HARRISBURG, Pa. — For his dedication and service to the Pennsylvania agriculture industry, the Pennsylvania Livestock Association (PLA) inducted Dick Kuzemchak, Pleasant Gap, Centre County, into the Pennsylvania Livestock Hall of Fame. Kuzemchak was honored during the Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Keystone International Livestock Exposition at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.
The Pennsylvania Livestock Hall of Fame honors excellence in animal agriculture and leadership in local, state, national and international endeavors. According to the Pennsylvania Livestock Association, it is “the highest honor that the livestock industry of Pennsylvania can bestow on an individual.” Kuzemchak’s portrait will hang alongside prior Hall of Fame inductees at the entrance to the New Holland Arena concourse in the complex.
A lifelong shepherd, Kuzemchak graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 1968 with a degree in animal industry. While at Penn State, he spent countless hours under the tutelage of shepherd Carroll Shaffner, tending Southdown, Cheviot, Shropshire, Hampshire, Horned Dorset, Polled Dorset, Suffolk, and commercial ewe flocks. He was an active member of Block and Bridle and was Grand Champion Sheep Showman from 1965 to 1968 at Little International, and Supreme Showman during his senior year.
After two years in United States Marine Corps, he succeeded Shaffner as Penn State’s shepherd in 1971. He retired in 2009 after 38 years. One of the many highlights of his career was the 2005 show season when the Penn State Sheep Program attended seven sales throughout the country winning a National Champion Ewe, two Supreme Champions, six Grand Champions, three Reserve Grand Champions, two Junior Champions, three Reserve Senior Champions, and three Best Consignment Awards over all breeds. Penn State’s Polled Dorset flock was undefeated that year at the Ohio State Fair, Indiana State Fair, Eastern States Exposition, and North American International Livestock Exposition. The following year, Dorset enthusiasts traveled from 22 different states and Puerto Rico to attend the Penn State Sheep Production sale, setting record sales with 124 registered buyers, and 229 head of sheep sold, averaging $1,238 per head.
Kuzemchak’s career involved not only the day-to-day sheep care, but selecting ewes and rams for Penn State’s breeding program. He developed a Dorset flock that would not only win in the show ring, but also provided a good carcass for the commercial producer. These sheep became the foundation of many Dorset flocks.
Many of the students he taught and guided in their research continue to be active in the sheep industry. He was honored by Penn State Block and Bridle’s Little International twice for sharing his dedication to the livestock industry.
Kozemchak has judged many state, regional and county sheep shows, including the National Dorset Show and Sale at the Eastern States Livestock Exposition. He serves on the Keystone International Livestock Exposition and PA Farm Show Sheep committees.
He continues to be active as a Dorset judge and flock consultant. Over the years he has been a consultant for many major Dorset flocks; helping with management, care, showing and breeding decisions. In 2015, he was inducted into the Continental Dorset Hall of Fame. He is also active in his community, serving as 1st Vice Commander and current Vice President American Legion Post 867.
He has a daughter, Julie, two sons, Scott and Joe, and nine grandchildren. He lives in Pleasant Gap, Centre Co with Gayle, his wife of 50 years.
The Keystone International Livestock Exposition is the largest livestock show on the East Coast, with more than 1,300 beef cattle, 650 horses, 1,200 sheep, 450 swine, and 200 Boer goats. This year, nearly 1,000 exhibitors from 29 states and Canada are competing in livestock events. The show also includes the 12th Annual Keystone Classic Barbecue Competition, a Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned event to select the state’s finest culinary competitors.
All events are open to the public with free admission and parking. Find more information and a complete schedule of events at keystoneinternational.pa.gov.
–Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture