UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The 2015 North American Manure Expo, which was co-hosted by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, is being recognized with the Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence, Pennsylvania's "highest honor bestowed upon businesses or organizations for environmental performance and innovation."
Held in Franklin County in July 2015, the three-day expo drew a record 2,000 attendees from 23 states and four Canadian provinces. Organized by the Department of Animal Science at Penn State and the Franklin County Conservation District, the event featured tours, demonstrations and educational sessions focused on manure handling and application.
Robb Meinen, Penn State senior extension associate, and Jennifer Bratthauar, agricultural conservation technician and nutrient management specialist for the Conservation District, co-chaired the expo. The two will accept the award at an April 19 dinner in Harrisburg hosted by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
"This award is a wonderful tribute to the hard work that Robb and Jennifer put into organizing the expo," said Terry Etherton, head of the Department of Animal Science. "It also is a wonderful recognition of the enormous impact the expo has on improving both water and air quality. We are very proud of these efforts and grateful for this honor."
The expo's largest group of attendees consisted of professional manure handlers. Also attending were dairy, livestock and poultry producers, nutrient-management plan writers, and agency and extension personnel.
"This recognition is quite an honor for the countless people and organizations that contributed to Manure Expo," Meinen said. "Professionals were exposed to information and equipment that allow simultaneous and practical progress for animal agriculture, crop production and environmental stewardship. From beginning to end, that was our overarching goal.
"The environmental benefits promoted at the expo are real," he said. "The attendees have enormous influence on environmental advancement across this region and all of North America. We offered programming for everyone, from a young professional driver of manure equipment to policymakers in Washington, D.C."
Tours and demonstrations gave attendees a chance to view the latest technology in action, and the event offered more than 50 educational seminars.
Vendors are attracted to the expo because of the large number of commercial manure applicators who attend, providing an opportunity to demonstrate the latest technology to a very specialized audience, Meinen noted.
"Manure Expo is helping to drive technology advancements in precision manure nutrient utilization," he said. "When commercial operators adopt these practices, the impact is realized on the many farms and large acreages that they service."
Presented each year by DEP, the Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence highlight the best in environmental innovation and expertise throughout the commonwealth. These awards are the highest statewide honor bestowed on businesses and organizations involved in a cross-section of environmental initiatives, such as cleaning up watersheds, saving energy, eliminating pollution and reducing waste.
The awards program is open to all Pennsylvania businesses, farms, government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations and individuals that have created or participated in the development of a project that promotes environmental stewardship and economic development in the state.
Projects are selected based on eight criteria: protection, partnership, public service, environmental education and outreach, pollution prevention, economic impact, innovative technology and climate change.
The 2016 Manure Expo will be held in London, Ohio.