Kelly Ritchey grew up on a farm but didn't want to be a farmer. However, he did want to be part of the agriculture community.
Ritchey, 56, of Duncansville will be he 24th recipient of the Agricultural Community Excellence award Tuesday at the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Farm-City Dinner at The Park at Morrisons Cove in Martinsburg.
The award was started as a continuation and expansion of the Chamber's Farm Family of the Year Award, initiated in 1970. It is an effort by the chamber to recognize all facets that make agriculture a primary industry in the county.
(Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich)
Kelly Ritchey (left) and David Smith work on David’s taxes on Tuesday at his farm in Martinsburg. Kelly has been named an Agricultural Community Excellence Award winner by the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.
Ritchey was humbled by the recognition.
"I am sure there are more people who deserve it more than I do. It is an honor. I appreciate everything the chamber does for agriculture," Ritchey said. "I was surprised; I didn't expect it."
Ritchey enjoyed growing up on a farm in Woodbury Township, Bedford County.
Name: Kelly Ritchey
Position: Account supervisor and farm consultant for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau
Education: Northern Bedford County High School, 1974; Penn State University with a bachelor's degree in agriculture education, 1978
Family: Wife Melinda;
daughter, Sara, 15.
Quote: "I work in a good area. Blair County is a very progressive area. It is nice to see Blair County growing in
"I remember getting up and milking the cows, it was a good experience. It teaches you responsibility and work ethic," Ritchey said.
The 1974 graduate of Northern Bedford County High School thought about following in the footsteps of his uncle Robert Sell, vocational-agriculture teacher at Northern Bedford.
After Ritchey graduated from Penn State in 1978 with a degree in agriculture education, a job opened at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.
"This job came up and it gave me the opportunity to work with farmers," Ritchey said.
Ritchey has been with the farm bureau, where he works in the Farm Management Services Division as an account supervisor and farm consultant, ever since.
Ritchey covers Blair and Cambria counties, and his responsibilities range from providing financial consulting, tax management and farm analysis to farm supplies. He also travels to different parts of the state for special projects such as farm management succession planning.
He said his uncle was a big help in his career choice.
"He pointed me in the right direction and made me aware of the different opportunities rather than being a physical farmer," Ritchey said.
Ritchey, who works out of his home on his wife's family farm in Duncansville, enjoys his work.
"I spend every day outside. If they put me in an office I would go crazy," Ritchey said. "It is always a different challenge every day; it is not boring. I enjoy just dealing with the people. It is better than just crunching numbers."
Ritchey has been a past leader of the Woodbury Dairy 4-H and a member of the Holstein Club of Blair County. He was a partner in Martinsburg Milling Co. for 10 years before the business was sold to Pennfield Feeds in 1996.
Members of the chamber's Farm-City committee said Ritchey is a worthy recipient of the ACE Award.
He was selected because of all of his years of dedication and service to the agricultural community, said Joe Diamond, committee member and regional organizational director for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.
"Like any trusted employee, he is always there when there are questions. As there have been transitions at farms around the area, he has always been there to make sure the transition went well," Diamond said. "He is always willing to listen and help and he is there when you need him."
Committee member Sarrah Biddle said Ritchey has had a major impact on the agricultural community.
"He keeps all of us updated on the things we need to know," Biddle said. "Everyone knows him, everyone likes him and everyone recognizes him. He is under appreciated on the outside."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.