedy as Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s first recipient of the Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award.”

Kennedy has a long list of accomplishments and has been an active Farm Bureau member and an advocate of the agriculture community, including roles in the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess Program and 4-H.  Kennedy was also selected the World Dairy Expo 2002 Dairy Woman of the Year, the 2001 Pennsylvania Dairy Woman of the Year and the All American Dairy Show Image Award winner in 2001.

“One of the most rewarding parts of my career has been seeing my children and grandchildren involved in the dairy farm.  Despite some hard times over the years, we’ve pulled through, and are happy that three of our five children are dairy farmers and a fourth child is involved in agriculture,” said Kennedy.