Ohio Pork Council Presents Awards During Annual Pork Congress

Nick Seger (left), OPC president, presents Dr. Dave Shoup with the Ohio Pork Industry Excellence Award. Dave’s wife, Alona, joins him.

Shoup, Blankenship, Adams, Dirksen, and Ag Credit honored

The Ohio Pork Council concluded a highly successful 2024 Ohio Pork Congress with its annual awards luncheon on Feb. 7 that featured updates by Ohio Director of Agriculture Brian Baldridge and OPC Executive Vice President Cheryl Day. OPC recognized several top volunteers for their outstanding contributions to the state’s pork industry. These included awards for Ohio Pork Industry Excellence, Service, Pork Promoter of the Year, Manager of the Year, and Friend of the Pork Industry.

Ohio Pork Council President Nick Seger, a producer from Shelby County, said, “Looking ahead, our industry will continue to face big challenges, but we’ve shown that Ohio’s pork industry is up to the task because it’s made up of great leaders like those we’re honoring today. We’ll continue to build on the work these leaders have made to ensure that our industry remains strong for years to come as long as we’re prepared for what’s next and can adapt to the changing environment.”

Dr. Dave Shoup, Orrville, Ohio, received the Ohio Pork Industry Excellence Award. Given annually, this award recognizes a pork farmer, or farm family, for their willingness to go above-and-beyond to donate time, money, and talents on behalf of the industry at the state and national level.

Upon receiving the award, Shoup said, “I’m very honored to receive this award. There are so many people who have shaped my life and I want to thank them because you never know who may affect your life forever.”

Shoup grew up on a multi-generational farm, raising pigs, corn, soybeans, and wheat. His passion for the pork industry led him to a career as a veterinarian. His top concerns have always been the health and well-being of the pigs on the family farm, and he has spent many decades on improving pig care and overall swine health.

Shoup has served on the Ohio Pork Council’s Board of Directors, including as president and on many national taskforces and committees for the industry. His voice on lobbying trips to Washington, D.C., has been helpful in promoting industry interests to lawmakers. His enthusiasm for connecting with consumers led him, his wife Alona, and family to host food blogger tours at the farm where they offer participants a first-hand look at real pig farming.

The Ohio Pork Industry Service Award goes to an individual who exemplifies outstanding service, exceeding volunteer expectations, and willing to support the pork industry in numerous ways. This year, the Ohio Pork Council recognized Tom Blankenship, Morrow County, Ohio, with these 2023 honors.

Blankenship is a lifelong member of the Morrow County Pork Producers organization and a lifelong supporter of Ohio’s pork industry with his wife Pam by his side. His dedication to supporting the pork industry through his wisdom and service truly exemplifies expectations from the organizations and individuals he works with. Blankenship’s dedication to serving the pork industry often means you can find him involved with the youth of the industry as a mentor, including his most recent involvement with the success of the Cardington FFA Pig Project and the 2023 Ohio State Fair Land & Living Birthing Center.

As a mentor, Blankenship uses his over 40 years of experience raising pigs and being involved in the industry to give a wealth of guidance, skills, and resources to the next generation of pork producers. When he is not in the barn assisting youth in learning proper animal care and husbandry, he can be found behind a grill or smoker prepping and cooking pork for thousands of Morrow County and state fair attendees, and at the countless other events Blankenship participates in each year. For him, it isn’t just about spending the time behind the grill. He is a champion of teaching and educating on proper pork cooking methods including the 145-degree messaging.

The Pork Promoter of the Year Award is given to an individual or company that excels in promoting the pork industry. This year, the Ohio Pork Council honored Madison Adams, Crawford County, as the Pork Promoter of the Year.

Adams’ love for agriculture and animal care landed her a career in the pork industry, where she has been employed for seven years. Her time in the barn quickly led her to be introduced to Ohio Pork Council’s Virtual Field Trip Program where Madison began assisting in the hosting of Virtual Field Trips. Over time, Madison’s assistance with the OPC program resulted in her becoming one of the main hosts for the Virtual Field Trips, which took advantage of her knowledge of pork production and her innate ability to successfully educate viewers repeatedly.

Adams excels in promoting the industry and never shies away from a chance to tell her positive pig farming story with Virtual Field Trip viewers. With her can-do attitude, she has begun using her knowledge and experience to train new field trip hosts. Whether it is sharing animal care processes, teaching about environmental stewardship, or simply answering viewers’ questions, Adams has taken the opportunity to use her voice to promote an industry she loves.

The Ohio Pork Council Swine Manager of the Year is Pat Dirksen, who lives in Rossburg, Ohio, with his wife and four children. This award recognizes a leader of a swine operation who is highly knowledgeable of the pork industry and has demonstrated the ability to make key decisions on behalf of their operation.

Dirksen grew up on a family farm where his passion for agriculture truly began to take shape. Throughout the years, he has held a variety of career roles in the ag industry, including hauling pigs, working for Sunrise Co-op, and eventually becoming the swine manager for Thompson Farms for seven years. During his time with Thompson’s, he assisted with the tremendous growth of the farm, and logged countless hours assisting contract growers with new barn designs, construction protocols, feed trials, and every other aspect of their operations.

Dirksen’s career has taken him through just about every corner of the pork industry, and his experience and knowledge are greatly coveted. His care and compassion for the people, pigs, and planet does not go unnoticed. His passion for his job and the betterment of the pork industry has helped to shape the next generation of leaders. Dirksen his wife, and four kids reside in Rossburg, Ohio.

The work of the Ohio Pork Council is made possible by supporters who devote time to enhance the organization’s efforts on behalf of all producers. To acknowledge their efforts and express gratitude, OPC established the Friend of Ohio Pork Industry Award. This award recognizes an individual, organization, or company making a substantial impact on the organization through monetary support, voluntary activities, or general support to the pork industry. This year, the Ohio Pork Council honored Ag Credit with the award.

AgCredit has been a longtime supporter of the Ohio Pork Council. Through their support and contributions, AgCredit has provided countless hours and resources for the betterment of the Ohio pork industry and Ohio Pork Council’s programs, such as the OH-PIGS Program. The organization’s support is among the most prominent and has truly shaped the work of the Ohio Pork Council over the years.

Nick Seger, OPC president, presents Tom Blankenship with the Ohio Pork Industry Service Award.